The day has finally arrived. You realize you need electronic health records (EHR) technology for your private practice but aren’t sure how to find the right system. How can audiologists and speech-language pathologists determine which EHR software best fits their practice?
Before you can choose EHR software, learn what features and benefits each system offers. In general, EHRs provide a HIPAA-compliant, web-based location to store documents, take care of billing and communicate with patients. They track billing information—including claims, explanation of benefits forms (EOBs) and electronic remittance advice forms (ERAs)—and often provide an integrated clearinghouse, which is an intermediary between you (the provider) and the insurance company that checks claims for accuracy.
Choosing an EHR depends largely on your practice’s needs, so start with the basics: Are you a solo practitioner or do you have employees? Will you need templates for multiple specialists, such as audiologists and SLPs?
Keep these questions in mind while searching for the most appropriate EHR for your practice:
Fees for using an EHR software system:
- Does the EHR system charge by the clinician or by the patient?
- Are there fees for office staff (non-billing staff) who will use it?
- What does the monthly fee include? Are there extra fees for a patient portal, appointment reminders or importing/exporting data?
- Does the EHR software integrate with a specific credit card company? If so, what are the credit card fees?
- Is billing integrated or through a separate system?
- How easy is it to create invoices and superbills?
- What are the claim fees?
- Are ERAs available? Is there a fee for them?
- What types of support is offered from the EHR provider—phone, online chat, email, a troubleshooting forum? Can you talk to an actual human if you need to?
- When can you reach those support options—and is there a fee for “after-hours” support?
- Can you customize reimbursement codes or add a frequently used code list?
- Are audiology- and speech-language-specific codes available in the templates?
- Can you customize the paperwork/documents within the system?
- Can you import your logo into the system so your documents look professional and cohesive?
- Does the EHR system include access to a Patient Portal or secure messaging so you can securely and privately communicate with clients?
- Does the system support paperless intakes?
Once you are armed with those questions, you can check out EHRs by searching online for options, reading reviews and talking to colleagues about what software they use.
Some of the EHRs popular with communication sciences and disorders professionals include:
- Clinic Source
- Fusion Web Clinic
- My Clients Plus
- Office Ally
- Practice Perfect
- Simple Practice
- Therapy Notes
To narrow down your list, set a monthly and/or yearly budget for an EHR system and eliminate anything exceeding your limit. Make sure to include any extra fees when making your calculation.
Then, decide which features are non-negotiable. Do you absolutely need a Patient Portal? How important are client reminders or ERAs? Once you narrow it down, demo the remaining candidates. All offer free 21- to 30-day trial periods, which is plenty of time to see how each platform works for you.
Also, consider if your state requires Certified EHR Technology (CHERT) in order to bill for Medicare or Medicaid. The current federal mandate includes hospitals, but many states require that all health professionals use these certified EHRs. Contact your state speech-language-hearing association for more information.
Once you choose the EHR that works for you, you’re on your way to a simpler, easier private practice life!
Did you recently go through the process of selecting and implementing HER software? Share your tips and final chose in the comment section below.
Jill Shook, MS, CCC-SLP, owns a private practice in Pittsburgh. She created a course for SLPs starting out in private practice and blogs at Private Practice SLP. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 1, Language and Learning Education. firstname.lastname@example.org.