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Navigating Your Choice of Physical Therapy EMR and PM Tool: What You Need to Know

Choosing the right software for your PT practice

In the fast-paced realm of healthcare technology, selecting the right physical therapy Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Practice Management (PM) system is more than a decision about software—it’s about choosing a partner that is as committed to the success of your physical therapy practice as you are. 

The best EMR for your practice should do more than just streamline operations and enhance patient experiences (and it should certainly do these things!); it should reflect a shared vision for the future of physical therapy

This article aims to guide you through the essential considerations in selecting an EMR and PM system that not only meets your immediate needs but also demonstrates a genuine investment in the growth and prosperity of your practice. We’ll explore the importance of understanding the background and intentions of your EMR provider, ensuring they view their relationship with your practice as a true partnership.

Evaluating contract terms and commitments

Long-term contracts might offer stability, but they can also limit flexibility. It’s vital to understand the nuances of your contract, including renewal terms and exit clauses. Ask yourself: Does this contract accommodate the evolving needs of my practice? Consider how all aspects of your agreement might impact your company before making a serious investment in an EMR and PM.

In general, before you sign a meaningful contract with a third-party vendor, it’s strongly recommended to review every detail and ensure that you understand the obligations and terms of the agreement. In some situations, it can make sense to have legal counsel review an agreement before you decide to sign. It is always better to over-review a contract rather than under-review it. If you’re left with any questions or potential concerns after review, you should bring it up with the provider and get the answers you’re looking for.

Evaluating opt-out clauses

An essential detail to review in your contract is what happens if and when you leave your provider for a new one. If your business opts out of service, will you be supported during the process? Does the contract have aggressive terms, such as potential fees or legal disputes? Also, if the provider offers RCM services will they continue to support your AR for a period after the contract ends? Work through all these details to understand fully what any change would entail, so you don’t find out the hard way later should you decide to change software providers.

URL links to terms and conditions that can be modified at anytime

Another important detail is that terms are defined directly in the contract, and not in a URL that can be modified at any time. Keep an eye out for contracts with terms that are highlighted in an external link, and inquire with the provider if you can get terms more solidified in writingif not, this might be a red flag for your business.

Understanding EMR ownership structures

EMRs are managed by diverse entities, ranging from family-owned businesses to corporate giants and private equity-owned firms. Each model influences the company’s approach to customer service, technological investment, and overall stability. It’s essential to understand how these aspects can impact your experience and the quality of the EMR system. 

When considering a potential solution, do some research on the company itselfsuch as how it is funded and who it is owned by, along with product-specific information like features and pricing. You might find some useful details on sites like Glassdoor (to see how employees view the company), Crunchbase (to see funding of the business), or in press releases the company has put out.

The role of private equity in EMR companies

Private equity ownership often focuses on financial performance over customer experience, sometimes leading to sudden changes in company strategies. These can include adjustments in pricing, attempts to extend contract terms, changing core functionalities or service offerings, and prioritization of short-term gains. While not inherently negative, it’s important to consider how these strategies align with your practice’s needs for sustainable and reliable EMR service. 

Assessing product development and support

A reliable EMR should continually evolve to meet the changing demands of healthcare technology. You might read through the company’s release notes, press releases, or blog posts to get a sense for how often they’ve updated, fixed issues, and addressed customer feedback. Equally important is robust customer support to navigate any challenges. Research the provider’s track record in these areas to gauge their commitment to progress and customer satisfaction. Oftentimes, you can see how other clinic owners and users feel about their support or their approach to updates by scouring resources like Facebook groups, G2, and Reddit where clinic owners and users alike discuss their feelings on their existing software vendors.

Evaluating the system’s true functionality

In today’s world, having disjointed technology across your practice may create unnecessary headaches and inefficiencies (i.e. an EMR system that is separate from your PM system that is separate from your Patient Engagement systems). When you are evaluating software solutions for your company and hoping to streamline your team’s work, be sure to analyze whether they truly offer an all-in-one solution or if their platform leverages bolt-on products. 

You can usually identify this by reviewing the product offerings (do they offer 10 different products and you have to buy each one individually?), checking historical press releases to see if the company has purchased other software businesses, and asking friends and other clinic owners that are customers. The most important thing to evaluate here is that your PM software where you will be performing RCM functions is not disconnected or a separate product from your EMR solution, as that will create a lot of extra work and potential issues for your team. 

Reading what other users are saying 

Just like you would with a new car or finding a good restaurant, you can track down honest reviews online of the physical therapy EMRs you’re considering. Facebook groups are a great place to start as the PT industry is heavily involved there. Sites like G2 and Capterra are trustworthy resources for real customer reviews of software, including healthcare technology (although keep an eye out for paid reviews). When you find some verified user reviews or genuine discussion on forums, you can see what similar businesses are sharing about their experience, highlight specific details that might be most important to your team when it comes to the pros and cons, and factor that into your team’s decision-making.

Conclusion

Choosing an EMR and PM provider is a significant decision in your practice’s growth, and your team’s day-to-day experience and efficiency. The right EMR and PM company is a partner in your practice’s journey towards excellence in patient care and operational efficiency. We highly recommend thorough research, including consultations with peers, reading industry reviews, and engaging in product demos where you ask all the questions that matter to you and your team. Your ideal EMR and PM provider should align not just with your current needs, but also with the future trajectory of your practice. Making the right decision now is worth the effort, to lay the foundation for an amazing and long-lasting partnership.

Prompt Staff

Prompt Therapy Solutions builds practice management software for physical therapy clinics ranging from single provider practices and startups, to large enterprise organizations.

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