Different electronic medical systems have different strengths and limitations. To decide which one to purchase, a medical practice can start by understanding how to assess the difference between systems. Electronic medical record systems may have different component software packages, including those for patient medical records, appointment scheduling, billing or patient education. Since patient medical records are a critical component, it is best to understand the software used to implement electronic medical records.
While electronic medical records remove the need for paper-based data entry, data still needs to be entered electronically. Some systems use keyboards, while others offer data entry options via touchscreens or verbally, with the use of voice recognition software. A key objective in installing an electronic medical record system is to reduce paper-based records. However, the need to print patient medical records often arises. Since most electronic medical records have a complex layout, printing a complete record can be a challenge, as not all systems are compatible with all printers.
It is inevitable that ‘hard copies’ of patient reports, such as x-ray reports or laboratory reports, will need to be imported into an electronic database. To do this, a practice needs both a scanner and compatible optical recognition software that may or may not be built into the electronic medical record system. Optical recognition software, in turn, may only recognize certain data or text entry formats.
Electronic medical record systems may offer options to import images, such as x-rays or CT scans, in one or more formats. Some systems do not offer any image importing options. When considering such options, it is best to go for the most flexible program that allows the importation of images in a number of different formats. Certain formats take up much more space on a hard drive than others, but may offer enhanced images.