One of the clear benefits of using a cloud-based EHR is the inherit extendibility that comes with the territory. You can easily connect the centrally-hosted EHR with any number of partner services and every customer feels the benefit. This model is in stark contrast to on-site, server-based solutions where each practice would require a dedicated and custom connection to each partner.
This is one of the reasons why older EHR systems were slow to adapt and offer new capabilities and one reason why cloud-based EHRs are quickly becoming the new standard. EHRs that leverage the cloud have the ability to offer a marketplace of partner solutions that can literally be turned on in seconds, with no complex integrating, interfacing, or infrastructure requirements for the customer. It is just plug and play, much like a Swiss army Knife with an unlimited set of extensions.
This translates into the ability for an independent practice to change its practice model and adapt its EHR system to meet its changing needs. Let’s say your practice is looking to be more consumer-centric and offer on-demand telemedicine services to limited “VIP” customers. In this case, you would go to the EHR marketplace, find a telemedicine service provider, and request to sign up for the new service. Once you are signed up, there is no additional setup required to use the new solution. The integration is already in place. You are essentially just turning it on.
Many such add-on capabilities are generally available through the top EHR platforms. The flexibility cloud-based EHR vendors have allows them to focus their attention on building their capabilities while partnering with other highly innovative companies that excel in their specific area of focus.
Other examples of marketplace tools that can help practices maximize efficiency by adding solutions to the EHR include:
- Patient check-in and payment kiosks
- Electronic drug couponing
- Enhanced patient statements
As the industry shifts from fee-for-service to value-based care, even more technology and service partners will become available to ease the transition to new contract and care delivery models. For example, a practice might add a solution to support programs like chronic care management (CCM) or advanced reporting for MACRA’s alternative payment models (APMs).
So it makes perfect sense to review your EHR’s extendibility now in preparation for all the changes that will be coming down the road in the next one to two years. If you are looking for a new system, be sure to check out the marketplace and ask vendors about plans for additional partners to meet the coming changes.