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Thanks to the recent advancements in health information technology, more healthcare providers have started using digital health tools like EMRs, EHRs, PHRs, and Patient Portals. One of the key components in routine clinical care and medical research is the electronic consent form, which replaces the paper consent forms that patients must sign prior to receiving treatment.

So does an electronic consent form help improve patient satisfaction and care? Patients need to be informed about everything they need to know about their surgical procedure or treatment plan to create an informed medical decision. Using an e-Consent form educates patients about their medical treatment and condition. It also allows health care providers to spend less time on repetitive tasks and focus on creating better treatment plans for their patients.

The Importance of e-Consent to Improving Patient Care and Compliance

Patient consent is extremely important in providing the right care and treatment to people. A healthcare center or primary care provider is legally and ethically required to discuss everything with their patients. They’re also asked to sign consent forms to ensure that the patient understands everything that has anything to do with their treatment. Failure to secure consent forms is one of the main reasons why medical practitioners are sued for medical malpractice.

In addition to getting a patient to sign an informed consent on paper, these documents still have to be secured and organized which takes a lot of work for the hospital staff. About 10% of surgeries often get delayed because of the missing paper-based signed consent on the day of the surgery.

Electronic consent forms prevent such accidents from happening by storing the signed form on a server or online. They also help improve patient care since the staff focuses on the patient’s treatment instead of worrying about where the consent form and other medical records are.

Patients also have fewer chances of damaging or losing their copy of the digital consent form. The e-Consent also comes with patient education materials that make it easier for them to learn more about their treatment. Patients with high health literacy are more likely to comply with the doctor’s instructions, making the treatment even more effective.

What is an Electronic Consent Form?

Electronic consent forms are more than just the digital version of informed consent. It’s an informed consent discussion between patients and healthcare providers about the recommended procedure. Electronic consent forms usually function as three things: a legal requirement, a gatekeeper, and an audit trail.

Using Paper-based vs. Digital Consent Forms

Technology is an important part of any industry, including health care and medical practices. Most of the patient records in clinics and hospitals are stored in web-based or server-based systems that make them accessible for the staff who need them at any given time.

But aside from storing patient records digitally, more health care organizations have started adopting electronic consent forms for their patients. Keeping digital consent forms is a lot more convenient than paper consent forms because they don’t take up a lot of physical space. They’re also less vulnerable to getting lost or stolen since cloud-based software often comes with advanced cybersecurity and a reliable backup system.

Electronic consent forms also contain more updated and accurate information than paper-based consent forms. Hospital consent forms are always subject to lots of changes, which is why it’s difficult to update paper consent forms every time new changes are made. Electronic consents are easy to update after just a few clicks, which decreases the chances of accidentally letting a patient sign an outdated consent form.

4 Types of e-Consent Forms

A laptop with a paper sheet coming out of it

Consent systems have the potential to be complex, which is why many people prefer to use the terms “opt-in” and “opt-out.” An opt-in consent system means that the patient allows the healthcare organization to access their health information for all future requests, while an opt-out model denies the use of patient information for future treatments. The opt out system requires patients to sign a new informed consent document every time their records need to be accessed.

The problem with these two types of e-Consent is that they’re two extreme ends of a spectrum. There’s still a wide range of possibilities in between these two models in which patients have more control over what they permit the medical centers to access. Here are the four main types of e-Consent Forms:

1. General Consent

This type of e-Consent is generally known as the “opt-in” model as it gives blanket consent to healthcare professionals working in a specified health context. General consent gives access to all of the patient’s health information needed to give the customer the right care and treatment for their condition. This consent is used for all future information requests unless the consent is suddenly revoked by the patient.

2. General Consent with Specific Denial(s)

Patients who signed this type of e-Consent give a general consent to the healthcare provider, except for a few things, such as:

The blanket access for all future requests is slightly modified based on specific conditions decided by the patient. For example, a patient may sign a general consent but chooses to exclude the disclosure of a gynecologic procedure, disclosure to their family members, or disclosure for purposes that don’t have anything to do with treating a cardiovascular condition.

3. General Denial with Specific Consent(s)

This type of e-Consent denies the healthcare provider access to the patient’s health information except for specific conditions that are identified for specific consent, such as:

For example, a patient may authorize their primary physician to send a sample of different body fluids and other related information to a diagnostic laboratory for a series of tests. The lab results are then forwarded to the general practitioner to provide the right care and treatment for the patient’s health condition.

4. General Denial

This type of e-Consent is also known as the “opt-out” model. This means that the patient denies consent for the use of their medical record for future circumstances. Healthcare providers have to create a new consent for the patients every time they perform a new diagnosis, care, or treatment. This type of e-Consent decreases the ease of clinical access for future care and treatment but it’s a great way to protect the patient’s privacy.

Benefits of e-Consent Forms for Patient Care

People taking documents off shelves, looking through e-files with magnifying glass

Like other industries, technology is also reshaping the standard of providing medical care. Health care providers need to be well-versed in health information technology and the utilization of different digital and interactive tools.

Electronic consent forms easily surpass paper consent forms in providing better physician-patient communication. This allows doctors to give better patient care to their clients while offering additional benefits like:

1. Enhanced Workflow

Electronic consent forms on websites and smartphones are easy to integrate with existing Electronic Health Records (EHRs) or Electronic Medical Records (EMRs). Patients only need to sign the necessary documents through their device and the information is already streamlined into the informed consent process. They only need to read the consent on their tablet or phone anytime, then sign the form using their finger or stylus. This saves them and the staff additional time that may be used for other important tasks.

2. Risk Mitigation

Although printing and storing a single patient consent form might not seem much at first, these additional costs easily pile up. Healthcare providers allocate hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on creating and storing these paper-based consent forms, yet they’re still highly vulnerable to damages, loss, and stealing.

Electronic consent forms minimize these potential risks since there isn’t a physical copy that might get lost or damaged. Most e-Consent solutions come with excellent cybersecurity solutions that protect the stored patient information from hackers.

3. User-Friendly

The digital consent process and forms are easily accessible for patients anytime and anywhere, as long as they have an internet connection. This allows them to review the contents of the consent and sign it with just a few taps. Patients also have fewer chances of accidentally losing or damaging their copy of the electronic consent form compared to a paper-based one.

4. Enhanced Data Integrity

Since consent forms always update and change, it’s easy for paper-based forms to have decreased data integrity. Patients might sign the wrong or outdated consent, which affects their treatment and medical record.

Electronic consent forms have built-in security features that help preserve data integrity. Some systems come with GPS, timestamps, and a single sign-on that allows the healthcare staff to check when and where the consent was signed by whom. These details are especially helpful for authorities who need to see the audit trail.

5. Immediate and Organized Archival of Digital Consent

Finishing the informed consent process is immediate because everything is digital. This eliminates the concern for improperly filled out or lost forms. It also ensures that all processed e-Consent Forms are archived for compliance with the US Department of Health and Human Service regulatory requirements.

6. Quick Knowledge Acquisition and Better Patient Engagement

All kinds of consent forms have standardized and detailed information according to the patient’s needs. Paper-based consent forms are usually several pages long and full of complicated terms that might be difficult to understand for most patients.

Electronic consent forms accompanied by visuals and additional links help patients understand what they are consenting to better. This results in higher health literacy and engagement among patients since they have a good understanding of the study protocol.

7. Patient-Centered Care

Although informed consent is a legal and ethical requirement, e-Consent also helps empower patients. They should always be considered as partners in creating important healthcare decisions, which is why it’s important to give them control and access to their own health data. This also allows them to comfortably talk to the physician about their needs and preferences, which leads to better patient care by healthcare organizations.

How to Choose the Right e-Consent Solution

Electronic consent forms transform the experience for patients and providers since there are fewer administrative tasks to deal with. Patients also have the option to accomplish the forms at home whenever they want to. All of these potential benefits make e-Consent systems a must-have for healthcare providers.

Looking for a reliable e-Consent solution to help manage patient consent efficiently? Here are five things and basic elements to consider when selecting an e-Consent solution for the healthcare organization:

Improve Data Management with Calysta EMR

Digital health tools make the grueling administrative process easier for both parties, which is why healthcare organizations should utilize reliable solutions like Calysta EMR and other similar software for informed consent procedures.

Calysta EMR is an all-in-one cloud-based solution that helps healthcare providers manage medical records online. It also has tons of useful features that allow doctors to offer better care and treatment to their patients. Find out how Calysta EMR can help you manage your patient’s records better by contacting us today for an appointment.

With more healthcare providers using electronic patient portals and medical records for better patient care, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of acronyms used in health information technology. Terms like EMR and Patient Portal are often interchanged because of their similarities, but they’re actually made for different purposes.

So how is Patient Portal different from EMR? Patient Portals contain EMRs, but patients aren’t allowed to update their information there. Instead, Patient Portals provide them with different ways to communicate with a physician, view lab results, pay bills, book an appointment, and more.

Patient Portal vs. EMR: Which One Should You Use?

With the advancements in medical technology, most providers turn to digital solutions in handling the medical information of patients. Two of the most popular options among healthcare providers are EMR Systems (used by about 89-90% of healthcare staff) and Patient Portals (adopted by about 90% of the healthcare centers in the country).  

Choosing between an EMR system or Patient Portal depends on the needs and priorities of the health care provider. To help you decide which solution works best for the healthcare organization, here are some of the most important details of EMR and Patient Portal:

 EMRPatient Portal
End-UserHealth care institutionsPatients
InformationImportant health information like medical conditions, family history, and prescriptionsImportant information uploaded by both the patient and the provider
AccessPatient health information is gathered and managed by authorized clinicians and medical staff from a single healthcare organization.Medical information and findings are uploaded by the health care provider. Patients only have limited access to what they can edit, but they may also use portals to contact their doctor.

EMR software is an excellent choice for organizations that provide specific healthcare services like psychiatry and dentistry. On the other hand, it’s better to pick Patient Portals for those who want to offer patient-centered care through accurate monitoring and improved preventative care.

EMR

Various graphs and statistics before doctor

An Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is the digital version of a paper chart that contains a person’s medical history, allergies, medications, diagnoses, and immunization. Most EMRs are designed to only be used by doctors and a medical care team from one healthcare organization. Although EMRs are convenient and easy to use for healthcare professionals under the same organization, it’s difficult to let other providers see the data unless it’s printed and mailed to them.

EMRs are often confused with other medical records like the Electronic Health Record (EHR) and Personal Health Record (PHR). Although they contain almost the same type of information, these medical records have a different level of accessibility in information sharing. An EHR may be accessed by all authorized clinicians involved in patient care while a PHR is managed by the patient. Medical information from a PHR is only accessible to healthcare providers if the patient decides to give their consent.

What is an EMR for?

An EMR is for logging all the important medical information of a patient into a web-based or server-based system. It makes the medical record accessible for all medical staff within the healthcare organization. Providers often utilize EMR systems through mobile apps or secure web pages.

The EMR is always updated whenever a patient walks into the clinic. It records the reason for the visit, any treatment or diagnosis provided, and lab results that might come later. Having a reliable EMR system is extremely important for all healthcare providers because it’s slowly starting to take over the paper record system.

Important Features of an EMR

EMR systems come in different forms depending on how the healthcare organization prefers them. Most of the software available in the market leaves providers with a lot of space for customization, which makes EMR systems a must-have for medical practitioners. But if you’re still looking around for the best modern EMR systems to use, here are some essential features to consider:

Pros and Cons of Using an EMR

Although there are other similar solutions, some providers still use the EMR system for keeping their medical records organized and accessible in one place. If you’re considering using an EMR software too, here are a few benefits and disadvantages of EMR to help you make the right decision:

Pros

Cons

Although EMR systems are extremely helpful for safekeeping patient records under one healthcare organization, they also have a few drawbacks that might affect how the provider operates like:

Patient Portal

Online medical consultation

Patient portals are secure websites accessible to patients at any time, as long as they have an internet connection. A secure portal gives them access to their personal health information using a username and password.

Patients who want to access health information like billing, medications, doctor visits, allergies, and lab results are required to coordinate with the provider’s administrative staff first to help set up their medical portal account.

Patient portals are sometimes seen as a separate solution to EMRs, EHRs, and PHRs. However, most providers and developers describe Patient Portals as “PHRs tied to EHRs.”

What is a Patient Portal for?

These secure portals were created to improve interaction and communication between the patient and the health care team members. These systems encourage patients to assume a more active role in their health and wellness by providing them with easily accessible health records and a convenient way to contact their physician.

Patient portals (like Google Health) and are mostly utilized for retrieval of lab results, updating patient profiles, and contacting healthcare professionals and insurance providers. Some of these systems also allow patients to pay bills or book appointments with just a few clicks. Patient portals are important for healthcare providers because they help promote loyalty, streamline workflows, manage costs, and increase patient engagement.

Important Features of a Patient Portal

A patient portal is an extremely helpful tool that helps improve patient care provided by health care institutions. However, each provider has a different set of needs that might not be met by just any patient portal software. If you’re still looking for a patient portal to use, here are some essential features to consider:

Pros and Cons of Using a Patient Portal

Find out if a patient portal is a right solution for the healthcare organization by considering these benefits and disadvantages:

Pros

Cons

Although more providers have started patient portals and electronic health record adoption, there are still mixed reviews about this solution. Here are some of the biggest challenges in using patient portals:

Manage Medical Records with Ease Using Calysta EMR

Looking for software to help manage medical records with ease? Calysta EMR is an all-in-one solution that allows providers to organize and keep electronic medical records in the cloud-based platform for a more secure EMR management. It’s an aesthetics-focused software that’s also customizable to suit most practices.

Find out how Calysta EMR helps dermatologists and physicians focus more on providing better care and treatment for their patients by organizing medical records with ease. Contact us today to claim a 1-month free trial of this all-in-one EMR solution.

The digital age provides many opportunities for businesses and organizations to reach out to customers, and the medical industry is no exception. Hospitals, clinics, laboratories, and other medical facilities can provide their customers easy access to certain healthcare services with online websites and applications that give them convenient and secure access to what they need. 

So what is a patient portal account? A patient portal account is your patient’s access to healthcare online. Accessible to users 24/7 and providing real-time features, patient portals are a must-have for medical and healthcare facilities that want to make healthcare appointments and transactions  for their clients and patients convenient.  Here’s what you need to know before equipping your facility with patient portals.

What Does A  Patient Portal Account Do?

As mentioned, a patient portal account gives your patients or clients online access to a secure website or mobile app that has everything they need to know about their status with your business. What is available in your patient portal will depend on what kind of medical or healthcare facility you are operating.

These portals were designed to make it easier for users to manage their healthcare appointments and transactions. Portals are accessible to patients at any time of the day, so they can book their appointments and check on their medical history without the need to go to the actual facility. 

Patient portals can come in multiple forms. Some healthcare providers provide clients with access to their patient portal accounts on their main website. Others use third-party websites to host their facility’s own patient portal. While some have either a mobile app, use third-party health apps, or a patient portal within their existing electronic medical record to ensure all medical records are consolidated and up to date. 

What Your Patients Can Do

Patients with a patient portal account can access their medical records securely without having to physically go to their healthcare facility. Prior to patient portals, a hospital visit meant patients had to plan the better part of the day going to their healthcare provider for an office visit or to request a copy of their medical records or outstanding finances. Because of HIPAA regulations that protect the security of medical records, acquiring these documents took much longer. 

Today, patient portal accounts now easily give access to the following:

What You Can Do

While patient portals offer patients an easier way to focus on their personal health, they  also offer advantages to healthcare professionals. By providing your facility with its own patient portal, your medical professionals have the following advantages:

Benefits of a Patient Portal Account

professional doctor connecting and giving a consultation for a patient

The future of medical services is likely to see an increase in e-visits due to its convenience compared to the otherwise traditional way of booking appointments. More than convenience, other  benefits of a patient portal include:

How to Use a Patient Portal

You’ll need to register for a patient portal account first using your identification and other requirements your healthcare provider may ask from you.  From there, simply provide your email address, your password, or other necessary personal information.  You may be asked to verify your email address for updates.

Calysta: The All-in-One EMR

Patient portals are beneficial to both the healthcare facility and its patients. Offering patients and healthcare professionals easy access to all essential medical information, patient portals are a must-have for facilities looking towards the future of medical access. 

Calysta is more than just your average electronic medical record software; it’s your medical center’s all-in-one access to better interactions with your customer. Schedule your meetings, contact your patients, and store your data securely all under one software that caters to the needs of aesthetic and dermatological centers. Try Calysta for free for one month today. 

Patient scheduling is essential for medical practices that want to avoid overbooking, excessive walk-ins, or instances of inconveniencing patients. For facilities that are in high demand, scheduling appointments is one of the essential administrative tasks for the front of the office to keep your flow organized, estimate monthly revenue accurately, and ensure all those that walk into your business will be served. 

So what are some of the best medical appointment scheduling software? One is Calysta, where patients can quickly book appointments through their mobile devices, and medical facilities can easily coordinate with patients and organize patient appointments. Meanwhile, here are some of the best medical appointment scheduling software that we recommend.

Best Medical Appointment Scheduling Software

Calysta

Calysta is an electronic medical record system that caters to aesthetic physicians and dermatologists. It’s more than just a medical scheduling software: healthcare centers can access patient medical records, download customizable templates, communicate with their patients through text or teleconferencing, and collect touchless payments. It’s an all-in-one software that ensures a private practice’s patient information is found within one secure software. 

ProsCons
All-in-one EMR. Patient records, payment information, and contact information are all in one software. Note templates catered to aesthetic and dermatological practices. This saves doctors and practitioners time with documentation and ensures all patient records are uniform. Automated backups. Data is backed up in the cloud every day for  secure storage and easy retrieval. Partners with clinics. Calysta’s development team ensures the software evolves with the business’ needs. Supports touchless payments. This is the safer and more sanitary option as new normal calls for  reduced contact. Exclusive to aesthetic clinics. This is to avoid unnecessary feature bloat and provide clinics with features specifically catered to their niche. 

PracticeSuite

PracticeSuite is a medical practice management software that provides end-to-end patient care. Under one secure cloud, medical facilities can connect, collaborate, and care for their patients with efficiency under one platform.

ProsCons
“Anywhere access” to patient care. Medical professionals can securely access PracticeSuite with any device. 
“First-Available Scheduling”. Patients in a rush can easily find the next available appointment slot. Lite program offers appointment scheduling. PracticeSuite’s multiple features come in tiered packages with different pricing. Businesses can  opt for the lite package.. 
Designed for low-volume users. PracticeSuite can support practices of all sizes, but can only accommodate businesses with up to a hundred users. Not suitable for larger practices like hospitals. Difficult adjustment period. PracticeSuite reports some customers complaining about adjusting to the scheduling system and overcoming the learning curve of app navigation . 

SimplyBook.me

SimplyBook.me is an online booking system for all industries. Getting an account is free, though there are other tiered packages available at other prices. Its customers in the medical industry will find that it’s  customizable to their needs and can easily be integrated to their existing website. 

ProsCons
Up to 500 bookings per month. Its reasonable price and booking limit makes it the cost-effective choice for small practices. Integrate with your website, social media accounts, and your app. SimplyBook.me is mobile-optimized and can be integrated with your existing website. It can also accept bookings from Facebook, Instagram, Google, or from your own clinic’s app. Additional custom features. Improve client engagement with features like coupons, giftcards, packages, related sources, and more. 
Free version is not HIPAA-compliant. Clinics will have to purchase the standard package to receive HIPAA-approved security. Not a complete electronic medical record tool. SimplyBook.me is limited to medical appointment booking and online payments.

NephroChoice

NephroChoice provides EMR and practice management software solutions for dialysis centers, private practices for nephrologists, and other medical practices in the nephrology niche. 

ProsCons
Easily view trends from lab results. NephroChoice can track patient trends through graphs. Advanced dialysis management. The software alerts the facility if there are patients who have not met the four-visit threshold and can help your team provide patients with the right resources to meet their dialysis appointments. Limited to medical facilities under the nephrology specialization. Other niches may find the software lacking the EMR and practice management features they need to operate. 

Acuity Scheduling

Acuity Scheduling provides appointment scheduling to all industries, including medical and healthcare. The cloud-based software mainly caters to startups, individual practices, and small to medium businesses. 

ProsCons
Sync timezones. The calendar that users see is automatically adjusted to fit their timezone. Useful for patients attending teleconferencing appointments with their doctor. Real-time availability. Patients have access to the clinic’s real-time availability and can schedule their own appointments based on their availability. Clients fill up information at booking. Information taken from the intake form can be transferred to your clinic’s EMR, providing you with what you need to know in one place. 
Only most expensive pricing package is HIPAA-compliant. Acuity Scheduling is also not exclusive to the medical and healthcare industry.

SimplePractice

SimplePractice caters to private practices by providing an all-in-one practice management system. It simplifies the task of creating a website and connecting client portal platforms, allowing medical facilities to get this part of their operations done efficiently so that they can focus on the real operations of their practice. 

ProsCons
Unlimited appointment reminders. Help reduce no-shows by sending free voice messages, texts, and email appointment reminders. The platform also has the option to contact patients on a telehealth platform. Create your own website or integrate SimplePractice into your website. Build a simple but effective website with the templates available on the software. Inconsistent medical billing and payment processing. User reviews note problems with payment and billing for this medical billing software, such as not being able to pay partial balances or incomplete details in the billing reports. This has required one practitioner to keep records outside the system, which can pose a HIPAA risk. 

NextGen Office

Created from a company founded by two doctors in 1998, NextGen Healthcare is an electronic health record software made to help private practices with an all-in-one practice management solution. The award-winning EHR offers a variety of smart tools - including EHR, a patient portal, a revenue-cycle management, and more -  to help private practices provide higher quality care for their patients. 

ProsCons
Verifies patient eligibility to reduce rejections and denials. The software’s easy-to-navigate system and patient portal benefits both healthcare providers and patients. Improve patient engagement. NextGen Office’s patient portal allows patients to schedule appointments face-to-face or through teleconferencing, make online payments and other billing services, and request for medication refills. Can be prone to downtime. User reviews claim that when upgrades and maintenance is done to the software over the weekend, there are noticeable bugs and problems in the user interface afterwards. 

athenaOne

Rated the number one electronic health record app on the App Store, athenaOne is an all-in-one app for the medical industry.

ProsCons
Manageable user interface. User reviews commend the app’s friendly user interface during the setup. Patients can book appointments through the patient portal. They can also use the patient portal to review their history, download and sign forms, and transfer wireless payment. EMR connected with 160,000 providers. This provides medical practitioners with a larger network to consolidate patient information. Going overboard with patient communications. User reviews report that, by default, patients are reminded of their appointments through all lines of communication, which can be annoying for some. Can be difficult to use for follow-up visits. These are subject to user errors and may require the clinic to constantly review appointment bookings. 

Benefits of Digitizing Appointment Scheduling

A man with a pencil makes notes on the calendar, a woman with a tablet

Having medical scheduling software provides more advantages over your usual pen-and-paper appointment setting. Some of these benefits include: 

Reduce Overbooking and No-Shows

Overbooking means scheduling in more appointments than healthcare providers can take in, and this can lead to reduced customer satisfaction when your business can’t  accommodate the extra patients during their allotted schedule. Patient scheduling software can close off time slots that are fully booked to prevent additional patients from booking a certain period. Both  patients and staff can see which times are available for booking.

And while overbooking can be bad for business, so do no-shows. It’s a waste of time and money when patients do not show up for their scheduled appointment because that time slot could have been given to someone else who would have shown up. Electronic scheduling can not only remind patients of their appointments, but can also track appointment history and see late arrivals and no-show trends to see which patients have a habit of not showing up for their appointment.

Reduce Wait-Times for Patients

With so many available patient scheduling software platforms available online, more patients are willing to book an appointment rather than come in as a walk-in patient if it means reducing their time spent in the waiting room. 

In the past when the first-come, first-serve basis was practiced in clinics, patients waited for their names to be called without any assurance how long that would take. With a booked appointment, they can simply arrive a few minutes before their scheduled appointment and expect to be called into their medical appointment on time. This can help improve overall patient experience and reduce the inconvenience of waiting. 

Provide Patient Reminders

Patients have a number of reasons for forgetting their medical appointments and are either late to their upcoming appointments or don’t show up at all. Unfortunately for healthcare providers, this is time and resources wasted for what could have been a revenue-earning appointment. 

Prior to electronic patient scheduling software, it was not feasible for practice staff to remind all its patients of their upcoming appointment. With software, patients can receive reminders through text messages and emails. This makes them more likely to show up on time for their scheduled appointment. 

Effective and Fast Scheduling

Prior to online appointment scheduling, the most convenient appointment setting method was through email or calling medical offices to find an available time. This could result in an annoying back and forth correspondence as both medical staff and the patient try to find available times that could fit the patient’s schedule during the business’ operating hours. 

Today, scheduling software and apps can easily show patients all the available times. Fully-booked time slots are closed off and they see the facility’s calendar of appointments, giving them a quick view of when the next available schedule is. 

Schedule Your Clinic’s Appointments with Calysta

Medical appointment scheduling software provides cost-efficient web-based solutions for processing and organizing your patients’ appointments. With all the many available software products available, there’s no reason to keep inconveniencing your staff and your patients. Find the right software to match your needs. 

For aesthetic and dermatological clinics looking for software that’s specifically catered to their niche, Calysta does more than just appointment setting. Calysta is an all-in-one EMR that gathers all your patients’ data into one convenient software. Contact us today for a free one-month trial.

Paper documents have carried the medical industry for centuries. However, it’s not without its flaws. A paper record can easily be misplaced or destroyed by elements like fire, water, or pests. Paper records that are filed away can take up too much physical space in a business, and, when it’s time to retrieve these records, the office staff will take a considerable amount of time to find the documents they need,when this time  could be otherwise spent on other office duties.

So how are paper documents turned into electronic medical records?  All patient charts are scanned by independent firms and then integrated to the EMR of the hospital. Below is a detailed explanation of how medical centers are going digital and entering paper documents into their patients’ electronic medical records. 

Combining Paper and Electronic Medical Records

To this day, paper-based records aren’t completely obsolete, and some healthcare facilities are still using a combination of paper-based and digital documentation. While some medical and healthcare facilities are still transitioning to a fully digitized system, many of these facilities still see the advantages of paper documents and use a combination of paper documents and EMRs. 

Facilities that are transitioning or have fully transitioned to electronic health record data, there are many ways paper documents are entered into patients’ electronic records. Older paper documents are either scanned and filed as digital images in the medical organization’s cloud storage. When these document images are required by medical professionals, legal counsels, or any authorized users, a secure digital copy is provided. 

For more recent paper documents, some medical and healthcare facilities can easily scan or encode paper documents into an electronic template that offers a more uniform process that can streamline documentation and patient data. 

And then there are healthcare facilities that have fully transitioned to EMRs and have very minimal need for paper documents. If they do require paper documents, these are quickly scanned or encoded to their system to make data more accessible to those who need it. 

By entering data from paper documents into a patient’s electronic health record, healthcare providers not only make it easier for their staff to access this information in the future if it’s needed but also helps the patient and other healthcare facilities that may need the patient’s information to help treat them. 

How EMRs Work

EMRs connect the medical records of a patient in one health facility with the medical records of another facility with a compatible system. This allows facilities to consolidate a patient’s medical records, their medical history, and other important information into accurate records. These are then used by facilities to properly diagnose their patients and provide the right patient care. So, when one care provider takes in a patient, they can easily access compiled information that can help them understand a patient’s case. 

Thanks to regulations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), all protected health records (whether on paper or digital) should only be shared on a need-to-know basis. Since 2014, EMRs are required to carry information that are “in meaningful use.” That’s why certain healthcare organizations that only focus on a certain service should not be holding medical information that isn't  related to the services they provide. 

In the past, securing medical information from unauthorized access meant a long and strict process before doctors and other medical professionals from different facilities could get access to a patient’s data. Not only was it time-consuming (which could compromise critically-ill patients in need of emergency patient care), but it was an expensive cost for hospitals, which translated to higher additional costs for the patient. 

Today, various EMRs with compatible systems link hospitals, clinics, and other medical and healthcare records. And by digitizing paper documents, doctors and other healthcare professionals have more patient information that could help them treat their patients’ conditions more accurately. 

Why Hospitals and Other Medical Facilities Are Doing It

One of the bigger hurdles in the medical industry is when healthcare providers have limited information to treat their patients. Many patients can orally communicate their medical history, sign medical directives, and have laboratory tests done, but not all who come into medical facilities may have the time or capability to do so. 

A patient’s own personal health record is essential for doctors who want to give an accurate diagnosis and the safest treatment for it. By linking facilities like hospitals, clinics, laboratories, pharmacies, and other healthcare and medical organizations’ patient data, doctors and other professionals can get a bigger picture of the patient’s actual record. 

Today, blockchain technology like electronic systems have allowed doctors and hospitals to consolidate a patient’s records into one accessible file. This can help doctors quickly determine how much medical care they require and the limits of treatments or medication. 

Transferring medical records from paper to the cloud was a big step for the medical industry as it provided doctors with a patient’s entire medical history. Unfortunately, that’s not to say that EMRs are universal. Many healthcare facilities are either still transitioning to EMRs or have yet to go digital. It puts both their medical staff and their patients at a disadvantage because doctors can only go by the history their patients’ tell them, while patients do not get care from medical staff who have a clear idea of their patient’s medical record. 

What’s in a Medical Record?

Doctors examining a patient using a medical app on a smartphone

Not all hospitals, medical centers, and healthcare facilities carry the same format of electronic medical records. Depending on what’s necessary, some healthcare facilities may only carry the basics of medical records, while hospitals carry more comprehensive records. However, most organizations carry records of the following. 

1. Identification

Of course, the basics of any medical record should contain the identification information of any patient or customer. However, most organizations will require more than just your name to accurately compile the rest of your medical records together. This can include your:

2. Medical History

A patient or client’s medical history is a compilation of all the medical-related information on them. Think of histories of patients as painting a picture of a patient or client. A patient whose current record has minimal diagnoses and history is someone who’s likely in fit condition and has rarely needed medical care. On the other hand, someone with a long list of treatments and diagnoses suggest a patient that is more prone to chronic or acute ailments. This includes:

One of the benefits EMRs has provided healthcare providers is that doctors could look into previous medical and laboratory results rather than having their patients undergo the same test twice under two different facilities. This helped to reduce the patient’s costs while also streamlining the diagnosis by giving doctors more available medical information. 

3. Medication History

A patient’s history of medications can affect their health and the efficacy of medicines later in life. This includes over-the-counter medicines, prescriptions, herbal remedies, and even illegal substances. 

This is crucial especially for doctors prescribing medicine since some medicines should not be taken with certain types of medicines at risk of worsening symptoms. And aside from medications, having access to information like patient allergies can help doctors avoid prescribing medication that can trigger allergic reactions. 

4. Family Medical History

A patient’s family history can be indicative of genetic risks that make them more prone to certain conditions or diseases. 

For one example, a person can have the recessive gene for sickle cell anemia but not show any symptoms because they didn’t receive the gene from both their parents. While that person might be safe, their child may be at risk for sickle cell anemia if they have a child with someone who has the gene. 

In another example, diseases like Type 2 Diabetes can be hereditary. However, even if both parents have Type 2 Diabetes, there’s no guarantee that their child will have it later in life. However, if their child practices an unhealthy lifestyle into adulthood, there’s a much higher chance they will develop it. 

5. Treatment History & Medical Directives

Treatment history is essential for doctors as it indicates which treatment patients have undergone in the past and whether or not it was effective. For example, a patient’s treatment history can include being given antibiotics to fight off bacterial infection. Knowing this can help doctors prevent overexposing their patient to antibiotics and causing antibiotic resistance. 

Medical directives, on the other hand, are the instructions of a patient or their legal guardians about what to do in case of medical emergencies. For example, if a patient in critical care does not wish to be resuscitated in case of an emergency, it is much more efficient for them to have a DNR on record rather than signing multiple forms and waivers each time they receive medical attention. 

How Going Electronic Benefits Both Hospitals and Patients

woman connecting with a doctor online using a smartphone app

Transitioning from paper records to electronic medical records is more than just having less paperwork to file manually. It can benefit both the hospital or healthcare facility and its patients through various means. To name a few a few of these benefits:

1. Efficient Medical Document Retrieval

Medical records are protected by HIPAA. In the past, this meant that medical documents were heavily guarded to protect sensitive patient data. As a result, retrieving medical data was a time-consuming process that involved a lot of hurdles. 

Today, with the HIPAA-compliant technology of various EMR software, gathering consolidated patient data becomes an efficient, secure, and fast process. Medical practitioners in need of patient information fast will not only find it easier to gather the clinical records of the patients, but would also relay information to and from medical professionals and patients. 

2. Personalized Care

There have been many instances where patients receive cookie-cutter or even wrong treatment because doctors didn’t understand the full extent of a patient’s condition. However, now that EMRs have made data easier to share, medical practitioners can get a better view of a patient’s medical condition and understand the best way to provide patient care according to their needs.

3. Faster Patient Consent Management

Earlier, we talked about how medical records in facilities can contain medical directives, including DNRs. Having medical staff ask patients to sign DNRs every time a patient seeks medical treatment is not only counterproductive but can also be impossible at times. For instance, if a patient enters a hospital unconscious or unable to communicate, medical staff cannot get consent from the patient themselves and will have to ask their next-of-kin who might not have the same wishes as the patient. 

Doctors can also protect themselves from medical malpractice through EMRs. Patients must sign non-editable forms consenting to certain treatments or operations. These digital documents are time stamped and serve as proof of a patient’s consent and can prevent lawsuits of medical malpractice due to erroneous entries. 

Your Aesthetic Practice Needs More Than Just an EMR

While paper documents have their advantages, electronic medical records are the way to go for those who want seamless data storage, improved health management for patients, and reliable information with just a few clicks. It streamlines medical protocols, provides  easier secure access to authorized users, and benefits both patients and healthcare providers. 

For the aesthetic and dermatological clinics in search of an electronic medical record software that fits with their business’s needs, Calysta provides the all-in-one EMR solution: HIPAA-compliant secure cloud storage, custom note templates, practice schedules, and more - all in one software. 

Calysta’s electronic medical record software offers more than just an efficient way to manage your patient records. Schedule appointments, host online meetings, collect payments, and ensure the safety of your patients’ information. Try Calysta today

The medical field has come a long way from what it was centuries ago, and so has its documentation and record-keeping. Today, electronic medical records have made information gathering and processes in medical facilities faster, more convenient, and less costly. This, in turn, translates to lower medical costs and more personalized medical care for patients. 

When you think of the history of medical documentation, you’ll see how far healthcare technology has adapted to meet the needs of the industry. So, how did electronic medical records start? Here’s an in-depth look at the history of EMRs and how this tool has changed the way healthcare professionals provide care. 

History of Electronic Medical Records

Let’s take a look at the different eras of medical documentation and how far humanity has come from instructional documentation to an electronic platform that benefits both medical professionals and patients. 

Early Medical Documentation

Medical documentation can be traced as far back as the Egyptian and Greek civilizations. The earliest doctors and medical providers kept records as  instructional materials for other medical practitioners. This meant that those who sought medical treatment for certain symptoms were treated using only what might have worked for previous patients. 

It wasn’t until the 14th to 16th century when medical practitioners realized the importance of recording their cases and findings as references for other practitioners.. They began documenting case histories, especially as scientific discoveries were making strides towards more advanced medical procedures. However, doctors often kept their own journals, making the sharing of these findings limited within their network. 

Pre-Electronic Documentation

By the start of the 19th  century, medical documentation was more formalized. In the past, cases and findings were written in physician diaries. Instead, these were now documented and kept in hospital records and libraries for teaching purposes. However, systems varied between hospitals, and there was no uniform system in place. 

Before the 1960s, hospitals began the practice of medical record keeping by storing all paper medical records in manual filing systems. Each patient had a file that had all their medical information,  labeled with the patient’s last name, social security number, or a unique numbering system developed by the hospital. These were then filed within the hospital’s library. However, to retrieve these files, those with authorized access would have to dig through numerous patient files. Because not all hospitals shared this information, it was difficult to find or receive access to the patient’s files if they were previously treated in a different facility. 

Early Data Processing Systems

By the 1960s, computers and software were beginning to innovate and enter the private market. This meant that a hospital, healthcare organization, or any other medical facility could now use early document processors to encode and record patient information, instead of the traditional paper medical records. 

The earliest concept of electronic medical records came from American physician Lawrence Weed, who believed that computers could make clinical data management more efficient. In 1969, he developed PROMIS, one of the earliest versions of an electronic health record that followed the problem-oriented medical record documentation he invented. 

While PROMIS was invented first, it was the Regenstreif Institute’s EMR that got picked up in 1972 and was used by multiple hospitals. It was a major step for healthcare providers and medical practices, as it provided hospitals the ability to unite medical records. 

Unfortunately, while the computers of the ‘70s are considered rudimentary compared to the technology we have today, computers were a relatively new product in the market,and were very expensive back then. Because of this, the EMR was mostly used by government hospitals, while private hospitals continued the use of paper-based records. By the ‘80s, there was an increased effort to boost the use of EMRs for healthcare providers, but there wasn’t  a boom for it until the ‘90s.The ‘90s and the Rise of Computers

By the ‘90s, computers, gadgets, and the internet were on the rise. Companies like Windows and Apple were making computers more affordable for businesses and consumers. For the medical industry, this meant more healthcare providers using computers to improve patient care while keeping electronic medical records. 

Around the mid-1980s, the Institute of Medicine conducted a study on paper record usage and published the results in 1991. In the study, they argued that electronic medical records will improve accessibility to patient records, and proposed to convert paper records into digital records . They also projected that, by 2000, every medical healthcare facility would use computers to improve their patient care. 

Thanks to the improved accessibility of computers and these findings, more hospitals opted to transition their paper records into electronic medical records. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 was then signed into law. This meant that all healthcare facilities had to ensure everyone’s health and medical information - down to a person’s name - were all properly secure, both on paper and on an electronic exchange. 

Not all healthcare facilities had EMRs that complied with these security standards at the time. This would lead to multiple concerns over data privacy and several laws passed in the future to ensure patients’ medical info were secure and accessible only to authorized users. 

Medical Records, Cybersecurity, and Politics

By the early 21st century, the internet was steadily growing. More healthcare facilities were transitioning to a remote electronic medical record system by making all their older paper files digitized and available to other hospitals with compatible EMRs. This greatly benefited medical professionals, as EMRs became more affordable and were becoming a faster and convenient solution to providing proper medical care. 

As EMRs began to take off, the federal government took notice after seeing the benefits to the healthcare industry. After 2001, George W. Bush saw the need for medical institutions to upgrade their documentation processes with EMRs. 

More budget allotment went to healthcare IT projects and the National Health Information Coordinator position was created.This helped medical facilities in the United States take great leaps in making patient data more accessible while adhering to HIPAA regulations. 

By 2014, EMRs had become a popular method of keeping patient data. Thus, there were calls for the entire medical industry to adopt electronic medical record systems - a mandate that Barack Obama supported. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act incentivized healthcare professionals to adopt electronic health record systems and provide additional funding. 

EMRs Today

Today, there are plenty of HIPAA-compliant EMR software available in the market. Additional patient record management tools like patient portals have also become available with the rise of mobile devices and cloud technology. Patients could now easily access medical records or schedule doctor appointments through their mobile devices.

In fact, the lines between these tools are starting to blur as third-party software companies are now providing all-in-one software that connects medical and healthcare facilities to other facilities’ records while also offering various software catered to the facility’s needs. 

The Benefits of EMR Systems

Four hands holding a puzzle

On top of the incentives of going digital, EMRs offer three additional benefits that are making paper-based documentation more obsolete. This includes:

Minimized Errors

Paper-based documentation is prone to human error. At the very least, doctors may be unable to read illegible handwriting and decipher their patient’s medical histories. Or worse, it can lead to misdiagnosing a patient, which can result in medical malpractice lawsuits. 

EMRs offer a solution by taking illegible handwriting, misspellings, and unreadable data out of the equation, standardizing patient records, and reducing the room for errors. Digital l documents can also be time-stamped and signed by patients, which provides more efficient consent management and legal protection of  medical practices. Cost-Effective Consolidation

Before electronic medical records, if a healthcare provider wanted to obtain a patient's records, they would have to sift through a library of files to track down the right paper-based records. This inconvenience translated to delayed treatment for patients and higher medical costs for obtaining files. 

EMRs consolidate information in one central cloud and connect with other compatible systems. With the ability to share information between facilities, healthcare providers can save time and costs. 

Coordination Between Hospitals and Healthcare Providers

With cost-effective consolidation, healthcare centers can allow primary care physicians to communicate with hospital care providers and other medical facilities and improve the quality of care coordination. Before EMRs, the slow process of obtaining paper-based documents resulted in patients not receiving proper care on time.Compared with paper-based documentation, information exchange between hospitals and healthcare providers is constantly updated in real-time, safely and securely.. Keep Your Aesthetic Practice in the Network

The medical and healthcare industry has come a long way from paper-based patient records. Thanks to EMRs, healthcare providers can now provide fast, convenient, and secure access to crucial patient information that can be used to provide better treatment. 

For aesthetic and dermatological practices, Calysta is the EMR software catered specifically to what your facility  needs. On top of cost-effective patient record cloud storage, you get software that streamlines your operations,  schedules your appointments, collects payments, communicates with your patients, and more. 

Experience what Calysta can offer your business with a free trial. Contact us today to learn more. 

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