The Complete Guide to EHR Development for 2021

EHRs are a topic of huge debate among the medical fraternity. The benefits of switching to digital health records are undeniable. The ease of accessibility and increased interoperability that EHRs provide has made sure that EHR software is here to stay.

Analysts have forecasted robust growth in the EHR market in the coming years.

On the flip side however, EHR are also attributed to be a leading cause of physician burnout. According to a recent research conducted at University of New Mexico, EHRs contribute to 40 percent of physician stress.

While EHRs are here to stay and we will see a continued adoption and increase in technological innovation in the field of EHR development, whether you reap the full benefits will depend on how you strategize, develop and implement the EHR software within your healthcare organization.

As more and more hospitals and healthcare organizations are moving away from off the shelf solutions towards custom developed EHRs, here’s a comprehensive guide that answers all the questions you might have about EHR software development.

Commonly asked questions about EHR development

1. What is the difference between EHR and Practice Management Software?

EMRs, EHRs and PM software are often used interchangeably as the motive behind all these medical software remains the same- streamlining the operations of your healthcare practice.

However, EMR/EHR deals with the clinical side of your practice while a practice management software deals with the operations end of it which includes scheduling, billing, claims processing etc.

Electronic medical records (EMRs) and electronic health records (EHRs) are essentially the digitalized version of your patient’s health records. This software is aimed at collecting, accessing, storing and transferring the patient’s complete health information through secure servers.

EMR is just the snapshot of a patient’s medical history which includes the treatment history, overview of past visits, diagnosis and treatment given. EHR, on the other hand, contains more extensive patient data which can also be shared among the necessary stakeholders.

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) has given the following definition for EHRs.

“The Electronic Health Record (EHR) is a longitudinal electronic record of patient health information generated by one or more encounters in any care delivery setting. Included in this information are patient demographics, progress notes, problems, medications, vital signs, past medical history, immunizations, laboratory data and radiology reports.

The EHR automates and streamlines the clinician’s workflow. The EHR has the ability to generate a complete record of a clinical patient encounter—as well as supporting other care-related activities directly or indirectly via interface—including evidence-based decision support, quality management, and outcomes reporting “

2. What is the best approach to develop EHR software?

While there are ready-to-use EHR systems in the market which includes open-source software as well as commercially licensed software, their customization is not always cost-effective. Conversely, developing a fully fledged EHR system that is loaded with numerous features is also not a cost-effective option.

Therefore, when developing an EHR software tailored to your needs, it is always best to take an MVP approach. An MVP refers to a minimum viable product that contains the minimum set of features that are a must-have when launching your medical software.

This MVP development gives you an EHR prototype which acts as a proof of concept for your EHR system.

Once all the must have features have been included in the first phase of medical software development, the nice-to-have features can be added in further iterations.

This development approach is cost-effective, results in development of a scalable prototype and allows you to pivot at any stage of the development process leading to a better software product.

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3. What are the stages of EHR development?

The EHR development process can be divided into the following stages.

  • Discovery stage
  • Development stage
  • Testing and compliance stage
  • Implementation stage
  • Evaluation stage

The discovery stage deals with setting goals for your EHR system, shortlisting on the features that you need to include in the first iteration of the software. The development stage involves user interface, user experience design and transforming the ideas into lines of code. The testing and compliance stage is aimed at ensuring privacy and security of the patient data and compliance to the regulatory norms.

Only through a thorough planning, seamless execution and in-depth analysis of the EHR software through the various stages of EHR development can you ensure that the software developed adds to the clinical efficiency and is a value add to the existing workflow.

4. What are the must have features when developing an EHR system

Ease of Use: The EHR software that you develop needs to be user friendly and provide an engaging user experience. It needs to add value to the existing care workflows rather than add burden on your team of physicians and nurses.

Automated Charting: The EHR software needs to streamline management and automation through customizable chart templates that fit your practice’s needs are a great way to achieve that. Leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning in future iterations of your EHR software would streamline data entry and reduce the charting burden on your team.

Medication History and ePrescriptions: All the medications that have been prescribed to the patient should be at the physician’s disposal at any given time.

Additionally, having ePrescribing allows better comprehension of the medication being administered and reduces the chances of medication errors as a result of illegible handwriting. You can also have the prescription being sent out to the pharmacy directly in future iterations of your EHR software.

Comprehensive patient records and patient portal: Electronic document management is the bane of EHRs existence. It should ideally eliminate paperwork and reduce the time spent by the staff on admin duties.

Patient portal is another extension of the EHR that gives patients access to their own data, improves the engagement in their health regimen and improves the overall outcomes.

Interoperability: Due to diverse functions and wide range of integrations, EHR software that you develop needs to be interoperable along with any other medical software that your practice currently uses like scheduling, billing, claims processing to be able to maximize the benefits it offers.

It also needs to integrate with the laboratory software, enabling a two way transmission of data and test results.

5. How much time and money would it cost to custom develop EHR software?

The estimated costs and timeline of development depends upon the features that you plan to include in the EHR software. A feature rich software which requires multiple API integrations will take much longer and cost much higher than an EHR software that is developed taking the MVP approach.

The cost and development timeline also depend on the device type that you are developing the EHR software for. If it is going to be a desktop-only software, the timelines would be shorter but if you plan on including a mobile version for your EHR (which you should), the development time and costs associated with it would rise.

Even with mobile EHR solutions, you can choose to develop native apps for both Android and iOS devices or you can go for cross-platform development using hybrid programming languages like React Native and Flutter.

When developing native apps, the code for the software has to be written individually for each operating system whereas in cross-platform development, since the codebase is shared, development only takes half the time and effort.

Because of high variation in the features and associated timelines, the best way to get accurate development costs is to obtain a custom quote based on your unique requirements.

Get in touch with Arkenea, a trusted healthcare software development company with over a decade of experience in helping healthcare organization develop custom software.

6. How to choose the right partner for developing EHR software

Software development in the field of healthcare is tricky. Along with the security requirements for ensuring the safety of sensitive patient data, there are also legal and regulatory requirements like HIPAA and HITECH laws that medical software has to comply with.

Partnering with an experienced healthcare software development company can amplify the chances of your success when developing an EHR software for your practice.

Specializing in the healthcare niche and having worked for clients ranging from established practices to up-and-coming healthcare startups, Arkenea is a trusted brand in the field of healthcare software development.

With more than 9 years of experience, a team of expert developers and a number of success stories in our portfolio, we can help take your project to the next level.

Whether you are transitioning from a legacy paper based system to an EHR or or looking for a much-needed upgrade, our team would be happy to help you and solve any other queries that you may have.

Vinati Kamani
 

Dr Vinati Kamani writes about emerging technology and its application across industries for Arkenea. She is an avid reader and self proclaimed bibliophile. When Vinati is not at her desk penning down articles or reading up on the recent trends, she can be found travelling to remote places and soaking up different cultural experiences.