Specialty-Specific vs. Multi-Specialty EHR

Encouraged by various federal incentives such as Meaningful Use and MIPS, more and more healthcare providers are adopting and implementing EHR solutions in their practices. In response to the growing demand for healthcare software solutions, the number of software vendors is constantly increasing as well. By most estimates, there are approximately 500 vendors offering some kind of EHR solution. 

With numerous options available on the market, selecting the right EHR is a real challenge for healthcare providers. Before choosing the software for your practice you need to consider many things, including the type of solution you want — a specialty-specific EHR or a multi-specialty one. 

While one-size-fits-all EHR provides basic functionality that fits practices of any size and specialties, specialty-specific solutions have more to offer. Unlike multi-specialty EHRs they are designed to cater to the needs of each medical specialty, be it dermatology, gynecology, or pediatrics. 

To help you finally make up your mind, below, we’re going to compare the two types of EHR solutions. 

Effectiveness of operations

Smooth workflow

Today customizable templates are an integral part of the functionality of many EHR software. They make a regular EHR a one-size-fits-all solution that can meet the needs of any medical specialty. But is it really the case? Many healthcare providers claim that customizing each feature to the needs of their specialty is a cumbersome and time-consuming procedure that often distracts them from delivering care to the patients. 

With a specialty-specific EHR in place, there’s no need for tiresome customization. It already has all the features and templates clinicians in a particular medical practice may need. The set of necessary features varies according to the type of practice e.g. oncologists need provisions for setting up chemotherapy treatment sessions or radiation, pediatricians — vaccination schedules and growth charts, cardiologists — monitoring the level of patients’ cholesterol, lipids, and blood sugar. Only useful functionality without any redundant features is just what the doctor ordered. It helps streamline daily operations and prevent physicians from burnout.

Quality of care

Having a system fully tailored to the practice needs can help deliver more effective and timely care. With no need to customize a multi-specialty EHR, physicians have more time for patient engagement. It results in better outcomes and helps improve the overall patient experience. 

Interoperability

Exchange of medical data

However, there’s a fly in the ointment of specialty-specific EHR advantages. They show a lack of interoperability with other providers compared to multi-specific solutions. According to the 2016 Black Book report, it is a concern for 88% of specialist physicians.

Doug Brown, founder and president of Black Book Market Research claims that most specialty-specific EHRs haven’t fit within a well-structured system of medical information exchange and, therefore, have been considered unable to compete with large one-size-fits-all EHRs.

Lack of EHR interoperability can impede the exchange of medical data among several providers and, accordingly, hinder timely patient care. Moreover, it presents a serious obstacle to providers’ participation in the Promoting Interoperability Programs. 

Market options

Another problem with adopting specialty-specific EHRs is the restricted nature of their market. With only a few vendors the choice of software is rather limited. Therefore, even providers that need a specialty-specific EHR solution, have to opt for a multi-specialty solution instead.

Furthermore, the 2016 Black Book report states that 29% of independent specialists switched EHRs in favor of a multi-specialty EHR because they feel that limited specialist-specific EHRs may compromise growth and stability in their practices.

It’s up to you to decide

Choosing the right EHR

However, implementing a specialty-specific EHR solution probably makes sense only for small practices specializing in one discipline since multi-specialty practices need a solution that can cover the needs of several specialties. So before making a choice you need to consider your practice’s type, needs, and requirements. 

If you have any questions about EHR/EMR adoption, feel free to drop us a line. Our consultants will get back to you as soon as possible and guide you on your custom software development.