Physical therapists have a hands-on approach to caregiving that requires focus and a strong connection with their patients. Between activities like testing a patient’s range of motion or teaching a new exercise, they can’t spend their appointments with their heads in an EHR.
Efficiency is the top priority out of an EHR for physical therapists. This software needs to be customizable, intuitive and friendly to the provider on-the-go. To achieve this for your physical therapy practice, look for an electronic health record with these six key features.
As you know, your patient’s lower back pain will most likely not be resolved after one session. Physical therapy is a long term project, so your EHR should have features to support that. With persistent templates, you won’t have to re-enter the same information into a patient’s chart every single time they come into an appointment.
Your charting tools should lend themselves more naturally to the care you give. While you spend weeks helping a patient through their hamstring strain, you should be able to simply copy their information from the first clinical note into all future encounters, so you can focus on achieving great health outcomes.
Image Annotation and Videos
Communicating an injury or exercise to patients visually can speed up the learning process during physical therapy. Your EHR software should allow you to take pictures from your iPad and annotate them directly from your patient’s chart, allowing you to clearly highlight areas of concern or correct a patient’s form in an exercise. This should work as seamlessly with other clinical images such as x-rays.
As with pictures, videos are another useful tool for physical therapists. A physical therapy EHR platform should allow you to capture videos and share them with your patients. If a patient is struggling to perform an exercise at home, these videos will serve as a necessary visual reminder of the proper form.
Every care provider has their own optimal methods of working through a patient chart. However, some electronic health records only support rigid, premade templates. To create the perfect workflow for your physical therapy practice, find an EHR system that provides a library of customizable, specialty specific templates. If none of those templates seem like a good starting point for your medical practice, then you should be able to create a charting template of your own from scratch.
Cloud-based, Mobile EMR
Physical therapy often involves significant motion from both the patient and the provider, so an EMR that cannot move with them is impractical. A mobile friendly electronic medical record software allows providers to perform all of their charting tasks within a robust application on their iPad or iPhone.
A software that works on mobile devices and desktop computers gives physical therapists the flexibility they need to handle charting without disrupting the flow of an appointment. After the appointment, patient communication is even easier with a mobile EHR because providers can securely respond to messages from anywhere.
Throughout the course of treatment, patients will need to communicate with their physical therapist. With a secure, HIPAA compliant patient portal that works on iPhone, iPad or computer, patients will be able to send messages or questions to their provider.
Patients often need extra support when attempting exercises outside of their sessions, but you cannot always be there to guide them through these activities. Using your patient portal, you can share exercise videos and encouragement to keep them on track with their treatment plans between appointments.
A secure, open API can maximize the customizability of your EHR by opening up the platform to third party software integrations. While your EHR should have the features you need, you may still have a list of nice-to-have tools that are not native to your platform.
Physical therapy is also largely dependent on outcome tracking. If your EHR does not have native outcome tracking features, it should be able to seamlessly work with a software like OutcomeMD. Since physical therapists are seeing patients over extended periods of time, outcome tracking software that integrates with your EHR will give a clearer picture of the progress being made.
Other types of partner software to look for as a physical therapist are patient education platforms. Some of these platforms can give you access to extensive libraries of prescription exercise videos, and if they can integrate with your EHR, sharing those videos with patients would be much easier.
It’s unlikely that any physical therapist once sat up at night dreaming of the day they could type endlessly into an electronic health record software. By including these six features into your EHR search, you will be able to find a platform that lets you focus more on the care you give instead of the software that documents it.