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EMR Lingo: Seamless, Redundant, and Flexible

On these forums and blogs having to do with EMR, there are certain buzz words, lingo that writers like to throw around, assuming that we all know what they're talking about.

Three of these terms are “seamless”, “redundant”, and “flexible.” Exactly what do they mean?
Seamless means that the computer is handling everything, taking care of details, making sure that the data are recorded everywhere on the system that it needs to be entered. When an appointment is scheduled, everybody in the practice who needs to know about that appointment gets it. When a lab visit or requirement is entered, everybody in the practice who needs to know that information gets it. The system should make sure that insurance codes and limits, alerts for patient allergies, and much more are taken care of automatically.

For an EMR system to be seamless ordinarily means that EMR and Practice Management functions should be part of one system. To save money, some physicians attempt to glue EMR onto older PM software. This can often be done, but it is not advisable. You’ll be dealing with separate vendors, separate contracts, separate support, separate everything. Not good. If you want your system to be seamless, look for EMR and PM that is part of one system.

Redundant means there is more than one way of doing something. Think of MS Word. You can cut and paste using icons or using key strokes. That’s an example of redundancy. A good EMR system will be redundant to a point, that it, it will give the user a choice of how to use the software. In the end, most users will find a way that is most comfortable to him or her and stick with it.

So then, a good EMR should be redundant, but not duplicate everything so much that the system becomes confusing. The word “clunky” is often used. In short, good EMR should do everything you want it to do, but be straightforward and easy to understand and use.

And always, good EMR should be flexible, which is code for your ability to change the forms and charts to fit your personal preferences and professional requirements. Almost all EMR vendors tout “flexibility” but few of them really are. They pretend they have flexibility. For a system to be flexible, you should be able to change the templates quickly and easily yourself. You shouldn’t have to hire a techie or nag your vendor to do it for you.