Paper Charting versus EMR for your Midwife Business
Part of creating your midwifery business includes deciding on paper charting or using an electronic system. Each has it pros and cons. Each midwifery practice style determines which makes more sense. Maybe you are serving Amish, cashing paying population, with no electricity for home births. In this situation, you be less likely to want EMR system (would need hot spot and back up charging system for your computer).
You can always hybrid systems. I did EMR for most everything except for home visits and labor. I would scan those documents into my EMR system after care was provided. I found it too cumbersome to worry about my computer wanting to work right when I did a hour home postpartum visit or during labor prepping for baby to come fast. Paper is reliable and easily available. I didn’t have to worry about was my computer going to do turn on, be slow while something is downloading, or be a distraction from focusing on the mother.
If your practice is strictly gynecological services, it makes a lot more sense being on an EMR system. There are so many wonderful templates that can be tweaked for each woman that will save you lots of time and money. Instead of handwriting her annual exam. Pull up EMR template and click parts that are pertinent to today’s assessment only. When diagnosis is picked, many system will suggest routine labs, screenings, or testing that pertain to that specific diagnosis. For example, gyn exam will come up with pap smear, colonoscopy, mammogram, and vaccination recommendations for her age group.
There are many EMR systems to choose from. Some are specific to midwives while others are more focused on medical practice size. Mobel Midwife EHR, Client Care, Accuro EMR, Maternity Neighborhood, and ClearEHR are the more common midwife specific electronic systems. It is nice to use a system specific to your specialty. We, as midwives, tend to care for parts of women’s lives and in settings that most of the medical system doesn’t do. Few doctors do home births. You want an EMR system that understands your specific needs.
There are EMR systems out there that are set up for medical practices of all specialties and easily customize able. Athena Health tends to serve small to medium sized medical practices of all specialties. I have used them for years. Even though I couldn’t chart with labor at home (more my choice), I could have easily created templates within system to use for labor. Since this system is more for hospital based medical practices, it would be a perfect fit for any midwife choosing a hospital based midwifery practice. It is easy to fax records, collaborate with referrals and see lab results. Patients have access to view results, schedule appointments, and pay bills online or phone. I could disable or keep any part of the system I wanted. If I wanted statements to show patients call my office directly to pay for balances, I could do that. If I wanted online, credit card, Athena’s customer support team accept phone calls with payments, I could do that.
My goal with time has been focus on what I do best, being a midwife and outsource other aspect of my administration: billing and receptionists skills with a flat commission system. I can do my own appointment reminders or schedule personalized calls from Athena to do that. I can tell them how to handle calls, what is my no show policy, and how to handle collection matters. Many midwife EMR systems I have played with don’t have nearly all the administration/back drop systems in place to handle a larger volume midwifery practice.
No system will be perfect and they are always evolving to ever changing health care system. Make sure you asked lots of questions when interviewing midwifery EMR systems. If you are not serving a specific population like Amish or large volume, it might make more sense to do paper charting. Most midwifery practices having to deal with HIPAA compliance, patient accessibility to results, and keeping up with technology age should consider an EMR system. There are many kinds to choose from.
Ask details of their systems, services, and costs including commissions and flat monthly fees. Interview with questions about where you want your practice to be in one year, three years, and ten years. Your services may evolve and you want an EMR system that can do everything you want to do now and later with practice expansion. It is very stressful switching EMR systems once you get started. Pick wisely and take your time deciding. You will find one that works for you once your business plan is written and vision of your specific services are known.