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EHR Systems for Small Practices: 2016 Recommendations

EHR Systems for Small Practices: 2016 Recommendations
Credit: a2studio/Shutterstock

While some of the biggest electronic health records (EHR) companies are focused on large hospitals, there are plenty of EHR firms that tailor their products to small practices. Finding the one that's right for your small medical practice most likely means focusing on issues like cost and ease of use.

A cloud-based option is probably more effective for small businesses rather than a system that requires hosting servers on the premises. By outsourcing the hosting to the vendor, small practices don't need to maintain an IT staff beyond what they need for their own computer network. If something goes wrong with the system on the vendor's end, it's their responsibility to fix it.

Interested in an electronic health records systems for a specialty medical practice? See our recommendations for the best EHR systems for specialists

Dr. James Legan, a Montana-based internist who works at a multi-specialty practice, told Business News Daily vendor support is also a key for small practices, and echoed the idea that ease of use is essential. 

Legan, who now uses Amazing Charts, said that minimizing downtime in case a problem should arise and making sure the system is intuitive are especially important to his practice.

Systems that are difficult to use will not only slow down your service to patients, they could frustrate your employees, too. 

Marshall Maglothin, Healthcare Engagement Partner at the consulting firm Tatum, said that simplicity is essential.

“Our most expensive and valuable resource is our time,” said Maglothin, who has experience using EpicCare, MEDENT, and athenahealth's EHR systems.

Editor's Note: Looking for an electronic health records system for your medical practice? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free: 

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Cost is also a key concern for small practices. Luckily, there are many vendors that focus on small practices and try to tailor their products to the needs of those providers. Here are a four small practice EHRs we recommend you consider. To learn more about how we chose these, see our methodology section below.

  1. SOAPware: A system that consistently received high marks across the board, SOAPware offers a solid bang for your buck. The one-time activation cost seemed pricey, quoted to us at $2,000 per provider, but after that the monthly subscription was only $300 per provider, including a practice management component and cloud-based hosting. SOAPware offers a comprehensive 10-minute demo video on its website. However, we did have a difficult time getting in touch with its customer service team at first. 
  2. e-MDs: Focused on practices with 1 to 5 providers, e-MDs offers a reasonably priced, easy-to-use product. We were quoted a price that totaled $600 a month per provider for a cloud-hosted integrated EHR and practice management system. Some physicians said vendor support was lacking, but our customer service experience with e-MDs was excellent. The vendor offers a dedicated trainer and weekly meetings with staff for 90 days after you "go-live" with the system, making the transition a little bit smoother.
  3. Amazing Charts: Designed by a doctor, Amazing Charts is intended to be easy to use and also falls within a manageable price range. After the initial $1,200 per provider licensing fee, Amazing Charts costs $1,195 per year. Including the additional $249 per month per provider practice management charge and a $39 per month per provider fee for cloud hosting. That comes out to about $400 per month per provider after the licensing fee. Amazing Charts also offers a 90-day free trial, so you can really get a feel for the software and decide if it's a good fit for your practice before you buy. 
  4. Practice Fusion: A big advantage of Practice Fusion is that it's entirely free. The company generates revenue through advertising and through the sale of unidentified patient data for research purposes. If you approve of the company using your patients' data for that purpose, you might consider Practice Fusion. Since it's free, it's easy to try out before deciding whether or not it's suitable to use when you're actually seeing patients. The dashboard is intuitive and comprehensive, and Practice Fusion offers an implementation specialist to assist you for the first 30 days of using the system.  

To determine our best picks for electronic health records (EHR) systems, we consulted three surveys of physicians found on Medical EconomicsMedscape and American EHR. We ended up with a list of 29 vendors that received consistent high marks in these surveys.

We then interviewed physicians about what they are looking for in an EHR system and used their input to determine what three factors to use to narrow down our pool. Those factors were: ease of use, vendor/customer support and how an EHR might impact the quality of care. Using this criteria, we narrowed our list down to 11 candidates to review further. Those candidates were: Epic, MEDENT, Practice Fusion, athenahealth, eClinical Works, Amazing Charts, e-MDs, SOAPware, AdvancedMD Inc., Modernizing Medicine and Care360.

We evaluated each of the 11 candidates on the following:

  • Quality of Care
  • Estimated Cost
  • Ease of Use
  • Vendor Support
  • Patient Portal
  • Interoperability
  • Implementation
  • Customer Service
  • Integration (with practice management, revenue cycle management, etc.)
  • Free Trial/Demo Experience
  • Qualitative Physician Responses

To gather information and assess the quality of each company's customer service, we called each company and identified ourselves as working for a small medical practice that would soon open. 

In order to estimate the cost of each system – which varies widely depending on what is included, what optional features are available, and the size of a practice – we consistently stated to sales representatives that we would opt for cloud hosting, integrated practice management, and our practice consisted of five providers. We based our price estimates on pricing we were given for those parameters.

To further conduct research, we conducted several interviews with physicians who have firsthand experience with the EHR systems on our final list. We considered their qualitative responses in our final recommendations, as well. 

Following our research, we selected several systems to recommend for small practices and specialists. Because we were unable to use the systems in a clinical setting (and because every physician's wants and needs are unique) we refrained from picking the "best" system and instead recommended those systems that scored positively in each of our criteria and also received favorable physician reviews.

Here is a comprehensive list of EHR vendors. This alphabetical list also includes the recommendations mentioned above. 

Acrendo Software, Inc.  Acrendo's EHR system is available in client-server or cloud-based options, is certified for Meaningful Use Stage II, and is ICD-10 ready. Acrendo also offers integrated practice management and revenue-cycle management software. Product demonstrations are available at Acrendo.com

Advanced Data Systems  MedicsDocAssistant is certified for Meaningful Use Stage II and is ICD-10 ready. The system includes options for integrated practice management, billing, and revenue cycle management. Live demonstrations are available through Adsc.com

AdvancedMD, Inc. – The AdvancedEHR is integrated with scheduling and billing software, and includes a cloud-based option. AdvancedMD also offers an iOS mobile application. It is Meaningful Use Stage II certified and ICD-10 ready. More information can be found at Advancedmd.com

Allscripts – Allscripts Professional EHR is designed for small and mid-sized practices and offers strong interoperability with labs and pharmacies, Meaningful Use Stage II certification, and ICD-10 preparedness. Request product demonstrations at Allscripts.com

Amazing Charts – Amazing Charts is designed by a doctor for usability and affordability. It is Meaningful Use Stage II certified, ICD-10 ready, and offers integrated practice management. Free trial and demonstration videos are available at Amazingcharts.com

athenahealth – athenahealth's cloud-based system offers integrated practice management and billing software and Meaningful Use Stage II certification, as well as ICD-10 preparedness.  Request a live demonstration or view a product demonstration video at athenahealth.com

Cerner – Cerner's EHR system is certified for Meaningful Use Stage II and ICD-10 ready. It offers integrated practice management and billing systems, and aims to maximize engagement between physicians and patients. More information is available at Cerner.com

CompuGroup Medical, Inc. – CompuGroup's EHR includes an integrated practice management system and is available in a web-based version. Video demonstrations are available at CGM.com

CPSI – The Thrive EHR is built for rural communities, hospitals, and practices. The system offers integrated practice management, billing, and financial management software. Find out more about Thrive at CPSI

eClinical Works – eClinical Works' 10e EHR includes electronic referrals, hospital interoperability, and data reporting on healthcare records. Other features and live demonstrations are available at eClinicalWorks.com

e-MDs – Both Meaningful Use Stage II certified and ICD-10 ready, e-MDs focuses on usability and capturing clinical and billing data. e-MDs also offers cloud-based hosting. Free trial available at e-MDs.com

Epic – EpicCare EHR offers an integrated practice management system, Meaningful Use Stage II certification, and ICD-10 preparedness. Epic touts its interoperability across the continuum of care as a hallmark of the system. More information available at Epic.com

General Electric – GE Centricity EHR is "an electronic medical record designed to interface with practice management systems in larger physician practices." Customizable to individual workflows, the system promises seamless interoperability, Meaningful Use Stage II certification, and is ICD-10 ready. Webinars and more information available at GEHealthcare.com

Greenway – Greenway Health's Prime Suite is ICD-10 ready and Meaningful Use Stage II certified. It offers an integrated EHR/practice management system that it calls usable and flexible. More information and video demonstrations are available at GreenwayHealth.com

Healthland – Healthland's Ambulatory EHR offers a Windows-based, customizable user interface. It includes referral management software, an integrated task manager, and e-prescribing. More information is available at Healthland.com

Kareo – Kareo is a free, cloud-based EHR that is Meaningful Use Stage II certified and ICD-10 ready. It offers secure messaging, an integrated patient portal, and a comprehensive dashboard. More information and video demonstrations are available at Kareo.com

LeonardoMD – A web-based EHR with an integrated billing and practice management system, LeonardoMD offers customizable workflows, tutorials, and one-on-one implementation consultants. Request a live demonstration at LeonardoMD.com

McKesson – McKesson's EHR hosts an integrated practice management system, is certified for Meaningful Use Stage II, and comes ICD-10 ready. Both client-server and cloud-based, McKesson aims to tailor their system to the size of the practice using it. Video demonstrations available at McKesson.com

MEDENT – MEDENT's EHR offers mobile access, billing and practice management software. It is Meaningful Use Stage II certified and ICD-10 ready and can be configured for client-server or cloud-hosting. Find out more at MEDENT.com

MEDHOST – The EDIS EHR system is designed to eliminate drop-down menus and unnecessary screens for simplicity and usability.  MEDHOST boasts strong interoperability with hospital systems, labs, and pharmacies. EDIS is able to operate through an iPad application. Schedule a demonstration at MEDHOST.com

Meditech – Meditech's EHR system focuses on the ability to share data and interoperability. It is Meaningful Use Stage II certified and ICD-10 ready. Meditech offers a web-based option and is mobile friendly. More information is available at Meditech.com

Modernizing Medicine – Built "from the ground up" by a doctor, Modernizing Medicine is an iPad native EHR tailored for the specific needs of various specialists. The EMA is certified for Meaningful Use Stage II and comes ICD-10 ready. Live demonstrations are available for scheduling at ModMed.com

NextGen – NextGen's Ambulatory EHR is focused on ease of use, integration with practice management and billing systems, and interoperability. It is certified for Meaningful Use Stage II and ICD-10 ready. Video demonstrations are available at NextGen.com

Practice Fusion – Practice Fusion is a free, cloud-based EHR that organizes every feature into one local dashboard. It operates across all devices, is Meaningful Use Stage II certified, and ICD-10 ready. Video demonstration and downloads are available at PracticeFusion.com

Quest Diagnostics – The Care360 EHR includes e-prescribing, secure messaging, and multi-system interoperability. It is certified for Meaningful Use Stage II and ICD-10 ready, as well as available on mobile platforms. Request a demonstration at QuestDiagnostics.com

Sevocity – At $359 after startup costs, Sevocity is an affordable EHR solution that promises a customized experience, specialty specific features, and a patient portal. Sevocity is Meaningful Use Stage II certified. Find out more information at Sevocity.com

SOAPware – SOAPware aims for usability and an intuitive interface. The system includes an integrated practice management and billing option, as well as cloud-hosting. It is Meaningful Use Stage II certified and ICD-10 ready. More information is available at SOAPware.com

VA-CPRS – The official EHR of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, VA-CPRS is available for demonstration download and trial at eHealth.VA.gov

WEBeDoctor, Inc. – WEBeDoctor's EHR prides itself on adaptability to individual workflows. It offers an integrated practice management and billing system, as well as connectivity between your devices through the cloud. It is Meaningful Use Stage II certified and ICD-10 ready. More information is available at WEBeDoctor.com

Are you a EHR vendor who would like to be added to this list and possibly considered for our next round of reviews? Please feel free to contact Adam C. Uzialko at auzialko@purch.com.

Editor's Note: Looking for an Electronic Health Records system for your medical practice? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free: 

buyerzone widget
Adam C. Uzialko
Adam C. Uzialko

Adam received his Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Journalism & Media Studies at Rutgers University. He worked for a local newspaper and freelanced for several publications after graduating college. He can be reached by email, or follow him on Twitter.