EMR-EHR Integration

Improve Healthcare with EHR / EMR Integration Services

Updated April 19  |  9 min read
Key Takeaways
  • What is EMR/EHR integration? EMR and EHR integration helps you improve your healthcare practices.
  • Epic EHR integration can help you keep track of surgical tools in the operating room.
  • Integrating EMR systems with Clarity Connect lets you create a feature-rich and HIPAA-compliant patient portal, offering easy access to clinical data.
  • To get the most out of your EMR-EHR integration, work with an experienced healthcare systems developer.

EHR/EMR Integration Automates Secure Health Processes

Integrating EHR (electronic health records) or EMR (electronic medical records) health systems with a HIPAA-compliant website opens up many possibilities for health providers and their patients.

EMR Integration Allows Patients to:

  • Schedule appointments
  • View lab results and relevant patient data
  • Get prescription information
  • Request prescription refills
  • Ask their care provider questions
  • Pay bills online
  • Be more immersed in their medical care

Successful EMR Integration Helps Health Systems with:

  • Better patient care and patient safety
  • Greater cost savings
  • Increased efficiency
  • Better coordination between medical service providers
  • Improved patient participation in their own care

Health systems that brave the technical challenges of electronic health information integration with digital health tools could fundamentally change their business or even the lives of their customers for the better. Read about one of our Epic integration options below.

Health system mobile app.

Keep Track of Medical Items with Epic EMR Integration

At Clarity, delivering HIPAA-compliant sites is a point of pride. One of our clients is using an Epic EHR integration to help keep track of medical instruments in the operating room, to ensure that surgical instruments (e.g., sponges and the like) are removed before closing the patient up.

Thousands of surgeries every year result in surgeons leaving items in patients, and billions of dollars are paid out in medical malpractice suits because of this. This is often due to human error, fatigue, poor communication between team members, and other factors. Retained surgical items in the patient’s body can lead to injury, long-term consequences, and possibly death.

That’s why an Epic EMR integration that will automate these vital processes and leave virtually no room for error is essential for better patient care. It’s no exaggeration to say that this EMR integration could save lives and helps the care industry save money. Our client was even awarded a patent on our solution, along with their FDA and UL certifications.

If you want to protect your patients and your healthcare practice, incorporating EMR integrations is crucial.

EMR API Integration with Clarity Connect

There are several different APIs (e.g., FHIR, Unity, etc.) that are used by the various EHR systems, and Clarity Connect™ was designed to integrate with them all.

Connect is a middleware integration solution, also referred to as an ETL, or a system that extracts, transforms, and loads data from one or more databases to a central database running HIPAA-compliant database software. It speaks the language of the EMR API and translates information to and from HL7-v2 (the most common messaging standard for exchanging medical information between disparate systems) for the various endpoints, as the electronic health information is being pushed into and pulled from the EMR system.

Clarity Connect stores the relevant healthcare clinical data until it receives confirmation that it has been successfully transferred to its endpoint, then clears its cache. This queuing function ensures that there is no data loss as communication ensues between patient-doctor portals and the electronic health records.

With Clarity EMR Integration, Medical Staff and Patients Can:

  • Log in to view and pay bills
  • View available appointment times to schedule an appointment
  • Access medical records, lab results, notes from a healthcare provider, and other electronic health information
  • Access a list of prescriptions and details, and request refills
  • Initiate a phone call or telehealth session with the doctor's office
  • Share patient information with a specialist when referred
  • Update and upload their own patient records
  • Download and print medical receipts for tax purposes
  • Meet the Medicare-Medicaid requirement for information sharing
  • Fulfill HIPAA standards
  • Improve patient satisfaction and patient safety
  • Get financial and operational guidance for a practice
Health systems stored electronic health information to improve patient care.

HIPAA-Compliant Security in Your EMR Integration

The purpose of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) compliance is to set out the guidelines for the healthcare industry that dictate your responsibility in protecting the healthcare data of your patients.

Protecting sensitive clinical data, often referred to as PHI (Patient Healthcare Information), is paramount to functional integration. There are many different levels of HIPAA, and as you add additional features and clinical data to your healthcare integration, the requirements to protect and handle data accuracty changes.

Clarity's been designing and building HIPAA-compliant portals for over 15 years. We can help health systems navigate those requirements to ensure you're taking all the required precautions to be HIPAA compliant.

Any electronic health information transfer that occurs between health systems through Clarity Connect is encrypted using SSL. All data at rest is encrypted in the database, and finally, if PHI is allowed to be edited, there’s an additional level of encrypted logging, recording which users changed what information and when.

HIPAA Development Experience

Clarity Ventures has an abundance of experience developing HIPAA-complaint websites for health systems, having successfully designed and launched more than 250 medical websites, portals and mobile apps.

If you are looking at an EHR or EMR integration, HIPAA compliance is likely required. Let Clarity help guide you through the process of planning a compliant portal and build the necessary safeguards into your integration project, so that you and your patients can rest assured that their information is safe.

A website that adheres to HIPAA compliance safely keeping electronic health information.

Challenges of EMR Integration

EHRs have revolutionized healthcare systems by providing health systems with a more efficient and streamlined way to manage patient information. However, the integration of EHR/EMR systems with existing systems and workflows can be a complex and challenging process.

Technical Challenges

Data Integration: One of the biggest technical infrastructure challenges in EMR integration for health systems is data integration. Healthcare providers often have multiple systems and databases that contain healthcare data, and integrating these disparate systems can be a daunting task. The lack of data standards and inconsistent data formats can further complicate the EMR integration process.

  • Establish clear data mapping and conversion processes
  • Invest in tools and technologies that can facilitate the functional integration of data
  • Develop a comprehensive data governance strategy to ensure data accuracy and consistency

Interoperability: Interoperability solutions refers to the ability of different health systems to exchange and use data, like patient treatment records, seamlessly. Lack of interoperability, such as HL7 and FHIR interoperability, can lead to information silos and fragmented patient care.

  • Choose EHR systems that support industry-standard data exchange protocols for health systems
  • Ensure that systems can communicate with other health IT systems, such as lab systems and imaging systems
  • Advocate for the development and adoption of national data standards for healthcare information exchange

Security and Privacy: EHRs contain sensitive and confidential patient information, making security and privacy a critical concern in EHR/EMR integration. Health systems must ensure that patient data is protected from unauthorized access and breaches.

  • Implement strong access controls and authentication measures to protect a patient's electronic medical record
  • Develop a comprehensive security and privacy policy that outlines guidelines for data access and sharing
  • Regularly monitor and audit health systems for security vulnerabilities and address them promptly

User Adoption and Training: The success of the integration ultimately depends on the users—the healthcare facilities and staff who will be using the system on a daily basis. User adoption and training throughout health systems are critical to ensuring that EHRs are used effectively and efficiently.

  • Develop a comprehensive user training program that includes training on EHR functionality, workflows, and data entry standards
  • Health systems should provide ongoing support and training to address user questions and concerns
  • Encourage user feedback and make adjustments to the system as needed based on user input

Organizational Challenges

Cultural Change: Integrating EHRs into health organizations can require significant cultural changes. Staff members may be resistant to change or may not understand the benefits of integration.

  • Develop a clear communication plan to explain the benefits of integration to staff members
  • Involve health systems staff members in the integration process and encourage feedback and suggestions
  • Provide incentives to staff members who embrace the new EHR system and use it effectively

Workflow Changes: EMR integration can also require significant workflow changes in health systems. Staff members may need to adjust the way they work to accommodate the new system.

  • Identify areas where integration will impact workflows and develop a plan to address these changes
  • Involve staff members in workflow planning to ensure that changes are realistic and achievable
  • Continuously monitor and evaluate workflows to identify areas for improvement

Cost and ROI: EHR/EMR integration can be a significant financial investment, and healthcare professionals and organizations must ensure that they will see a return on their investment.

  • Develop a clear understanding of the costs associated with integration, including healthcare data management software, hardware, training, and ongoing support
  • Identify potential cost savings associated with integration, such as reduced paperwork and improved patient outcomes
  • Develop a plan to measure ROI and continuously monitor the impact of data integration on the organization

Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Healthcare organizations must comply with a variety of legal and regulatory requirements related to EHR incorporation, including HIPAA and HITECH.

  • Develop a comprehensive understanding of legal and regulatory requirements related to EMR integration
  • Ensure that EHR systems are compliant with all healthcare data and guidelines
  • Develop policies and procedures to ensure ongoing compliance with legal and regulatory requirements
The technical infrastructure of EMR systems can lead to technical challenges.

Best Practices for Successful EMR Integration

Establish Clear Goals and Objectives: Great EMR integration begins with a clear understanding of the organization's goals and objectives.

  • Identify the specific goals and objectives of integration, such as improving patient outcomes or reducing administrative burden
  • Develop a clear plan for achieving these goals and objectives, including timelines, milestones, and success metrics
  • Continuously evaluate progress toward goals and adjust the plan as needed

Plan for Workflow Changes: Effective implementation requires careful planning for workflow changes.

  • Involve staff members in workflow planning and design to ensure that changes are realistic and achievable
  • Develop a plan for training staff members on new workflows and processes
  • Continuously monitor and evaluate workflows to identify areas for improvement

Ensure User Adoption and Training: Functional integration depends on user adoption and training.

  • Develop a comprehensive user training program that includes training on EHR functionality, workflows, and data entry standards
  • Provide ongoing support and training to address user questions and concerns
  • Encourage user feedback and make adjustments to the system as needed based on user input

Address Security and Privacy Concerns: Security and privacy are critical concerns of integration.

  • Implement strong access controls and authentication measures to protect patient data
  • Develop a comprehensive security and privacy policy that outlines guidelines for data access and sharing
  • Regularly monitor and audit EHR systems for security vulnerabilities and address them promptly

Partner with Vendors and Other Stakeholders: Integration is a complex process that requires collaboration with vendors and other stakeholders.

  • Work closely with EHR vendors to ensure that systems are interoperable and meet the organization's needs
  • Engage with other stakeholders, such as government agencies and industry organizations, to stay up to date on best practices and regulatory requirements
  • Collaborate with other healthcare providers to share knowledge and experience related to EHR/EMR integration

Integrating a patient's medical history into healthcare organizations can be a complex and challenging process. However, with careful planning and implementation of best practices, organizations can overcome these challenges and achieve successful EMR integration.

By addressing technical and organizational barriers, establishing clear goals and objectives, and collaborating with stakeholders, healthcare organizations can leverage the power of EHRs to improve patient outcomes and streamline workflows.

Electronic health information can improve a health systems data analytics after EMR integration.

Get Your Health Systems in Order With Clarity

EMR/EHR integration isn't something you want to jump into haphazardly. You'll want to find an integration partner that has extensive experience working with both integrations and the healthcare industry.

Few software businesses have the background and digital health tools to do both. Are you using Epic systems? We'll do an Epic HIPAA audit. We can do the same for Cerner, NexGen, eClinicalWorks, or any other EMR/EHR system you might have...even if it's custom.

Clarity is ready to talk with you about your integration project. We'll help you integrate your EHR with any other software you have, even if it's proprietary. Get in touch with us today to get the process started.

Healthcare system development can improve patient outcomes after EMR integration of patient health records.

FAQ

 

EMR stands for Electronic Medical Records. EMR systems contain electronic versions of a patient’s complete medical history, including treatments, medications, and test results for functional integration. These records are stored in a secure digital format, allowing healthcare organizations to access them quickly and securely from any location.

EMR integrations make it easier to share relevant patient data between different healthcare providers, streamline processes such as billing and appointment scheduling, and reduce manual data entry and the potential errors that come with it.

Electronic medical record integrations are also used by healthcare providers in a clinical trial management system to study anonymized data, creating an excellent means of clinical trial management.

 

What is EMR integration? EMR integration offers many benefits, including improved patient care, enhanced clinical workflow, better communication between providers and patients, and reduced administrative costs. By integrating different parts of the healthcare system, clinicians have access to all relevant patient data in one place.

This improves communication among medical practitioners and supports better decision-making. Integrating software also allows for more effective tracking of patients’ health over time and provides real-time access to data when it is needed most, improving healthcare delivery and patient satisfaction.

 

The main difference between EMR (electronic medical records) and EHR (electronic health records) is that an EMR focuses only on patient care delivered in a single practice setting, while an EHR includes the storage of patient data from multiple practices or care settings.

An EMR typically includes data such as patient demographics, medical history, progress notes, lab tests, medications, immunization records, allergies, and more. On the other hand, an EHR stores information from different sources allowing for better continuity of care as well as access to critical records across multiple providers.

 

Healthcare providers should invest in EMR integration for several compelling reasons. First, EMRs streamline patient care by consolidating medical information in a digital format, reducing paperwork, minimizing errors, and enhancing overall efficiency. Integration enables seamless communication among healthcare professionals, fostering collaborative and coordinated care.

EMRs also contribute to improved clinical decision-making through easy access to comprehensive patient data. Investing in integration also aligns with regulatory requirements, ensuring compliance with standards like HIPAA. And the adoption of EMRs enhances patient engagement by providing secure access to their own health information.

Overall, EMR integration not only enhances the quality of healthcare delivery but also positions providers to leverage data for research, analytics, and improved population health management for healthcare providers.

 

Protecting patient data is crucial for healthcare providers due to various reasons. Firstly, safeguarding patient records, such as medical history and personal details, ensures patient privacy and builds trust in healthcare systems. Breaches can lead to identity theft, fraud, or unauthorized access to confidential health records, compromising patient well-being.

Also, legal and ethical obligations, like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the United States, mandate strict data protection to avoid penalties and maintain compliance. Securing patient data also safeguards healthcare providers' reputations, as breaches can result in significant financial and reputational damage.

Ultimately, prioritizing data security not only protects individual patients but also upholds the integrity of the entire healthcare industry, fostering a safer and more reliable environment for medical care and information exchange.

 

EMR integration poses several challenges for healthcare providers. Interoperability issues between different EMR systems can hinder seamless data exchange between healthcare facilities, leading to fragmented patient data. Standardizing data formats and protocols is essential to address this challenge.

Second, the cost and resources required for EMR integration and ensuring their compatibility with existing technology infrastructure can be substantial. This financial investment can be a barrier, especially for smaller healthcare practices. Also, training staff to use the new EMR system effectively is time-consuming and may lead to temporary disruptions in workflow of the healthcare provider

Concerns about data security and privacy are paramount, as EMRs contain sensitive patient records. Ensuring compliance with regulatory standards, such as HIPAA, is essential. Also, patients may not want to change to such a system, which is why patient engagement tools are so important.

Last, resistance to change from healthcare providers accustomed to traditional paper-based records can be a significant hurdle during EMR integration. Overcoming these challenges requires careful planning, robust technical solutions, and comprehensive training programs.

 

Yes, there are privacy concerns associated with EHR-EMR integration. Combining EHRs (electronic health record) from various sources raises potential risks of unauthorized data access, breaches, and loss of patient confidentiality. Patient information, including medical history, treatments, and personal identifiers, becomes more susceptible to cyberattacks or unintentional exposure if EHR-EMR integration isn't handled properly.

Healthcare organizations must rigorously implement security measures, encryption, access controls, and comply with regulations like HIPAA to safeguard patient data during EHR-EMR integration processes. Balancing the benefits of improved care coordination with robust privacy protection is crucial to ensure that EHR-EMR integration maximizes healthcare efficiency while maintaining the highest standards of data privacy and security.

 

EMR integration (Electronic Medical Record integration) can be challenging due to various factors. Interoperability issues between different systems, diverse data formats, and stringent privacy regulations with healthcare data contribute to the complexity. EMR solutions often vary in structure and functionality, making seamless integration a daunting task. Healthcare organizations must navigate technical hurdles, such as data mapping, standardization, and ensuring secure data transmission.

EMR integration requires collaboration among healthcare providers, IT teams, and software vendors, adding a layer of coordination challenges. Despite these difficulties, successful integration is crucial for streamlined healthcare workflows, improved patient care, and enhanced data-driven decision-making. Dedication to standards, effective communication, and robust technical solutions are essential for overcoming the difficulties associated with EMR integration.

 

Healthcare providers must handle electronic medical records (EMRs) with utmost care and adhere to stringent privacy and security standards. This is crucial to safeguard patients' sensitive information and comply with legal regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the United States. It's also vital when incorporating financial information into billing systems.

Providers must implement robust security measures, including encryption, access controls, and regular audits, to prevent unauthorized access or data breaches to every electronic medical record. They must also ensure that only authorized personnel have access to EMRs and that they receive proper training on handling this information securely.

Healthcare providers must also have contingency plans in case of emergencies or system failures to ensure the availability and integrity of EMRs. Failing to handle EMRs carefully can lead to severe consequences, including legal penalties and damage to patients' trust. Maintaining the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of a paitent's medical history and electronic medical records is of paramount importance in the healthcare industry.

 

Healthcare providers transfer patient medical records through secure electronic systems or encrypted channels. These include Electronic Health Record (EHR) platforms, Health Information Exchanges (HIEs), EMR systems, and secure email.

Providers may also use established protocols like HL7 or FHIR for standardized data exchange. In some cases, fax machines with encryption may be employed. Strict adherence to privacy regulations like HIPAA ensures comprehensive patient data security. Access controls, authentication measures, and audit trails further safeguard the records. When necessary, physical records are hand-delivered or sent via certified mail with tracking.

Medical providers often link these different systems with the ERP or CRM; EHR or EMR integrations are a good example of this.

 

EHR-EMR integration facilitates the exchange of various types of patient data, including:

  • Demographics: An EHR-EMR system can keep information such as patient names, addresses, contact information
  • Medical History: EHR-EMR systems will help with diagnoses, treatments, surgeries, allergies, immunizations
  • Medications: EHR-EMR integrations can deal with current prescriptions, dosage, frequency
  • Lab Results: EHR-EMR systems can transfer information such as blood tests, imaging reports, pathology results
  • Billing and Insurance Information: The EHR-EMR system can keep and transfer information such as insurance details, billing codes, claims data

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Author
 
Stephen Beer is a Content Writer at Clarity Ventures and has written about various tech industries for nearly a decade. He is determined to demystify HIPAA, integration, and eCommerce with easy-to-read, easy-to-understand articles to help businesses make the best decisions.