How to build an EHR system: essentials you need to know

hospital-ehr-system-tablet

Are you thinking about building an electronic health record (EHR) system for your organization?

If so, you’re not alone. EHR systems are an essential tool for storing and managing patient medical information, and can greatly improve patient care and streamline your organization’s workflow.

However, building an EHR system can seem daunting, with so many factors to consider and technical challenges to overcome. But don’t worry! In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the essentials you need to know to build an EHR system.

Do All Healthcare Organizations Rely On EHR Systems?

According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, as of 2021, about 80% of office-based physicians in the United States were using some form of an EHR system.

However, adoption rates may vary by country and by type of healthcare organization. Some smaller practices or rural clinics may still rely on paper records or may not have the resources to implement an EHR software system.

Additionally, some healthcare organizations may choose to use other types of electronic health systems, such as electronic medical record (EMR) systems, which are similar to EHR systems but may have a more limited scope.

ehr-system-adoption-graph
Office-based Physician Electronic Health Record Adoption

EHR software implementation

Implementing an EHR software system is the most modern approach that allows doctors to avoid unnecessary paperwork and spend more time with their patients.

Optimization and simplification will create a single automated database that can be accessed by all interested parties in a convenient format.

Moreover, at 9.3% CAGR, Global Electronic Health Records (EHR) market size is about to hit USD 52.98 Billion by 2027. Meaning this healthcare solution is gaining a lot of traction.

Is An EHR System A Game Changer For The Healthcare Industry?

May an EHR software system really transform a patient care system? What is it, actually?

To put it simply, an electronic health record system is a digital paper and pencil that can easily be shared among doctors, patients, insurance companies, and other healthcare providers.

EHR system is like an upgraded patient portal that simplifies work for a healthcare facility responsible for that or another patient. It improves the whole process of medical care services, especially in urgent cases.

Remember all these times when patients and/or doctors had to go through piles of papers looking for proper information? 

When now, they can just search it on such electronic health record solutions within minutes.

What Are The Different Types Of EHR?

There are several types of electronic health record software based on hosting:

On-premises EHR software

This software is installed on a local computer or network and is accessed by users within the organization.

Cloud-based EHR software

This software is hosted on a remote server and accessed via the internet. Users can access the software from any device with an internet connection.

Hybrid EHR software

This software combines elements of on-premises and cloud-based EHR software, and may be customized to meet the specific needs of an organization.

Which type of EHR software is best for your organization will depend on your specific needs and resources.

On-premises EHR software may be a good choice for organizations with a large IT department and the resources to maintain the software, while cloud-based EHR software may be a good choice for smaller organizations or those without dedicated IT staff.

Hybrid EHR software can provide a combination of the two approaches and may be a good fit for organizations that want the flexibility to choose which aspects of the software are hosted on-premises and which are hosted in the cloud.

EMR vs EHR

In short, the main difference between EMRs and EHRs is the scope and intended use of the record.

EMRs are typically used within a single organization, while EHRs are designed to be shared among multiple organizations and include a wider range of data.

EHR and EMR may seem rather similar. However, when speaking about the main difference between EHR and EMR, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it should be mentioned that the core function of an EMR is storing information.

At the same time, an EHR is more about integration and access to the storage using interoperability standards (such as HL7 FHIR).

This difference is crucial when it comes to the question of “how to create an EHR system,” as it should have the needed features to share those files throughout all related institutions.

The Process Of Building An EHR System

The key question of this article is to discover how to build an EHR system. Let’s go step by step.

Idea Validation and Discovery Process

If you’re starting a new software development project and only have an idea, it’s a great choice to conduct a product discovery.

This process involves bringing together key stakeholders, such as the engineering architect, lead UI/UX designer, and business analyst, to research the market and develop a plan for the project that is divided into key milestones.

If you are looking for upgrading your current system then the best approach would be to perform a tech audit. By reviewing the current technology and infrastructure, you can identify areas that need improvement and develop a plan for making those upgrades.

It’s important to involve engineers in this process, as they will be responsible for implementing the changes. It’s also helpful to have a business analyst involved, as they can help ensure that the upgrades align with the overall goals and objectives of the organization.

At the end of the discovery process, you should have a clear understanding of the scope and objectives of your electronic health record (EHR) system.

You should also have completed a needs assessment, in which you gathered input from all stakeholders to determine the specific needs and requirements of the EHR system.

UI/UX Design

Using all the discovery phase outcomes the design team can start the long but highly important process of UI/UX Design.

In the design step of building an electronic health record (EHR) system, the focus is on creating a detailed system design. This typically includes:

  • User interface design: This involves creating a design for the interface that users will interact with, including the layout, navigation, and overall look and feel of the system.
  • Data model design: This involves defining the structure and organization of the data that will be stored in the EHR system, including the types of data that will be collected, how it will be stored, and how it will be accessed.
  • System architecture design: This involves defining the overall architecture of the EHR system, including the hardware and software components that will be used, and how they will be integrated and configured to work together.

☝️A well-designed system is easier to implement and test and is more likely to meet user needs.

Software Development

The crucial stage in the development process is the actual development stage of a product.

Engineers take it forward as soon as the designers’ work is done and approved.

The initial concept of a product is turned into a full-fledged and top-notch solution with all the necessary features and functions.

As the prior research and analysis are conducted, the choice of technologies is complete. Software development company makes it happen to implement not only the chosen tech stack but also other important technologies such as IoT, AI, fintech or blockchain, etc.

If needed, a mobile version is developed as well.

Testing

The testing stage is inevitable and consequential.

Quality assurance engineers check all the functionality, security matters, responsiveness, appearance, etc.

Their main goal is to define if the product is bug-free and won’t crash at any moment. Moreover, they test system compliance.

There are several types of testing that are typically conducted during the development of an EHR system, including:

  • Unit testing: This involves testing individual components or modules of the EHR system to ensure that they are working as intended.
  • Integration testing: This involves testing how different components of the EHR system work together, to ensure that they are integrated correctly and function as a cohesive whole.
  • Acceptance testing: This involves testing the EHR system from the perspective of the end user, to ensure that it is user-friendly and meets their needs.
  • Performance testing: This involves testing the EHR system to ensure that it can handle the expected workload and performance requirements.
  • Security testing: This involves testing the EHR system to ensure that it is secure and compliant with relevant regulations and standards.

Launch & Maintenance

When the QA phase is carried out, and the product is proven not to have any bugs and is compliant with all the standards, the rollout of the EHR system comes next.

Start implementing the EHR system across the organization and phase out the use of paper records.

Keep in mind that your product will need updates and maintenance throughout its operation. So make sure your software partner is able to provide you with such services.

EHR Software Application Features

When building an EHR system, each development company takes into consideration the primary needs and goals of that or another medical institution.

Nevertheless, there are a few features that most EHR software contains. Let’s have a closer look at them.

Patient portal

One of the most useful functionally of the EHR would be the patient portal or the dashboard.

It provides the access to medical records, patients’ info (like name, age, location, etc.), prescribed medication, test results, insurance, etc.

Here you can easily access some basic information about the patient, such as name, address, and contact information.

As well as the medical history: it includes a record of the patient’s past medical treatments, diagnoses, and procedures.

ehr system development design

Access control

Managing permissions is another important feature to include. An EHR system should have multiple data access control mechanisms in-built. It allows only authorized professionals to get access to confidential or sensitive patient data.

For example, nurses and laboratory assistants should not have access to the same data as doctors unless they have the doctor’s permission. 

Or doctors may get access to insurance documents only when it is relevant to their expertise or the patient’s case. This feature is an essential privacy rule.

Integration with the laboratory

Lab integration feature for EHR system facilitates data sharing among doctors, patients, and labs.

As a result, laboratories that conduct tests will know exactly which of them to perform, patients will be timely informed about pre-test preparation, and doctors will receive the correct results without any delays.

E-Prescribing

Instead of paper, medical professionals can easily use e-prescription tools for creating and transmitting electronic prescriptions to pharmacies.

What’s more, they will be able to check and keep an eye on patients’ medical records online to ensure there are no drug incompatibilities that could cause any issues. 

e-prescribing

Billing and invoices

When we speak about private or paid procedures, any healthcare organization has to deal with invoices, billing, denials, claims, etc. With the help of the billing feature in such a telemedicine platform, all these processes are automated, which significantly simplifies work for finance departments.

Even more, many of these EHR systems also have payment functions that patients can use to pay directly for the service they use. Considering the fact that 51% of patients still receive their medical expense bills, it is quite an ease.

Document Management

Another essential feature of EHR software is document management procedures.
Electronic health record systems make document management much easier. The formats that are available include pictures, text, video, and DICOM (for CT or MRT images, e.g.).

These features are just the main ones we have decided to share. However, EHR software systems can also be advanced with face and/or speech recognition, as well as other smart solutions. It is just up to you to decide what features are needed for your custom-made EHR system.

Benefits of EHR System Development

It’s hard to imagine how many benefits the EHR system development may bring.

Not to arouse your curiosity about them, we are going to share the most important benefits of it. 

  • Customized to fit specific needs
  • Improved efficiency
  • Better interoperability
  • Enhanced security
  • Better user experience
  • Scalability
  • More effective medical services
  • Higher ROI and profits for medical facilities

As you can see, there are multiple benefits of implementing EHR system software.

You will be able to provide efficient and quality services that your patients are satisfied with. All the processes are automated and allow quick reactions, leading to more customers and higher revenue as a result.

HIPAA Compliant EHR

While focusing on how to create an electronic medical record system, many people still need to remember the importance of complying with HIPAA standards. One may ask, “What does it stand for?”.

HIPAA is Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and it is an obligatory standard to comply with within the USA. When it is HIPAA compliant, it guarantees insurance maintenance and consequent coverage.

What does it have to do with healthcare software? There is a paragraph that conveys all the aspects of EHR software development. Moreover, according to it, patient health information is in the first place and should be protected.

To create HIPAA compliant EHR system, it is important to predict the following:

  • Privacy and security regulations;
  • Businesses and vendors management;
  • Proper document administration;
  • Relevant employee training;
  • Preliminary planning of emergencies and incidents.

Any digital data may become a target for hackers or fraudsters. That is why it is vital to follow HIPAA standards when creating an EHR system.

The Cost of EHR Software Development

When speaking about the cost of an EHR system, it is important to clarify that it comprises the software development cost and operational expenses for maintaining the system.

Prices of development may significantly vary from one e-health records system to another. It depends on the development team, set of features, complexity, functionality, technology stack, etc.

If you are starting a new software development project from scratch, it’s a good idea to begin with a discovery phase.

This process involves bringing together a team of experts, including UI/UX designers, project managers, engineers, front-end developers, back-end development specialists, QA engineers, testers, and DevOps professionals, to research your specific needs and develop an action plan and budget for the project.

The average price for a discovery phase service is around $5000, and we offer it as a complimentary service if you choose to continue development with us.

With extensive research, the software vendor is able to provide a general estimate of the cost of developing a custom electronic health record (EHR) system.

You will see that the investment will vary significantly depending on factors such as the complexity of the system, the size of the organization, the number of users, the level of integration with other systems, and the level of customization.

That being said, it is not uncommon for the development of a custom EHR system to cost hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. It is important for organizations to carefully consider and get a technical consultation before kicking the dev process.

 

discovery-process-prices

Wrap up

In conclusion, implementing the electronic healthcare records software provide your with the boost to your business development and will keep you on top of the game for years to come.

By improving document management, security, and communication, it can make the entire process of delivering and receiving healthcare more efficient and effective. 

If you are looking for a software partner to help implement EHR in your organization, our team has the expertise and experience to provide you with a top-notch, cutting-edge system.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us and see how we can help bring positive change to your medical organization.

Ollie Maitland
Ollie Maitland
Co-Founder & CPO at Capitalise
Read More
We’ve worked with Ralabs to add an additional team alongside our core engineering and products teams. They have worked closely with us becoming fully integrated with us and delivering an excellent standard of architecture and engineering expertise.

Q&A: EHR systems

We know you’re here to find answers. We’ve got you covered.

The software of electronic health records is a digitalized system containing detailed data about patients’ health.

These documents are shared among all institutions and facilities related to healthcare.

Such data includes medical history, test results, insurance information, vaccination history, allergies, medications prescribed, lab data, etc.

The EHR software differs from EMR because it can be shared among multiple healthcare organizations and patients.

EMR is mostly for storing information, so it is rather limited in functionality. You can say that EMR is a subset of an EHR, and an EHR is a more complete and comprehensive record of a patient’s healthcare.

The length of time it takes to create EHR software from scratch can vary greatly depending on a number of factors such as the complexity of the software, the resources available, and the development process being used.

The scope and action plan can be developed during the discovery phase.

The overall cost required for building the whole EHR system depends on the team of developers involved, technologies, features, complexity, etc.

The safest way to compose a budget is to work closely with a business analyst, an architect and UI/UX designer. They will help to define the scope and budget.

EHR software development is a complex process.

There are many different technology stacks that can be used for building an EHR (Electronic Health Record) system, and the specific stack will depend on the requirements and constraints of the project.

Some common technologies that may be used in the development of an EHR system include:

  • Programming languages: Java, Python, PHP, Swift, Kotlin, JavaScript
    Databases: MySQL, PostgreSQL
  • Analytics: Google Analytics, Optimizely, Amazon EMR
  • Frameworks and libraries: Django, Node.js, Bootstrap, Angular, jQuery
  • Utilities: Microsoft Azure, Amazon S3, Cloudflare
  • Web server: Apache HTTP Server, Nginx
  • Payment gateway: Stripe, Braintree, PayPal

Ultimately, the choice of technology stack will depend on a number of factors such as the needs of the system, the expertise of the development team, and the preferences of the stakeholders.

It is generally possible to integrate third-party software with an EHR (Electronic Health Record) system, provided that the third-party software has an API (Application Programming Interface) or other means of communication with the EHR system.

Yes, there are different types of EHR (Electronic Health Record) systems available. The specific type of EHR system will depend on a number of factors, such as the size and needs of the healthcare organization, the type of patients being treated, and the requirements of the system.

Here are a few common types of EHR systems: Standalone EHR systems, Integrated EHR systems, Ambulatory EHR systems, Inpatient EHR systems, Hybrid EHR systems.

EHR software development is proven to be successful when you manage to meet all the needed pre-conditions. Among the vital signs of its success is compliance. Remember that EHR has to comply with HIPAA standards as well as other security ones.

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