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Best EMR (Electronic Medical Record) software of 2021

An image of a doctor showing a patient a medical record
(Image credit: Pixabay)

The best Electronic Medical Record (EMR) software makes it easier to manage patient records. It does this by having a single secure place from which to access a patient's records and medical history, including charts and existing prescriptions, as well as lab results.

Additionally, more and more EMR software also provides a direct self-service portal for patients to access important information, such as the results of a recent blood test, without having to ring the practice to find out. A patient portal can also be used to send required prescriptions direct to a pharmacy. Some will also have a telemedicine software feature for distance contacts.

Sometimes both the terms EMR and EHR (Electronic Health Record) software are used interchangeably, but some vendors specify that EMR software is aimed at a single practice, while EHR is more for multiple practices and offices. Otherwise, in many ways they are very similar and cover broadly the same functions.

The best EMR software will also integrate with existing medical practice management software being used, making administration and management of patient records work seamlessly with overall patient administration. It will also have medical billing software features built in, to ensure prompt payment for treatment from the patient or their insurance company.

Here we'll feature the best EMR software currently on the market.

(Image credit: AMS)

1. AMS Ultra Charts

Integrated EMR that simply gets the job done

Reasons to buy
+Easy to use+Good support+Seamless integration

Ultra Charts from American Medical Software is an EMR solution that manages patient records, appointments, prescriptions, billing, and a patient portal. It's fully integrated and certified, and is available either via the cloud or downloadable on-premises software.

Where AMS Ultra Charts really comes into its own is two areas: ease of use, and support. It does exactly what it needs to, with EMR records seamlessly integrated into a billing and management system that works easily with insurance companies. There are also customized templates available to work across the health sector. 

While inevitably there is some learning curve in using new software, AMS are known for having a strong support ethic and will usually go out of their way to walk users through the system.

Overall, AMS Ultra Charts is focused on just being easy to use while getting the job done, and if any problems come up in doing so it's usually easy to get the support you need.


(Image credit: Epic)

2. Epic EMR

Comprehensive EMR for hospitals

Reasons to buy
+Comprehensive workflows+Works across specilist teams
Reasons to avoid
-Learning curve to optimize

Epic EMR is a robust piece of software aimed at hospitals where different specialist teams will need to have easy access to patient records. There are various screens and workflows for patient care, which extend into specialty and ancillary care. There are also billing and health insurance management options, and Epic EMR also comes with the ability to work across multiple health providers, especially community health settings.

It's a very comprehensive solution that works with a lot of data, which is both a pro and a con. By trying to do so much, users can run into problems if the platform hasn't been properly configured and customized. This is especially the case where workflows needs to be shared between teams. It can also store so many data points that sometimes it can be difficult to find exactly what what is needed. 

All in all, Epic EMR is a solid piece of software that does what it needs to in various specialist ways, offering a wide range of options, while running from the cloud with mobile-friendly interfaces. The key to getting the most out of the software is ensuring that workflows and templates are optimized for the practice it needs to run in, which may require something of a learning curve. Once completed, working with it should be easy, painless, and rewarding.


(Image credit: inSync EMR)

3. inSync EMR

Heavy-duty product with a steep learning curve

Reasons to buy
+Comprensive approach+Many customizations
Reasons to avoid
-Steep learning curve

inSync EMR is a cloud-based platform that aims to cover all the usual bases you'd expect with EMR software, while also providing support for general practice and billing management, as well as a patient portal. 

Where inSync come into their own is their approach to working toward multiple health sectors, providing templates and workflow intended to be optimized for them. Even still, there are customization and configuration options available to ensure it's working to its full potential.

This flexibility comes at a price, however, in that implementation may require something of a steep learning curve. Support from inSync has two tiers, which doesn't help matters, with the first being connected to sales and development to ensure initial deployment, but then overseas call centers for continued customer support which may not be so easy to work with. However, once everything has been set up and customized as required, the system should be smooth, reliable, and easy to work with.

Overall, a solid and heavy-duty approach that aims to appeal to the widest range of health sectors, while delivering on both core and customized options to work with each of them. The main hurdle may be deployment and support training, but if you can properly plan for that before going live the experience should be relatively painless.


(Image credit: WebPT EMR)

4. WebPT EMR

A capable and dependable EMR for small practices

Reasons to buy
+Good usability+Very accessible+Additional time-saver features

The WebPT EMR software offers a general cloud platform that's easy to use and can be used on the go and not just from the office. It's HIPAA compliant for security and aims to make medicare compliance as simple as possible, not least through the use of an 8-minute rule that allows billing and forms to be amended. 

Unlike other EMR's, WebPT's offering is "designed by therapists for therapists" so it has a more focused set of templates and workflows to work specifically within this specialty. That means intuitive SOAP notes, referral tracking, and custom evaluation profiles, as well as outcome measurement tools and scoring for evidence-based tests.

On top of reports and analytics, WebPT EMR also includes appointment reminders and  document scanning, which are nice little time-savers.

As may be expected with a cloud platform, this software is easy to use and navigate and accessibility is good. It's not difficult to use and has far less of a learning curve than most other platforms, making it easy to train-up other staff members to use it.


(Image credit: athenahealth )

5. athenahealth

An all-in-one medical software solution

Reasons to buy
+Cloud hosted+Supports voice recognition+Patient appointment scheduling
Reasons to avoid
-Opaque pricing-No mobile platform support-No free trial

athenahealth was started back in 1997. At the center of their services is a cloud-based electronic medical record service, known as athenaClinicals. There is also an emphasis on networking for both exchange of patient information, and benchmarking of outcomes.

There is also support for a patient portal, as well as scheduling of patient appointments. Through this portal, patients can schedule their appointments, get access to practice forms, and pay their co-pays online. This then integrates with the automated messaging tool, that then sends out automated reminders to patients for their appointments, and bills. 

Alerts are also messaged for test results that the patient can access in the patient portal. This level of automation is ideal for reducing staff time, and appeals to younger patients that are more likely to engage via this type of experience.

Athenahealth offers a robust platform with many useful features. It focuses more on the physician practice market than on larger institutions, with useful features for e-prescribing with PDMP, clinic note writing and accounting. On balance, athenahealth offers a comprehensive solution to both the clinical, and the business side of a physician practice.


More EMR software options

The boundary between EMR and EHR (Electronic Health Record) software has become increasingly blurred, with the terms becoming effectively interchangeable. While we've featured companies and services that are primarily branded around EMR, here we'll list other companies to consider that normally promote themselves as EHR solutions, not least because they will cover a lot of the same services:

Advanced MD is a suite of cloud-based software services for medical practises, covering practice management, EHR, patient engagement, and medical billing. Everything runs through a central dashboard, so there's easy availability of reporting and analytics. Additional features include personal telemedicine, appointment reminders, ePrescribing and EPCS, as well as patient surveys to help build up your clinic's reputation.

Kareo is targeted toward smaller practices, which means that although it still offers a wide range of features, you don't end up paying for advanced and complex ones you will never use or need. Deployment is easy as it's a cloud-based service optimized for mobile devices, and the software offers appointments and record, billing and sales, as well as built-in analytics. It's also one of the cheapest options on the market.

CareCloud Charts is built to be simple and easy to use, no matter the size of the practice. It comes with all the standard features you'd expect in a EMR/EHR platform, but the software is also flexible, allowing you to customize a number of options and features for improved ease of use and efficiency. Pricing is based on the level of support required rather than a flat fee, which can make it especially attractive to experienced professionals.

Open EMR is an alternative EMR platform and the most popular open source EMR out there. ONC certified, Open EMR contains a raft of features you'd expect with a EMR/EHR solution, but also comes with lab integration, clinical decision rules, and multilingual support for 30 different languages. Being open source it's free to download and use, and like most similar projects there's a dedicated support community.