Since 2009, when the HITECH Act was legislated, more providers have been adding EMRs to their toolbox. As a result, more than 95% of hospitals across the U.S. now use this certified technology.

And while EMRs have led to improvements in many aspects of patient care, there are still gaps in the patient journey. Care teams are often overwhelmed with patient engagement goals and disparate tools that don’t always fill all the voids in patient-centered care. As such, coordinated care and patient retention is still a challenge for many providers.

Even for tech-forward providers, patient relationships are still difficult to maintain. To fully understand the challenges we need to examine EMRs, EHRs, and patient relationship management tools.

What Are EMRs?

EMRs are absolutely necessary for health care systems in the 21st century. Electronic health records ensure medical groups get paid and stay profitable.

As a result, these tech systems are used primarily to record large billable events. They capture medical interventions between patients and care teams. This data is turned into different billing codes. Payers are then held accountable to remit payments. The goal is to ensure every single service is accounted for so health systems can recoup the costs.

Whether it’s a visit with a specialist, a simple check-in, or an updated diagnosis and prescription, EMRs keep track of these interactions. This makes sure providers are reimbursed and that all expenses are covered. In addition, these systems also keep track of what providers bill against.

As vital as electronic health records are from a financial standpoint, however, they aren’t built to focus on the development of relationships with patients. And at the end of the day, it’s not the one or two in-clinic visits that make the biggest difference in a patient’s reported outcomes. Long lasting change happens in-between those appointments as care teams help patients stay on top of their health.

Because of their design, EMRs aren’t great at tracking relationship focused interactions such as a phone call or email to check in on a patient between appointments. Instead, they focus on services that impact revenue.

EHRs, while very similar to EMRs, are slightly more broad, allowing patients to view data such as lab results online. But because these systems focus on billing, patients still fall through the cracks. These systems don’t improve the value-based metrics needed for better compensation.

EMRs and EHRs are both vital for the longevity and profitability of health systems. However, they don’t necessarily improve patient relationships and capture the data needed for increased revenue streams.

What Are PRMs?

On the other hand, patient relationship management systems (PRMs) like Welkin are focused on tracking small, in between events. These telehealth innovations are less about the old fee-for-service model and more about providing care teams with metrics that prove the value of the program they offer.

As these data points improve, providers can receive better compensation from payers such as Medicaid. And since over 72 million U.S. patients are insured through these plans, these patient populations represent a growing source of revenue for providers.

Patient relationship systems help patients make changes in their lives. By collecting data from all interactions between a patient and their care team, these platforms provide insight into care plans. They also help medical staff offset contributing factors to disease and chronic illnesses.

The goal of these systems is to improve health information and care plans through regular interactions via phone calls, video chat, emails and surveys. Care teams can then take active steps, based on compiled data in the form of graphs and patient logs, to improve patient-reported outcomes.

When Should EMRs Be Used?

The last thing a care team needs is more tools for the sake of simply having more tools. With the hectic schedules many clinicians face, it’s too much to ask them to use two digital tools simultaneously.

If clinicians simply need features like e-prescribing and regulating clinical workflows, EMRs and EHRs are a good way to go. Since they are are built for tracking services and payments, EHRs also are best used for hospital systems that focus on large billable events they plan to charge insurance for directly.

When Should Welkin Be Used?

Patient relationships systems such as Welkin serve as an enhancement to existing EHRs, with the goal of supporting clinical teams. Welkin, for instance, exists to improve care team consideration of patient conditions. This allows these teams to keep the big picture in mind between appointments.

Teams can track small-scale interactions (such as following up with patients post-appointment) that happen in between large billable events. Patients find it easier to engage with care teams and collaborate on their long term care plan. As care teams use Welkin tools to track this data, they can then feed this information back into their EMR. As a result, in-person care becomes increasingly more effective.

Benefits of Using Welkin

Flexibility is a major facet of Welkin’s patient relationship management tools. Unlike EHRs which put the primary focus on major medical events, Welkin realizes that every care team operates differently when it comes to patient relationships. Therefore, teams need different automated operations and procedures to lessen their workload and increase efficiency.

For instance, EMRs don’t typically have automated check-ins and can’t be tailored to care team needs. Instead, they’re a one-size-fits-all program. Welkin, on the other hand, is customizable, allowing care teams to share specific information with patients or initiate interactions with patients who have more pressing needs.

As health care providers shift away from the traditional fee-for-service model to value-based care, patient relationship management tools can fill the gap.

They can either supplement your existing systems or provide you with a one-stop platform that manages all your patient engagement services.