EMR Integration: Facts, Benefits, Challenges, & Strategies

March 27, 2023

EMR integration hero blog post with API, HL7, FHIR, and PACS integrations

The benefits of EMRs (electronic medical records) are many. But, to get the most out of your EMR, it’s crucial that you utilize the right integrations. Today, we’re discussing all things EMR integration: what it is, what the benefits are, best practices, the challenges you might face, and strategies to remedy them.  

EMR integrations are useful ways to combine different systems into one. An EMR integration is the connection of disparate systems (including legacy systems), promoting consistent connectivity between all the various healthcare organization facilities and departments including those beyond radiology.  

PACS emr integration interface

An example of an integration with EMR includes API, PACS, FHIR, HL7, and beyond. These EMR data integrations help facilities overcome the challenges of having multiple, separate systems that need to feed information to each other.  

Infographic of EMR Integration facts

 

It’s also interesting to note that 89.9% of office-based physicians use an EMR system, but only 22.6% of EMR system users are “very satisfied” with their EMR system. Utilizing the right EMR integrations can help improve your overall experience. 

It’s important to note that many older EMR systems simply can’t meet the needs of different specialties and are not capable of harnessing the power of AI. With OmegaAI – the world’s first Imaging EMR – it’s built to integrate different apps to satisfy the needs of different specialties and to automate their workflows. So, let’s dig into the ins and outs of EMR integrations (a type of medical software integration). 

Importance of EMR 

Ultimately, the importance of an EMR is to offer electronic functionality as opposed paper record-keeping, allowing practices to digitize their patients’ medical records. It brings medical records into the 21st century and leads to benefits like less risk to natural disasters and increased compliance.  

An Infographic showing the EMR Integration Advantages for Patients

But in order to achieve the best outcome possible, it’s crucial to consider not just using an EMR, but an Imaging EMR. Imaging EMRs “are designed specifically to combine formally separate systems (EMRs, RIS, HIS, PACS, VNAs) into one system that will sit in the center of a healthcare organization or ecosystem providing instant access to medical data to patients and providers.” 

One of the key benefits of switching to an Imaging EMR – of which OmegaAI is the first – is that you receive instant ROI from day one. OmegaAI also features an intuitive use interface, compatibility with legacy & portable devices, a 360-degree view of patients’ health records, along with the ability to connect with other practices easily. Experience Patient-Centric Healthcare Records with Blume, the ultimate patient portal and more! Integrated with OmegaAI Imaging EMR, it’s your one-stop solution for enhanced care. 

What is an EMR integration? 

As an EMR integration definition, they connect EMRs with other healthcare applications to enable the efficient flow of healthcare data, effective communication, customization, the reduction of errors, and beyond.  

An EMR system integration helps practices merge different tools into one, allowing for more efficient workflows. Integrating many applications into a single system gives way to more streamlined processes.  

That leads us to our next point, which is an exploration of the benefits of such integrations. 

Benefits of EMR Integration 

Benefits of EMR Integration infographic

As we touched on, there are numerous EMR integration benefits. Here are just a few: 

Increased interconnectivity between organizations & facilities 

Perhaps the most important benefit of EMR integrations is the improved levels of interconnectivity between organizations and various facilities. Being able to share important patient data is crucial to delivering the highest level of care. 

Maximization of operational efficiency 

EMR integrations also help maximize operational efficiency, thanks to their ability to support customized solutions. This ever-growing choice of imaging workflow automation and interface tools help providers ultimately deliver the faster, more empowered care that we’re always striving for. 

Delivery of faster & better clinical outcomes 

Through the aforementioned increase in operational efficiency, providers are then able to deliver faster, more accurate clinical outcomes through an integrated EMR. Harnessing the power of multiple different apps and combining them into one can help practices perform at a higher level of care. 

Consolidation of tools 

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of an integrated EMR is the ability to consolidate tools – rather than using multiple different apps, a provider can opt to integrate the apps they need into a single solution, like OmegaAI, using resources like our app marketplace. 

Near-instant ROI 

Through the quick deployment of Imaging EMRs like OmegaAI, practices can reap the benefit of almost near-instant ROI. Using integrations can help boost this benefit, allowing providers to see a quicker and bigger return on investment by using their Imaging EMR tool efficiently. 

Gaining of invaluable, accurate business insights 

By integrating your EMR with a real-time analytics application, you can see the benefits of improved data collection, access to organizational data, custom reports, and even AI-automated forecasts/ trending models. OmegaAI easily integrates with Root for this purpose.  

EMR Integration with Business Analytics Tools

 

The ability to “build-your-own” Imaging EMR 

Another benefit of EMR integrations is the fact that you can essentially build-your-own Imaging EMR. This supreme level of customization makes Imaging EMRs even more attractive; not only are they innovative, but they’re also flexible, allowing you to plug-and-play with tools you’d like to combine them with.  

Just use the OmegaAI App Marketplace and select your choice of Reporting Apps, Workflow Optimization Apps, Clinical Support (AI) Apps, and beyond to integrate with your EMR. 

Challenges during EMR integration 

Infographic of challenges of EMR Integrations

 

Despite the many benefits of such integrations, there are also several EMR integration challenges that can come up along the way, too. These include… 

Difficulties with interoperability when working with various vendors 

When using a collection of different vendors, interoperability can be a challenge, and sharing healthcare information can become an issue. Getting each vendor on board with EMR integrations is crucial.  

The optimization of workflows 

When implementing integrations to your EMR, there is the risk of altering a physician’s workflow to an inconvenient degree. It’s important to involve clinicians at every step of the implementation process to ensure that their workflow is optimized for real-life usage. 

Limitations on a technical basis 

There are, of course, also technical limitations that can affect EMR integration. So, connectors like APIs are crucial in bridging this gap.  

Adherence to regulatory and security standards 

Adhering to regulatory and security standards is another challenging aspect of integrating your EMR. Regulatory compliance, like to HIPAA in the US or PIPEDA in Canada, for example, is necessary when dealing with personal health information through an EMR. Ensuring your compliance at all steps of the EMR integration process is paramount. 

Operational challenges 

There can also be difficulties operationally speaking. When integrating your EMR, interoperability is at risk when clinicians don’t follow the same operations. Getting clinicians on the same page becomes a necessity when trying to optimize for interoperability, then. 

Conflicts within the administrative sphere 

You may encounter other hiccups along the way, like running into resistant administrators. They might have issues with EMR integrations, for reasons like contracts or difficulty coordinating amongst stakeholders. This can make third-party integrations feel cumbersome. Having your agreements in a row can help resolve some of these growing pains. 

EMR API Integration  

Our WEB API (REST) gives way to freedom and flexibility when delivering information from platform to platform, securely and over the internet in various structure types. It allows easier integration with other applications like insurance eligibility, billing, and patient notification. 

It can be used to exchange information securely between multiple systems without the needs for a VPN or HL7 interface. It can deliver information through structures like JSON, XML, CSV, or direct API call.  

Note: An API is, “an application programming interface that oversees the processing of requests and works to safeguard seamless functionality between systems within an enterprise.” 

HL7 EMR Integration  

Our Mirth interface engine (HL7) is embedded and gives way to interface with various systems and workflows, supporting multiple report formats and mapping of IDs, increasing efficiency, reducing errors/omissions, and decreasing operating costs. It also provides a fully customizable workflow when integrating HL7 with an EMR. 

FHIR EMR Integration 

HL7’s most advanced interoperability standard – FHIR —facilitates the seamless exchange of healthcare information between providers, patients, and insurance companies; making it extremely relevant for any EMR integration. It’s internet-based and connects various systems. FHIR utilizes resource tags (which are like URLs) to bundle information and connect applications across the same versions of data. Enabling seamless connectivity with various systems, FHIR integrates with EMRs, HIS, billing systems, and more.  

Looking for a solution that integrates with APIs, HL7, and FHIR? Well, your search is over. OmegaAI, the world’s first Imaging EMR, can integrate with each one – effortlessly. Learn more today.   

EMR Integrations with Systems 

Infographic of challenges of EMR Integrations

Telehealth 

Your EMR needs to integrate with telehealth apps so that you can conveniently provide remote care options for your patients. Rather than having a provider jump between platforms while coordinating remote care, an EMR integration provides a unified, single platform for them to use. Integrating telehealth apps with and EMR, then, ultimately offers improved speed and care delivery.   

Laboratory Information System 

Integrating your EMR with a Laboratory Information System can help facilitate the transmission and reading of lab results. This simplifies the process of providers sending orders to a lab and (later) obtaining test results. These two aspects of an EMR integration improve the quality of care. 

Clinical Trial Management System 

The benefits of combining your EMR with a Clinical Trial Management System are focused mainly on billing. This integration can aid in the processing of study billing definitions from a Clinical Trial Management System to an EMR.  

Medical Device Integration 

Medical Device Integration with EMR offers an increase in the speed of information transfer between different facilities and providers. For example, a hospital might share patient vitals and data, which can both be sent more efficiently through this type of integration. 

Medical Billing 

An EMR system integration with medical billing apps helps make payments a breeze. This type of integration can help provide faster payments, a lower workload, and even decreased costs – all while giving clearer insights into how much revenue is coming into a specific practice. These practical benefits make such integrations well worth the effort.  

Information Systems 

Information systems, such as radiology information systems or oncology-specific EMRs, are another important option to consider when choosing integrations. These types of healthcare software integration can help make your oncology or radiology emr run more efficiently. Therefore, EMR integration software can get very specific.  

8 Tips for EMR Integration Strategy to Ensure Interoperability 

To ensure interoperability, we have some handy tips for your strategy with tips.

  • Define scope, requirements, and goals 
  • Define systems to be integrated with EMR 
  • Define relevant regulations, like HIPAA 
  • Analyze data flows 
  • Create a project/activation plan 
  • Ensure support available after integrations go live 
  • Tweak & optimize as necessary after implementation 

An infographic showing the EMR Integration strategy and best practices

Wrapping Up 

As you can see, every EMR integration is multi-faceted and valuable for different reasons. There are many considerations to take into account when employing them for your practice. Here are some key takeaways/points: 

  • 89.9% of office-based physicians use an EMR system, but only 22.6% of EMR system users are “very satisfied” with their EMR system 
  • Imaging EMRs “are designed specifically to combine formally separate systems (EMR, RIS, HIS, PACS, VNAs) into one system that will sit in the center of a healthcare organization or ecosystem providing instant access to medical data to patients and providers,” 
  • EMR integration benefits include: increased interconnectivity between organizations & facilities, maximization of operational efficiency, delivery of faster & better clinical outcomes, consolidation of tools, near-instant ROI, gaining of invaluable, accurate business insights, and the ability to “build-your-own” Imaging EMR 
  • EMR integration challenges include: difficulties with interoperability when working with various vendors, the optimization of workflows, limitations on a technical basis, adherence to regulatory and security standards, operational challenges, and conflicts within the administrative sphere 
  • Different types of integration include via APIs, HL7, and FHIR 
  • EMR integrations with systems include: telehealth, laboratory information systems, clinical trial management systems, medical device integrations, medical billing, and information systems 

Looking to level up your EMR integration process? Consider the OmegaAI Imaging EMR.  

Built to make integration as simple as downloading an app, its Marketplace is equipped with relevant partnerships and growing every day. Reach out for your free demo