3 Ways EMRs Help OTs with Compliance

3 ways EMRs help OTs with compliance 

OT and compliance

With the help of an electronic medical record (EMR) system, staying up to date on regulatory changes doesn’t have to be painfully complicated. In fact, when you arm your clinic with the right EMR, you’ll probably find that compliant documentation can be both simple and intuitive. Here are three EMR benefits that help OTs stay compliant:

1. Clean Documentation

In the current regulatory landscape, there’s an array of documentation requirements therapists must wrangle to stay compliant. From functional limitation reporting (FLR) to physician quality reporting system (PQRS)—not to mention the impending ICD-10 implementation—there are a lot of tricky compliance needs to manage. But without an EMR, juggling all of those complicated regulations is only half the battle, because you’ll have to manage all of these requirements with only your trusty pen and paper. That means the burden of staying up to date on the latest compliance happenings rests solely on your shoulders—and the consequences of falling behind in your compliance know-how could result in claim denials, or worse: Medicare audits. However, if you have a solid EMR in place, you can minimize a lot of that risk through built-in compliance safeguards. Here’s what to look for: 

  • The system should have notifications and workflows designed with compliance in mind. 
  • These tools should be intuitive and user-friendly.
  • The system’s suite of compliance tools and alerts should act as a safeguard against compliance oversight on your end.

In addition to ensuring compliant documentation, your EMR should offer OT-specific templates. That way, you’ll both save time and eliminate the headache of wading through documentation features that don’t apply to you. When you use an EMR with OT-specific documentation, you can easily document ADLS, orthosis fabrication, and other upper functional tests using comprehensive hand and wrist profiles. Additionally, if your clinic has a specialty, your EMR should have the flexibility to accommodate documentation that falls outside of the “norm” (with free-text boxes for treatment elaboration, for example). Overall, when it comes to clear, comprehensive, and compliant documentation, an EMR is your best bet. 

2. Cloud-Based Protection

If your clinic has paper charts stacked—or filed, for that matter—from floor to ceiling, you risk more than some serious paper cuts. Paper documents are susceptible to physical security breaches, along with a host of environmental risks (e.g., fire, flood, and other unpredictable events). Furthermore, if Medicare did audit your clinic, combing through these paper documents could prove to be a nightmare. A cloud-based EMR helps you keep your patients’ sensitive files organized and secure. For those who aren’t quite sold on the security of cloud-based system, this WebPT blog post highlights just how safe its cloud-based system really is: “In a cloud-based system, your data is stored in a maximum-security facility complete with armed guards and retina scanning technology.”

3.  Frequent Updates

Cloud-based EMRs undergo frequent updates to incorporate regulatory changes and technological improvements. These updates should allow you to easily track the therapy cap and 8-minute rule, apply CCI edits correctly, and accurately report PQRS. In addition to meeting the aforementioned requirements, your EMR also should provide access to a comprehensive bank of ICD-10 codes—and a built-in tool that’ll help you choose the right ones. That way, when October 1, 2015, arrives, you’ll be prepared to implement the new code set without having to do any heavy lifting. (I mean, literally. The code book is massive.) And speaking of updates, your EMR vendor should help you stay current on the latest industry trends by providing quality educational resources. For example, if your EMR has a blog, it should help you navigate the murky compliance waters and offer guidance and insight on other relevant industry topics. One last EMR compliance perk: good EMR systems offer free phone and email support to help you when you’re stuck.

The regulatory changes will keep rolling in, but OTs don’t have to navigate the stormy seas alone. Look to an EMR to help you tackle those compliance waves. Have questions? Leave ’em in the comments section below, and I’ll do my darndest to get you an answer. 

About the Author

Courtney Lefferts is a content producer for WebPT, the ultimate electronic medical record solution for PTs, OTs, and SLPs. While she always knew she wanted to be a writer, her journey to authorship was far from traditional. Before working for WebPT, Courtney was a professional dancer, boasting more than 15 years of ballet experience. After facing a career-ending injury, she gleaned years of customer service experience from a wide array of jobs—from retail to the craft of croissant-making. 

It was this extensive customer service experience that led Courtney to WebPT in 2012. After becoming a premier application expert, she brought her love of writing full circle by accepting a position on the marketing team. During her time at WebPT, the company has earned a spot on the Inc. 500 list of the nation’s fastest-growing companies two years in a row, and in 2014, the company received a significant investment from the Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm, Battery Ventures.

When she’s not knee deep in crafting blog posts, Courtney loves getting her sweat on at Barre3 and binge-reading young adult fiction. She lives in north Phoenix with her husband and three fluffy dogs. For follow-up questions or additional information about WebPT, please contact courtney@WebPT.com.