Medical Software

The 5 Must-Have EHR Features to Save Time and Improve Care

Published by in Medical Software

Update: This post was updated 4/21/2017 to include more recent research.

A good electronic health record system (EHR) can help streamline your practice workflow and reduce the staff time required for a number of common tasks.

Beyond keeping meticulous and clear records, groundbreaking EHR systems provide key functionality, such as interoperability (one of Capterra’s Surprising Health Tech Trends Forecast for 2017) for healthcare providers to effectively work with other providers.

By giving healthcare providers access to a patient’s complete health information, an EHR can help reduce errors, improve patient safety and support the total health of the patient.

A fully functional EHR system can help healthcare providers offer better healthcare to patients by:

1. Enabling quick access to patient records for more coordinated yet efficient care

2. Making prescribing safer and more reliable

3. Reducing costs through decreased paperwork and less duplication of testing

EHR Features

Are you looking to supercharge your Electronic Health Record system and deliver improved patient care across your practice? Ask for the five following add-on features to your EHR.

1. Online appointment booking

This is an absolute must-have unless you’re using separate medical practice management software.

No one wants to have to call to book—not in 2017. Most EHR systems now offer integrated scheduling tools that connect directly to your practice calendar.

2. Integrations

Most EHRs also connect with labs so you can share information with other healthcare providers and provide them with a comprehensive picture of all the clinicians involved in the patient’s care. Interoperable systems cut down on paperwork, reduce costs, and make it easy for you and your patient to keep results in order and ready to view from anywhere.

At the CHIME16 Fall CIO Forum, Intermountain Healthcare CIO Marc Probst pointed out that data silos kill hundreds of thousands of patients and waste billions of dollars each year.

Health tech regulations are increasingly incentivizing greater interoperability. Probst also called for federally mandated healthcare interoperability standards.

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives is pushing organizations to adopt a national patient identifier, which could help providers pass information about patients between healthcare organizations without interoperable health technology.

3. Patient portal with secure messaging

Patient portals have become nearly ubiquitous among EHRs, in part because they’re incentivized under Meaningful Use. But they’re not all created equal.

When choosing an EHR system, ask whether patients can view their charts, treatment plan, diagnoses, appointment history, vaccination records, lab results, and outstanding balances. This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it’ll get you started. Also, find out whether patients can request refills and contact your practice directly through the portal.

A patient portal with secure messaging can reduce no-shows, provide instant and secure information to authorized patients, and overall contribute to a highly interactive doctor-patient experience. Give your patients the convenience they want while enhancing the privacy and security of patient data with an end-to-end EHR system.

4. Free support and training

No matter what the software, user reviews consistently highlight support and training.  (You can see a whole host of EHR software reviews at Capterra.)

Good EHR systems provide detailed FAQs and offer expensive consultants.

Great EHR systems provide excellent and responsive customer support, coupled with a user-friendly interface at a low cost. Your time should be spent delivering excellent service to your patients and not troubleshooting technical issues.

Phenomenal EHR systems helps healthcare providers improve productivity and meet their business goals with an efficient onboarding process. Ask your EHR vendor about building in free and unlimited support into your agreement.

5. Patient referrals

Sending and tracking the source of referrals can be a huge headache for your medical practice and is often simply ignored. An EHR system with patient referral capabilities saves you and your patient time while providing a creative way to track customer satisfaction. Send the right patient to the right doctor every time while improving patient and provider interaction and communication. Include continuity of care (CCD) records with your referrals to make sure crucial health information gets transferred too.


The EHR market is changing and physicians have more “buying power” than ever when it comes to building their perfect EHR system. The best EHR systems improve all aspects of patient care, including safety, communication, and timeliness, while helping healthcare providers make better clinical decisions by integrating patient information across various parts. Add-on features, such as the five options we’ve listed here, can help take your EHR technology from being a simple replacement for paper charts to a deep partner in delivering the best and safest patient experience.

There are over 100 EHRs that have online appointment management, patient portal functionality, charting, and e-prescribing in our directory for you to compare.

What’s your favorite EHR add-on service? Let us know in the comments!

Looking for Medical Practice Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Medical Practice Management software solutions.

About the Author

Matt Douglass

Matt Douglass

Matt Douglass is the co-founder and SVP of customer experience at free, cloud-based EHR provider Practice Fusion. Matt created the SaaS technology framework that enables rapid development of the company’s nationwide platform, used daily by over 112,000 medical professionals. He has spoken on healthcare technology at SDForum, Health 2.0, MIT, Stanford, and Microsoft event


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