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Why rural health providers need to reevaluate their EHR

Oct 06, 2023

As the backbone of a strong technology foundation, EHR, or EMR, can help rural health providers increase revenue and improve the patient experience by streamlining the documentation process. But realizing those benefits depends on how your organization is making use of your system.

If your organization isn’t seeing the benefits that it should, it may be time to optimize, upgrade or switch your system.

The benefits of a high-functioning EHR

Your EHR should be helping your organization:

1. Save time

By automating or providing templates for different aspects of documentation, the best EHR systems help physicians spend less time documenting a visit and more time on patient care, helping improve overall patient satisfaction.

Additionally, with less time per patient, you free up time for more visits, ultimately increasing your revenue.

2. Improve revenue capture

When your EHR is being used effectively, it helps your organization better capture revenue for the services you are providing for your patients. By making it more seamless for physicians to document (and even automate) charge capture, you can ensure you are getting paid accurately for services.

Your EHR should also be giving you the visibility to see where you could be increasing your net patient revenue gain. For example, it should be easy for your coders to see if your emergency department isn’t billing high enough for the level of service.

3. Incorporate new technology

Technology changes fast. Innovations like AI are creating new ways to revolutionize care, and the addition of systems like ERP and CRM are increasing the need for integration. To keep pace, you need to ensure that your EHR has the capability you need to support the future of your digital journey.

Key capabilities for rural health providers include:

  • Telehealth services: Telehealth is helping rural health providers increase patient access to care. Your EHR can support these services by helping you capture all the information you need for documentation in the same way that you would for an in-person patient.
  • Interoperability: EHRs with interoperability can connect to data from other facilities, giving you a comprehensive picture of a patient’s history and care no matter where they get treated. And by providing a more complete view of a patient’s medical record, this feature can help physicians make better decisions about care.

Getting more from your EHR

Optimizing, upgrading or switching your EHR can help provide your organization with the capability it needs.

Optimizing is typically the easiest option as it saves your organization the costs and implementation process that comes with upgrading or switching. However, staying with your current system could mean sacrificing needed capability or a better vendor relationship.

If you’re uncertain of which option is better for your organization, consider the following:


Sometimes limited capability may not be rooted in the system you’re using, but in a lack of staff training.

It’s typical to undergo a major training period when an EHR is first implemented, but training needs to happen on a continual basis. Depending on how long it’s been since implementation, those initial people who were trained may have left your organization and knowledge about certain capabilities may have been lost.

If you’ve fallen behind in training, consider working with a consultant to help optimize and ensure you're using your EHR to the best of its ability.

Vendor satisfaction

Evaluating your relationship with your vendor can help you decide if your organization needs a new system.

When looking at your vendor satisfaction, ask if your organization:

  • Has control over the features of your system that you want to change.
  • Receives timely responses to requests.
  • Gets the level of support you’re paying for.

Your level of satisfaction in answering these questions can help you determine whether you want to continue working with your current vendor on optimization or upgrades, or if you want to switch.


Your organization’s overall digital strategy is another important factor.

Integration is becoming increasingly important for providers as they take on additional systems like ERP and CRM — not to mention integrating patient monitors, point-of-care devices and other equipment. But older systems often don't have that capability, causing slowdowns and increased errors as staff have to switch between systems and even duplicate or manually enter data.

Choosing a new or upgraded EHR can help lay a successful foundation for all your organization’s digital needs.

How Wipfli can help

Wipfli gives you the guidance you need to understand how the latest solutions can help your organization grow. We can provide support for your EHR journey, from selecting the right software to overseeing your implementation and optimization. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your organization transform with technology.

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David Hersch, MBA
Senior Manager
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Nicholas Thate
Manager, Healthcare
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