Does your multi-service organization really need an EHR?

home nurse discusses medication with patient

Written by Caitlin Feehan

As a company that has been immersed in the nonprofit and social services sector for the past twenty-odd years, we have seen just how much variation there is when it comes to industry terminology. The language in this sector has evolved substantially over the years and varies based on things like geography, client base, services offered, government regulations, and even personal preference.

A simple example is the variation in how social service organizations refer to the people they serve: clients, customers, individuals, patients, care recipients…the list goes on. There is also a huge range of terms that are used to describe these organizations themselves, such as agencies, centers, associations, corporations, service providers, and more. You name it, and it’s probably out there.

Case Management Software vs EHRs: Are They Really That Different?

psychiatrist with pregnant clientThe thing that affects us most when it comes to in terminology in our sector is that there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on what to call the systems that help social service organizations manage, track, and report on client and service information. Terms like case management software, client information management software, practice management software, and even EHR and EMR are often used interchangeably to describe systems that perform these functions, even when there are major differences in their capabilities and the groups they were intended to serve. When the terms are generic but the systems are highly differentiated, it can make searching for the right solution confusing.

In our work with organizations that are looking for these kinds of systems, we’ve had our fair share of terminology confusion. In fact, while we do not brand ourselves as an EHR, some of our most productive conversations come from groups who have accidently stumbled upon us when looking for a system branded as an EHR. We have a lot of phone calls that start off with agencies telling us they need an EHR or EMR, but when they take the time to explore our offering, they realize that Penelope is exactly what they’re looking for despite being branded as a case management system.

The Best of Both Worlds

Many of these agencies start looking for an EHR in order to meet the medical needs of a very small subset of their programs, but when they look more generally at their needs, there are multiple reasons why Penelope ends up being the best fit despite not being branded as a true EHR. One of Penelope’s strengths is its unified case structure, which, in simpler terms, describes its ability to track all client data, even across programs and services, in one case file and in one system.

weekly medication in organizerMany of the agencies we talk to tell us that they need to administer prescriptions for one or two of their many programs—for example, they may have a small psychiatry unit or offer behavioral health support as part of their overall service mix—and they assume this means they need to purchase an EHR that’s separate from the system they already use to manage client information, or they try to manage all their client information within an unintuitive EHR that isn’t built to serve this function. Thankfully, we can be there to help them realize that what they really need is a more robust case management system with medication management capabilities built in. They’re often pleasantly surprised to hear that such a solution exists, and they’re even more delighted when they find out it costs significantly less than maintaining two (or more) separate systems.

The Perfect Solution

Penelope can now serve as the comprehensive solution they need thanks to our recent partnership with DrFirst to make their Rcopia e-prescribing software available directly from within our system. This means that multi-service organizations can now have a comprehensive and centralized client information management system that incorporates all the elements of a traditional EHR they need to issue, renew, refill, and manage prescription drugs for their psychiatric and behavioral health programming, all for a fraction of the cost of an EHR.

If you’d like to learn more, please contact us and someone from our team will reach out to follow up.

EHR vs. Case Management Software Webinar

Join Athena Senior Sales Executive Micah Gold-Utting as he explores the differences between case management software and EHR solutions, and how to select the system that works best for your social service organization.

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