A Comprehensive Guide on Inpatient EHR vs Ambulatory EHR

May 14, 2022

With time, paper medical records are becoming ancient. The adoption of health information technology is rising at an increasing rate, especially electronic health records. The use of both the popular EHRs – inpatient and ambulatory is increasing but mostly people don't understand the real difference between these two. As per a study by Definitive Healthcare, a comprehensive and accurate data insights company, “around 89% of all hospitals are using inpatient or ambulatory EHRs”.

What is the basic difference between the two EHRs?

Inpatient EHR:

These types of EHR software are used by the hospitals to not only manage the records but also manage their workflow. The best thing about these EHRs is that they are extremely helpful in integrating and exchanging patient information across all departments.

Ambulatory EHR:

Ambulatory EHRs are designed to assist both outpatient care facilities and smaller practices. Unlike inpatient, these EHRs are simple and are designed to track not only the patient records but care details as well by bypassing the complex structure of hospital departments.

Digitalization is providing a plethora of opportunities across all mediums for enhanced patient record management. Whereas the EHRs are phasing out time-consuming paper-based procedures for better workflows. Inpatient and outpatient facilities are not the same and with plenty of electronic health records software out there, selecting the right one is a daunting task. When one knows the difference between the two, selection becomes easy.

How to choose the right EHR for your practice?

The first step in choosing the right EHR is to identify your facility needs. If the facilities come under the umbrella of inpatient treatment, integrating an inpatient EHR will be helpful whereas, for outpatient facilities, ambulatory EHR will be the right choice. It is recommended to take a deep look at your treatment Centre's specific needs so that you will be making the right call. Below is a complete overview of both the EHRs that will help you in choosing the right EHR as per your practice needs.

Inpatient EHR

Inpatient EHRs are designed to manage inpatient data and these EHRs are the first choice of several hospitals to streamline their workflow. In the recent past, hospitals preferred to install separate software for every department and because of it, integration gets difficult. Every single department needs to not only separately print out the results but also manually enter the data. This whole process takes a lot of time, increasing the chances of duplicate data.

Nowadays the electronic health records software has become more sophisticated – linking all the departments, resulting in sharing complete patient information across all departments.

Ambulatory EHR

Ambulatory EHR focuses on assisting outpatient care facilities along with small practices. With the help of these EHRs, the providers can easily access patients’ complete medical history which helps them to take timely decisions. Ambulatory EHRs are considered simpler as they only deal with a single practice. Because of it, these EHRs are making it quite easier for medical professionals to get all the patient details. Providers are using these electronic health records software for both the specific as well as detailed medical information such as diagnosis, treatments, visits, and other similar information. This complete information helps the physicians to streamline future diagnoses. Ambulatory EHR integration with the patient portal is nowadays a “must-have” as it aids the patients in easily accessing their updated medical records.

Outpatient treatment is getting more popular because of its immense advantages. Patients prefer this mode of treatment as they enjoy a lot more freedom in their bed as compared to the hospital room. Apart from the convenience, the patients don’t have to eat from the hospital’s cafeteria as they can eat their own food. In the hospital, the movement is restricted but this is not the case when a patient is at home.

With all this freedom, the percentage of patients preferring outpatient services is getting higher, same goes for ambulatory EHR. As per a report by Emergen Research, a syndicated research and consulting firm, “In 2019, the global share of ambulatory EHR was around $4.48 billion and in 2027, it is expected to go beyond $6.66 billion.”

Choosing the Right one

After all this detailed discussion, it is clear that for single practices, an ambulatory EHR is recommended. You have the freedom to choose from both the ambulatory EHR and inpatient EHR if you are part of a chain of practices. For the owners of a single or a chain of hospitals, implementing both the EHRs will be a preferred solution.

Interoperability between the two electronic health records software is not there yet but with the advancement in technologies, we are expecting it soon. Price is also a deciding factor and the smaller practices usually go for cost-efficient options to accomplish their goals. Every healthcare provider has different needs so, when you are choosing an electronic health records software, the focal point would be to choose the right one. You need to keep in mind the capabilities, functionalities and advantages of electronic health records software before making any final call so that you will have a hassle-free experience.

Bottom line

EHRs are now the backbone of every practice. They not only help providers deliver better care but also help them to streamline their workflow. With the help of electronic health records software, doctors can take timely and accurate decisions using up-to-date and complete medical information. The main question is how to get to know about the right EHR for your practice? The answer lies within the requirements of your practice. If you want to enhance your practice’s efficiency, the right approach is to integrate an EHR as per your practice’s needs. Both the ambulatory and inpatient EHRs have their advantage but you need to choose the one that will help you make efficient and effective decisions.

The above discussed were some of the core points that will help practices to take the right decisions. Prefer the EHR that will not only assist the providers to diagnose cases efficiently but also help mitigate medical errors.