Updated: Sep 11
Before I started my own functional medicine consulting practice, I worked for a corporate healthcare system as a primary care provider for four years and as a critical care float nurse in their local hospital for eight years before that. During that time, we transitioned from paper charting to our first electronic health record (EHR) and finally to EPIC EHR. As a nurse, you may be familiar with EPIC, as it is one of the most popular EHRs globally. I appreciated many aspects of EPIC, but it wasn't perfect. Among other things, it is too expensive for a small, private health practice in most cases.
When I began looking for a more affordable EHR option for my own private practice, I spent several months researching options. Ultimately, I chose to use Practice Better. So many of my functional medicine RN and NP students as me for insights into why I chose this platform, so I wanted to share my experience.
In today's ever-evolving healthcare landscape, nurses play a vital role in delivering personalized and holistic care, particularly in the realms of functional medicine and nurse coaching (my specialties). To enhance their practice and provide optimal care, nurses need efficient tools that can help streamline their workflow and improve patient outcomes. I don't know that Practice Better is the best option for every nurse or nurse practitioner starting their own practice, but I'll share my thoughts on using the platform.
Enhanced Efficiency and Organization
One of the most significant advantages of using the Practice Better EHR is the enhanced efficiency it brings to a nurse's workflow. With this platform, nurses can easily manage patient records, appointment scheduling, and communication, all in one place. When I worked in the corporate healthcare setting, we had so many different applications to accomplish these tasks! I was so relieved to find that I could set up my schedule/availability, my preferences for scheduling, payments, a reminder system, message with clients, AND have a virtual video visit all in one platform!
There are so many opportunities to automate things in Practice Better. For example, I have created my own intake forms, visit notes, legal documents, etc. in the platform. I then automated a process to have the patient automatically receive these to complete before the appropriate visits. When a potential client wants to schedule with me, they choose from my availability, pay for the visit, receive their intake forms and legal documents to complete, and receive reminder/visit confirmation messages prior to the visit. ALL of this is automated, which makes my life SOOO much easier!
Speaking of creating forms, notes, and legal documents, that is a big advantage of Practice Better. I appreciate how customizable the platform is. I can create electronic documents that require a patient signature, and it is stored in their records after completion. I have my visit notes prebuilt, so during a visit, I can just add pertinent information, sign, and save the note.
There is also a phone application for Practice Better, so that the healthcare provider and patient have access to the EHR anywhere their phone has a connection. The ability to access patient information at their fingertips streamlines the administrative tasks that often consume precious time.
Comprehensive Health Profiles
In functional medicine and nurse coaching, a holistic approach to patient care is crucial. Practice Better EHR allows nurses to create comprehensive health profiles for their patients, including health history, lifestyle factors, dietary preferences, and more. Having access to this information enables nurses to tailor their coaching and treatment plans to each patient's unique needs, promoting better health outcomes. Since Practice Better is so customizable, nurses can create a workflow and organizational system in the EHR that works for their unique practice and offerings.
Secure and HIPAA-Compliant
Patient confidentiality is paramount in healthcare. Practice Better EHR prioritizes security and compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This ensures that patient data is kept safe and secure, providing peace of mind for both nurses and their patients. Nurses can confidently communicate with patients through the platform, knowing that their sensitive information is protected.
Effective communication is the cornerstone of successful nurse coaching and functional medicine. Practice Better EHR offers secure messaging and video conferencing features, allowing nurses to communicate with their patients in real-time. This facilitates ongoing support, clarifies doubts, and fosters a strong patient-nurse relationship. In a world where remote healthcare is becoming increasingly important, this feature is invaluable.
I will say that one of the most important aspects of setting up a private practice and having such an efficient messaging service requires us as nurses to be clear in our boundaries with patients. So my advice for RNs and NPs setting up a practice of their own includes being certain they are clear in their work hours/personal life, avoiding answering messages during their "off hours", holidays, and weekends, and most importantly, making very clear to patients right up front what the messaging feature is appropriate for. I let my patients know that it is a feature specifically for asking CLARIFYING questions, but not to discuss new concerns or topics that would require me to ask for more information. I actually have mine set up with an auto-reply to reiterate this. If it's a new concern, please schedule a follow-up appointment.
Every nurse has their own unique approach to patient care. I mentioned that Practice Better EHR allows nurses to create and customize forms, but they also have prebuilt options that can be used or adapted. This flexibility enables nurses to align their EHR with their specific practice philosophies and methodologies, further enhancing the quality of care they provide.
Data Analytics and Insights
Practice Better EHR offers data analytics tools that can help nurses track patient progress and outcomes. By analyzing this data, nurses can refine their coaching strategies and treatment plans, continually improving their practice. This data-driven approach empowers nurses to make informed decisions and adapt to their patients' evolving needs.
One of my favorite things about this platform is the integrations. I was able to connect my HIPPA secure Zoom account for enhanced virtual visit features (although the video visits offered within the EHR work great). I have also connected Practice Better to my Fullscript dispensary, so my supplement recommendations are automated and any protocols I develop are easily accessible. When I realize I commonly address a health concern in a similar manner with multiple patients, I can set up a protocol that includes handouts, links, written information, and my Fullscript recommendations. This saves me so much time!
Recently, Practice Better partnered with Rupa Health as well. Now, my lab results are able to populate in the EHR as well! And just a few months ago, they also partnered with That Clean Life, which allows nurses to share customized meal plans and recipes with patients. There are many other integration options, but these are the ones I have had experience with.
Room to Grow
There is so much more we can offer as nurses beyond a one-on-one visit! In the Practice Better platform, there are options for setting up patient education courses, group visits, and so much more. I am currently developing some patient education courses that will be automated, and within Practice Better, I am able to create each module of the course, and embed recorded videos, handouts, etc. Patients can then work their way through the course at their own pace, and it is all automated! Similarly, you can build group memberships, and even the chat feature for group members to connect is customizable based on the nurse's preferences for that group.
No Prescription Options
I will say that one downfall of Practice Better is the lack of ability to send prescriptions. This is not an aspect of my practice, but I do know this is a barrier/complaint for some RNs and NPs considering using it as their EHR.
Practice Better is also quite affordable compared to many other EHR options. I initially used their free Sprout Plan to explore the platform. Once I was confident it was the right EHR for my practice, I was able to use their many YouTube videos to guide me through the process of setting up my practice. I was able to set up and customize everything so seamlessly because their tutorials are very detailed.
Honestly, there is so much more to this platform that I am forgetting to mention, but students ask me about it all of the time. I wanted to share a more thorough explanation of why I chose to use this particular platform. It's not just about managing records; it's about delivering better care. Practice Better EHR empowers nurses to do just that.