Five oncology EHRs to kickstart your selection shortlist

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Oncological care presents unique challenges with regard to EHR needs. These challenges include managing and sharing clinical data across settings given that cancer is often being treated for multiple co-occurring conditions by different providers. Further, oncology care presents unique challenges due to the complex and data-intensive nature of oncology and the complex care cancer patients receive. As such, cancer care providers must select an oncology specific EHR rather than a general EHR that can be customized for oncology care. 

The types of features that oncology practices feel are necessary to provide quality care were identified recently in a survey conducted by the Association of Community Cancer Centers. The Association asked oncology practices to identify the features   these providers designated as features that were viewed as the top priorities for investment. The survey respondents indicated, in order of importance the following features: 1. Care coordination among an increasing number of sub-specialists in oncology; 2 Symptom management; and 3. Screening services. 

Given the specialized needs of oncologists, the oncology EHR systems available to consumers largely represent a universe of vendors whose primary focus is serving this niche. In the emerging specialty market of oncology EHR systems, the products profiled here represent a sample of the top players in this space.

1. Oncology EHR (CureMD)

CureMD offers cloud based, customizable EHR, billing, scheduling and practice management solutions. CureMD is a smaller scale EHR vendor in terms of volume of customers but despite their size CureMD has been able to offer a sophisticated product that competes with larger volume vendors.

CureMD oncology EHR includes a number of automation features to improve workflow in an oncology setting. These automations include monitoring lab work to ensure chemotherapy plans are adjusted to accommodate hepatic or renal adversities. Also included are workflow features covering chemotherapy ordering efficiency, billing and imaging.

The system rates highly on usability due to a streamlined interface, and users also expressed their satisfaction with the support services that CureMD offers. One of the few user complaints with the CureMD system was the reliability and functionality found in the Avalon iOS app.

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2. ARIA Oncology Information System (Varian)

The ARIA oncology information system offers an EHR and image management solution combining radiation, medical and surgical management capabilities. The system allows clinical staff to manage the patient's course of treatment from initial diagnosis through post-treatment follow-up.

The evaluation of diagnosis-specific data, which allows users to compare acute responses to treatment and long-term clinical outcomes, is a major selling point. Other key advantages are the ability to develop disease-specific clinical protocols, radiation dose monitoring and treatment image review.

Oncology EHR scores highly with users for technical ability and mobility due to this breadth of functionality. However, some users have reported that the complexity of the system can impact its customizability and hamper efforts to reduce workload for clinical staff.

3. OncoEMR (Flatiron)

The Flatiron Health OncologyCloud platform includes a medical record for oncology, analytics, patient portal, and integrated billing management. Flatiron works closely with Varian (see above) to ensure that OncoEMR is fully interoperable with the ARIA Oncology Information System. 

Interoperability with another leading oncology software is a major advantage of OncoEMR. It also features integrated pathways from organizations such as Via Oncology, as well as managed clinical content including the NCCN Chemotherapy Order Templates (NCCN Templates)

4. MOSAIQ (Elekta)

A regular feature in yearly round-ups and 'best of' articles, Elekta's MOSAIQ is an EMR and practice management system designed specifically for oncologists. 

Practitioners value MOSAIQ's flexibility - it performs well across modalities, making it as useful for medical oncology practitioners and surgeons. It can be deployed on-premise or on an SaaS model, depending on practice needs. 

Whilst some users report that live support could be improved slightly, MOSAIQ is easy to use for both administrators and clinicians. It is ideally suited to practices looking for a flexible and scalable solution that will evolve with market challenges.

5. iKnowMed Generation 2 (McKesson)

McKesson Specialty Heath collaborated with over 200 oncologists to produce iKnowMed - a powerful web-based EHR specifically designed for those working in oncology and hematology.

The system ranks particularly well for ease of use, and the extensive amount of consultation that went into creating iKnowMed has certainly paid off.  One of McKesson's most useful features is a separate nursing documentation log which helps keep clinicians on top of who has done what.

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6. Medsym Solutions

MedSym Solutions offers an oncology-specific, fully-integrated EHR and Practice Management software system. MedSym can be scaled down for solo practices and scaled up for larger organizations.  MedSym offers a standard suite of EHR features on par with its competitors. Where MedSym has attempted to carve out its own niche in the oncology software market has been its emphasis on its practice management solutions. 

MedSymPM features a Microsoft SQL database for storage purposes, offers features which allow eligibility checks, alerts and notifications for billing and claims, claim processing and account receivables management. In order to enhance financial performance MedSym Solutions offers reimbursement recovery, full-service billing, and AR recovery solutions. In addition to its software-based billing services MedSym offers its Drug Reimbursement Recovery System a retrospective, contingency-based consulting agreement whereby the vendor uses data collected through its EHR and practice management suite to identify missed drug charges.  

Given this trend of increasing market flux, selecting a new oncology system will be a challenging decision, but these six systems should provide a solid starting point. When considering these vendors, it is important to consider not only clinical needs, but also how the product aligns with your practice’s larger business strategy. 

This expertise doesn't come cheap - an above average base price and additional costs for non-core modules will put this out of reach for many small practices. Nevertheless, it lives up to its cost, and oncologists who have the budget should give iKnowMed some serious consideration. 

The oncology EHR market is narrow, and rightly so given the nature of oncological practice. However, the market for products in this niche appears to be developing at a rapid pace and is even undergoing consolidation of certain products as evidenced by the Varian-Flatiron collaboration.

Given this trend of increasing market flux, selecting a new oncology system will be a challenging decision, but these five systems should provide a solid starting point.

Product information correct as of January 2017. Please contact customerteam@ehrinpractice.com if you would like to report incorrect information. User sentiment discussed in this article is derived from a cross-section of public reviews.

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Jeff Green

About the author…

Jeff Green, MPH, JD works as a freelance writer and consultant in the Healthcare information Technology Space.

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Jeff Green

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