Smart Flow Blog

We are revolutionizing the way veterinarians care about in-hospital patients.

PMS vs EMR - Do You Really Need Both?

Kat Milcke, RVT Jul 14, 2017 7:00:00 AM

Smart Flow is often used as an addition to another program, such as Ezyvet, eVet, Avimark, RxWorks, etc, rather than as a stand alone. Have you ever wondered why you have both and what they do individually?

At Smart Flow, we refer to ourselves as a patient management system (PMS - not to be confused with the mood swings and cramping!). Smart Flow is amazing because it focuses on patient care, simplifying communication and increasing efficiency by being solely about patient management. An EMR is what we at Smart Flow call an electronic medical record program, so something that stores your medical records, essentially, and does other essential things like the financial side of things, and booking things. I like to call it the client management system, because it’s really the ying to Smart Flow’s yang.

So why do you need both? What features do you need one, but not the other, and when do you need both?

Whiteboards

Most EMR programs do have a whiteboard. However, often times this whiteboard is not sufficient: either too small, or too complicated, too uncustomizable and too hard to use. Smart Flow's is easy to use, easy to customize, easy to view and easy to change size of. Its whiteboard solves all of these concerns, and even more. You can use it in two ways, either as a timeline, or as a task based view to see what needs to be done in the clinic. So I would say you need Smart Flow to have a true, more efficient whiteboard.

Patient Creation

Patient creation is usually done on both systems. However, with our new Forms feature, you can ask clients to fill out customizable forms in Smart Flow, be it New Client forms, surgery consent forms or euthanasia forms, and this information can be saved in Smart Flow and manually copied by one of your staff into your EMR. Best thing is, since everything is typed you don’t have to decipher handwriting anymore! If you have an integrated EMR, such as Ezyvet or Avimark, to name a few, you can send patient information from your EMR to Smart Flow to create a patient in Smart Flow that way. So you do need both, however with Forms and integration, it’s not any extra work to do so.

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Flowsheets

I use Avimark in the emergency clinic I work in, and we have some sort of file saved in Avimark to print out the flowsheets that have the patient information at the top. These we then manually have to fill out, calculate, highlight, and repeat for every single patient. With Smart Flow, you can just use a template, and it does the rest for you. The patient is already created, so it will have all necessary information on there (even a picture!), so all you need to worry about is getting the flowsheet approved by a vet (or do the approving yourself) and get to treating!

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Billing

While billing is a big part of Smart Flow, as you need to choose what parameters you do, and do not bill for, it cannot actually do any of the financial processing. It creates a billing pdf for you, however, so at the end of your shift you can charge the patient’s file in your EMR. If you have an integrated EMR, you don’t need to worry about that, as Smart Flow will send charges over in real time. But you do need your EMR at the end of the day to manage the estimates, invoicing, and payments. As it’s a client interaction, it’s part of the client management system.

Anesthetic sheet

For anesthetic events, you can print out an anesthetic sheet from your EMR and the excel sheet with your different emergency drugs. Or, you could use Smart Flow's electronic anesthetic sheet. Hands down my favourite part of Smart Flow, and if you used it for yourself you'd understand exactly why. Check out this blog post HERE and read all about it. Another point for Smart Flow, *mic drop*. 

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Scheduling

Much like the billing, scheduling appointments is a client interaction. You need your EMR to schedule appointments, give you reminders, let you know who’s overdue for vaccines, tick treatments, food orders, and to let you know who’s coming in for what on that given day. However, what Smart Flow can do to help is show you where patients are located during their stay. You can place certain appointments in ‘rooms’ on your daily planner in many EMRs, but with Smart Flow, you can just add the room number in the custom field. Not only will you know what they’re in clinic for and where they’re located, but you’ll also know how long they have been waiting in the room for (aka when you need to hurry in there!). So you may need your EMR for a lot of scheduling, but at least Smart Flow can help with locating clients and ensuring you never forget one in a room (awkward!).

Medical Records

Smart Flow creates medical records as one of several pdfs it can make. It can create a billing, notes, flowsheet, medical record, anesthesia sheet and anesthetic record PDF, as well as any PDFs of forms that the client has filled out. Upon discharge, these files either get automatically attached to your EMR, or they are emailed to a dedicated email address. While these PDFs can get accessed again at any time in your archive, you need an EMR to be properly able to store the files in one place, rather than needing to search through Smart Flow’s history to see the medical records for all appointments, from puppy to senior visits for 12 year old Fluffy.

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This all being said, our field of work is all about finding the balance between patient management and care, and client management and care. With a patient management system and a client management system, where could you possibly go wrong?