Important Insights on Choosing Electronic Medical Records Software (EMR)
One of the key components of any successful medical practice is an effective software solution for managing electronic medical records (EMR). While it’s good news that are so many versions of this application today, the variety tends to make choosing harder. But it does get easier with a few helpful insights in mind.
The following are considerations for you to make as you choose EMR software for your medical practice:
First things first, decide if you will be hosting both the software and the hardware. In exchange for a license, application service providers (ASPs) sell their software, which will be maintained on their own servers and accessed by users over the Internet. This is a suitable option for small practices with low upfront costs and less IT responsibilities. With some ASPs, hosting may be local, meaning the server will be located in your office and maintenance tasks will be performed there as well. In any case, there are risks involved when you permit another entity to handle your patient data, so you have to resolve concerns on data ownership and business continuity first before finalizing any deal.
Often, selecting a system for a small practice also typically begins with product demonstrations. Vendors may not want to undergo a formal RFP process with a small practice. You need at least five potential systems for your review. If you can, work with other doctors in your area. Consider teaming up with them to simplify the process and even offer leverage with vendors too.
Whether you plan to go alone or not, it’s important to follow an established selection system. This is the only way to ensure that you can evaluate the systems consistently, making effective apples-to-apples comparisons, and not being distracted by different vendors’ pitches.
A good way to start is by assigning a selection team that will be in-charge of reviewing your prospective systems. Be sure to have at least one representative from all affected departments in this group. Then write down a list of questions to be asked as every candidate EMR software is put on the table. Using an evaluation matrix or any other similar tool can help you analyze every feature and functionality. This will also help guarantee that you will not miss any areas. Then compare the programs based on three general criteria – workflow, ease of use, and cost.
Finally, during product demos, make sure all staff are involved. Everyone’s needs must be met, so as much as possible, they must be part of the evaluation process. During a demo, it’s not the salesperson who should be “driving” the product. Instead, make use of actual and specific scenarios of patient visits so you know how compatible the system is with your workflow. This is the best grasp you can have of how the system will be useful in your everyday operations.