Important Insights on Choosing Electronic Medical Records Software (EMR)
One of the most crucial requirements of a successful medical practice is an efficient electronic medical records (EMR) software solution. Although there are benefits to having a huge variety of these applications today, the variety makes it harder to choose. But it can get easier with a few important insights in mind.
Below are considerations you should make prior to choosing EMR software for your medical practice:
First of all, decide if the software and the hardware will both be hosted by you. Application service providers (ASPs) have their own servers on which they maintain software they license out, which can be accessed by users via the Internet. This option is suitable for small practices where upfront costs are lower and IT responsibilities are fewer. Some ASPs provide locally hosted systems, which means the server will be placed in your office and maintenance will be performed there too. 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.
Usually, choosing a system for a small practice usually starts with product demonstrations. Vendors may not be willing to submit to a formal RFP process when dealing 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 collaborating with them to ease the choosing process and even provide leverage with the vendors.
Whether or not you plan to go solo, you have to establish a selection system. This way, you can ensure consistency as you evaluate your options, make appropriate comparisons, and avoid distraction from pitching vendors.
Creating a selection team to review your potential systems is a good beginning. Make sure the group is composed of at least one representative from each department that will be using the system, such as quality improvement, nursing, billing, IT, and the rest. Then create a list of questions to be asked while reviewing every candidate EMR software. 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, all staff should be involved in product demos. Because everyone’s needs must be satisfied, everyone should be part of the evaluation process too. The salesperson shouldn’t be the one to “drive” the product during a demo. 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.