EMR adoption has risen significantly over the last few years. With the development of Cloud based solutions, smaller practices can now afford to automate their practice workflows without upsetting the cash flows. However as the adoption rate has grown steadily, the market has also seen a proportionate increase in the supply, with nearly 500 vendors in the market today. There is a lot to choose from and this is normally considered as a positive because this balance between consumer and supplier powers are creates an efficient market. It is interesting to point out that the EMR market is relatively young and most would be willing to wait for the shakeout.
EMR should ideally be a one off investment, as it carries high switching costs along with a considerable implementation time. A provider just can’t afford to spend months and switch afterwards to repeat the process again. The whole point of digitalizing clinical and administrative workflows is to enhance the quality and productivity in healthcare, instead of hampering it.
Many providers feel that their EMR does not add value to their practice. However, most of this dissatisfaction stems from the after sales value rather than the product itself. Most vendors try to appeal to masses, making rigid systems focusing on functionality instead of usability. While generic products may work for most professions, medical practitioners require specialist products, preferably with room for customization and personalization to allow optimum utilization of practice resources.
Two of the major components of the after sales EMR services are training and support. Vendors and providers often prefer offsite training as it is cost effective, easier to conduct and does not disrupt the practice routine. Desktop sharing and remote desktop connections allow vendors to simulate a training environment. However, most training sessions target basic functionality and are usually one off despite the complexity of the application. However, some of the leading vendors are focused on their training and support operations and differ by providing detailed on-going trainings through webinars, weekly practice performance reviews and analysis.
Minimal on-going EMR training can be frustrating for providers once the system goes live. Add below par support to the equation and they’d be willing to even shift back to paper. Good customer support can make up for a lot of short comings within the application. While I am not suggesting vendors to focus on support alone; it should definitely be given its due importance especially with SaaS model EHR.
Some vendors with the highest retention rate in the market, usually edge out other products merely because of their quality support and maintenance. As the initial appeal of any system wears off after implementation; expert training, on-going assistance and support from the vendor becomes the key for user satisfaction and retention.