Collecting EMR references has to be one of the underutilized methods of evaluating and selecting an EMR solution. If you cannot buy a laptop without asking around first, how would you want to get into a contract that spans over multiple years? Relying simply on what was promised is not a wise choice. User feedback can help physicians get a holistic view of the product along with the possibility of identifying various tips and tricks to better utilize such systems, particularly important for providers with no prior EMR usage experience.
Work can be split between staff members for better productivity and ideally physicians should participate with their administrative staff. This would help in establishing peer to peer level communication, allowing participants to gauge questions and responses better. While the practice may adopt multiple ways of communication, visiting the reference site in person or conversing over the phone may help in providing a more personalized outlook.
Another key is to not be limited to the contacts provided by the vendor. Physicians can find other practices by joining user communities or professional societies. Once you have established a reference sheet, the next step is preparing a questionnaire.
The most important questions to include in this questionnaire are:
- How long has the practice been using the EMR solution?
- How long did it take for the implementation to complete?
- How was the implementation experience?
- How long was the training process?
- Were the allocated training hours adequate?
- Did the application appear to be as easy as seen in the demonstration?
- How much of the annotation process is templates driven?
- Has the documentation process improved since implementation?
- How many patients were seen in a day before and after the implementation?
- How would they rate the quality of the exam note? Pre and Post implementation.
- Has the use of paper charts been completely eliminated?
- Did they consider or use scribes? If yes, what about the cost and quality?
- How would they rate their overall experience? And would they recommend the EMR to another practice?
Although this list is not by any mean exhaustive, but by asking the above questions most physicians will be able to gauge how suitable the EMR would be for their practice.