Narrowing down your EHR options

Adopting an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system is no longer an option, but an obligation. If your practice does not do so, you’ll be subject to penalties that will increase as time progresses.

Additionally, you will be deprived of the incentive payments that many of your competitors are benefiting from. However, with several hundred EHR vendors to select from, you require an EHR pricing and vendor comparison to make the right decision.

While the most important component of most decisions is price and costing, you still must develop an initial plan to determine which EHR vendor is appropriate including the how-much-will-it-cost-me component.

First you need to limit the number of vendors on your option base. For doing so, you will first need to identify several vendors based on your personal knowledge, market research and on recommendations of other physicians.

Look at the software and hardware their systems require. For example, a server-based system will require more hardware. Additionally, many of the leading vendors have EHR solutions that do not require installable software and can be accessed via internet. So first, you need to be sure of the solution you require.

Once this comparison is done, you should narrow down your options by a more specific EHR software assessment. In this, you’ll analyze specific features that you require in your EHR. Which vendor is ready for ICD-10 and Meaningful Use Stage 2 certified, for example. Also do some research on other services offered by these vendors; common techniques for this are via rating and review websites, asking other healthcare professionals and by visiting the vendors’ websites. For example how efficient their customer service is and if they have integrated systems (if you require practice management solutions as well).

Now with your options even more limited, conduct an EHR pricing comparison to determine which vendor has solutions that meet your budget. During this stage, include all costs such as those needed for the implementation, average staff training costs and any potential cost that you can think of.

6 Steps for Choosing the Right EHR Vendor

While switching to an EHR from a paper-based record system is a no-brainer, selecting the right Electronic Health Record (EHR) software for your practice is not an easy decision to make. The EHR market is saturated with options, with several vendors competing to provide the best EHR features and functionality. The top vendors now come integrated with other management systems, like Patient Portal and Practice Management. Many also offer advanced add-on features, like claim scrubbing and inventory management.

Since the EHR will have a major impact on your future workflows, it is imperative that you choose the right software that efficiently serves your specialty needs. Carefully research the health IT market and make EHR vendor comparison to make an informed decision.

Carrying Out EHR Vendor Assessment

It is essential that you go follow a thorough selection process, not only according to the features offered by an EHR but also keeping in mind whether it provides exactly what your practice needs.

1. Determine Your Practice Needs

In order to be able to find the best EHR for your practice, you must successfully identify your needs. This is because even the highest-rated EHR with the widest range of features may be a poor decision if it doesn’t suit the needs if your practice; you would merely be paying too much and getting too little in return.

Identify the EHR features that your practice needs. For example, if you are migrating from another EHR, an important feature you probably need is affordable and effective data migration. On the other hand, if this is your first EHR, you won’t have to worry about digital data transfer but may need to ensure that your chosen system has features like online appointments and text alerts. Remember that the best EHR is the one that specifically suits your practice.

2. Understand the Difference Between EMR and EHR

First-time EHR users often make the mistake of purchasing an EMR instead. This is because the terms EMR and EHR are often used interchangeably in the medical industry, even though they differ in functionality. Primarily, an EMR is merely a digitized version of patient charts. An EHR, on the other hand, is a more comprehensive system that records detailed data, provides analytics and helps treatment planning. Perhaps the defining difference is interoperability; data in an EMR is limited within one practice, while an EHR travels with the patient and can be shared between providers and practices.

Thoroughly understand EMR vs. EHR before you make the decision to purchase one.

3. Know Important EHR Features

While the EHR you purchase will depend on your needs, there are some primary features all practices and specialties should keep in mind while browsing top EHR vendors. Consider the following questions:

  • Do I want a cloud-based or a server-based system?
  • What is my budget?
  • Is this EHR easy to use for me and my clinical staff?
  • Is the implementation and training feasible?
  • Does it offer integration with other programs I might need?
  • Does it offer the required customizability?
  • Is the customer service fast and reliable?
  • Does it offer free and regular updates?
  • Is it MU and MIPS certified?
  • Are the current users of the EHR satisfied?

4. Set Realistic and Measurable Goals

Set the goals that you want your practice to achieve following the implementation of an EHR system. For example, you may want to grow your patient base by a certain number, or you may be looking to improve your cash flow. Regardless of the nature of the objectives, follow the SMART goal setting process. Your goals should be:

          * Specific
          * Measurable
          * Attainable
          * Relevant
          * Timely

5. Carry out EHR Vendor Comparison

Carry out EHR vendor comparison based on the analysis of your practice. During this phase, carry out EHR price comparison, analyze features of the software, and research on the support services of the vendor.

6. Contact Potential EHR Vendors

Once you have completed the research at your end, contact the vendors that you have narrowed down. Ask them to provide you with complete information about their profile, product, and services. Share your practice needs with them and request a demo, so that you know what you are buying. Additionally, don’t forget to verify the references they provide you with. Enter a binding contract only once you are satisfied with all aspects of the promised service.

Meaningful Use criteria for Eligible Professionals (EPs)

In order to avail government incentives for Meaningful Use program, eligible professionals (EPs) would have to demonstrate that they have been using their electronic health records (EHRs) according to the criteria of meaningful use program. Physicians would have to successfully attest to the program in order to qualify for government incentives program, administered by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

EPs who have just adopted EHRs would not have to attest for meaningful use program in their first year of implementation, but without later attestation they won’t be eligible for government incentives.

Meaningful Use criteria

The first criterion to fulfill in order to achieve meaningful use is to adopt a government certified EHR system. The certified software should be interoperable and have ICD-10 coding system. The software should have a patient portal to engage patients for informed and improved healthcare. This is required under the Medicare EHR Incentive Programs, which is run under by the CMS.

The objectives and criteria for the meaningful use program have been divided into three different stages that will span over five years period. The objectives are further divided into core and menu, of which core objectives should be fulfilled. However, there is option for EPs to meet any criteria in the menu set.

In meaningful use stage 1, EPs should have certified EHRs, use it to record clinical and non-clinical data of patients, share information with necessary stakeholders and patients. The meaningful use stage 2  [whitepaper] requires EPs to be more rigorous about health information data, while the third stage focuses on the efficiency and quality of data shared and improved patient care.

Four simple techniques for attracting new patients to your practice

While market visibility, credibility and building relationships are imperative for attracting new patients towards your medical practice, you can do so even without an extravagant advertisement budget.
These five extremely simple, inexpensive techniques will exponentially enhance your practice’s potential patient reach and lead to an influx of new clients.EHRss

1. Brand identity
Brand message, goal and inexpensive marketing

A distinct and clear brand identity will distinguish a physician’s practice from his competition by building trust and loyalty between him and his patients.

First, you need to determine your brand identity. Your ideal patient? Why would he come to you? Do people instantly think of your practice in situations where your services are required?

This brand identity needs to be associated with a goal, one reflected on every marketable item that represents your practice. Every medical pad, stationery item, appointment card and online source (your website, Facebook page, etc) should bear your brand name and logo. Your brand message could be a catchphrase, a logo or even a word, but it needs to be an image people instantly start to associate your practice with.

2. The Internet: Broaden your horizons.
Facebook, Twitter, your website, review sites and blogs

Publish your contact details, brand message and other essentials along with a few pictures of your practice on your website. If you do not have a website, interaction with patients is still possible via patient portals that Electronic Health Record (EHR) software provide.

Additionally, review and rating websites are another way for potential clients to gauge your practice’s credibility, and in negative cases shift elsewhere. So you need to look at what patients have to say about you there and reply accordingly. You can receive e-mail notifications whenever someone comments regarding your practice. Dedicate 5-10 minutes of your time to such pages.

Social media
A survey in 2010 revealed that 43% of US citizens are Facebook users. With the figures exponentially rising, Facebook, Twitter and other social media websites are a great avenue to market your practice. When scores of people are communicating on such portals on a day-to-day basis, why shouldn’t a portion of them talk about you?

Make sure you are present on these mediums for both existing patients to review on and for potential patients to read up on. Managing accounts is free and if you designate just a few minutes per day to comment on reviews, post health-related articles and videos and make your presence felt in general, you will definitely see new patients come to you.

3. Keeping existing patients onboard
Reminders, alerts, birthday greetings

Referrals via word of mouth hold a significant place in bringing more patients to a practice. Patient satisfaction with your practice does not mean they are not neglected. If they feel distanced from your practice, they might shift elsewhere. Many physicians have started using technology to ensure their patients stay happy. Simple Electronic Health Record (EHR) software sends patients automated reminders and alerts. Moreover, this simple technology has services such as patient portals which allow patients to communicate with their physicians and even incorporate the transfer of reports, x-ray scans and such information.

4. Education and the community
Health seminars, charity workshops, online blogs, open house sessions

The caring doctor
Have you organized a two-day mobile clinic for the underprivileged or attended your town’s annual health seminar? Ever visited your son’s school on career day? Try doing something of the sort and become the talk of the town. Give something back to the community and consequently enhance your client base.

The educational resource
The country’s growing concern about staying healthy, eating healthy, and being healthy in general means that both existing and potential patients are extremely likely to appreciate health-related articles, videos and information on your website or blog. If you do not have a webpage, you can always use EHR technology which facilitates patient portals to educate your patients. Informative e-mails, health seminar invites and open house sessions are other simple ways to promote your practice.


Technology and healthcare delivery: a match made in heaven?

From the earliest evidence of tool usage 2.5 million years ago, to the invention of the wheel in 4,000 B.C. and more recently to nuclear power, computers and mobile phones, the evolution of both humans and technology has been phenomenal to say the least.

The healthcare industry has been no outsider to this evolution, and the current era is witnessing revolutionary transformations which are exponentially enhancing the efficiency, safety and quality of care delivery.EHRss

From providers to patients, from physician assistants to nurses, the entire care delivery team has seen even the most basic of processes made simpler by Health IT solutions including Electronic Health Records (EHRs), Practice Management (PM), Medical Billing and Patient Portals.

This article will give an insight on how technology can improve the management of your practice and subsequently enhance the value of patient care.

Automating your practice

The clinical procedures of your practice will be made easier, safer and quicker via EHR software.

With each patient’s entire medical records stored on this safe, online source, you will be able to make more informed decisions in the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up stages, with a lower probability of errors.

For example, if a patient is allergic to a specific herb, it will show up on your screen and you will not prescribe him a medicine with that particular herb. Previously, with piles of patient information stored on large paper files, such an observation could have easily been overlooked.

Moreover, repetitive tests and duplicate entries will fall to almost nil with the easy-to-use interface of these systems.

Digitizing your staff

Digitizing basic patient information, demographics, diagnosis and treatment is important but it is equally important to introduce integrated Practice Management (PM) software to your practice. Why, you probably think. The reason is that PM facilitates the smooth running of your practice’s daily operations, with important processes such as billing and scheduling managed by PM solutions.

With services including enterprise scheduling, document management, automatic insurance verification and financial aging reports your staff’s efficiency and productivity will rise. You will have online access to your practice’s operations and this will help decrease operating expenses and speed up the revenue collection process.

Mobilizing your clinic

Imagine having your clinical and management information with you while at a health conference in Manchester. You can supervise and manage these processes by sending important instructions to patients, staff, hospitals and labs from there.

Wherever you go, you’ll be in complete control of your practice, and ensure that the care delivery keeps at an optimal.

Connecting with patients

Your pager must be swamped with patient messages, some of them concerning their condition while others regarding simple health information. Using a patient portal, you can give qualified staff personnel certain access to answer some of these queries so that you can focus on the more technical ones.

Additionally, you can use these portals to send lab results, reports and reminders to your patients online. There are e-Labs in HIT systems by which you can send both orders and results online, which will save valuable time for all parties concerned. This saves time for both doctor and patient, and additionally lowers the number of visits a patient has to make to a practice.


Interoperability is a term growing in importance within the healthcare industry. Sending and receiving reports to labs, prescription orders to your patient’s pharmacy and patient information to a hospital in another state where he/she needs immediate treatment, all of this and a lot more is possible with this integrated software.

Through the use of technology, HIT in particular, the clinical and operational processes of your practice will be streamlined and will indirectly and directly help achieve the golden goal; that of optimal care delivery.