The health IT market is flooded with government certified EHRs to meet the Meaningful Use program. The task is to find out the right medical vendor that fulfills practice requirements. This is particularly difficult for small to medium practices, as it appears vendors pay more attention to providing flawless services to large practices. According to Black Book Rankings 2014 Survey, practices having 25 or more physicians are more satisfied with vendor customer support than practices catering to small/medium groups.(2-5, 6-25). Among the respondents, 90.2% of physicians from large practices reported satisfaction with their vendors as compared to 72.5% of physicians from small or medium sized practices.
One of the major reasons is the vendor resources that do not allow them to give proper attention to small practices. Health IT is a competitive market where large practices and hospitals are major buyers of technology. They drive the health IT market by creating technology demand for huge infrastructures. With sufficient financial backup to implement an EHR system, they partner with vendors for a long period. Similarly, vendors prefer to utilize their limited resources on big projects that promise maximum revenue. By doing so, they usually miss the opportunity to create loyal customers among small practices and provide most of their customer support to physicians in large practices, as highlighted by the Black Book Rankings 2014
Another reason for dissatisfaction among small practices is related to their efforts in vendor search and implementation of EHR. It’s fair to suggest that part of the blame is on the physicians with small practices. Instead of conducting a thorough research of the market, they rush into buying the first EHR they come across [EHR buyer tips]. On the contrary, large practices take their time in understanding the market, the products they offer, strengths and reputation of vendors and demands of their practice before selecting the right vendor. For them, it’s a business partnership that can only work when the vendor fulfills its side of bargain with impeccable technology and customer support.
However, one cannot blame small practices entirely for lack of customer support on the vendor’s part. Ideally, it’s the vendor’s responsibility to provide customer support during the implementation and post implementation phase of EHR. Before signing a contract with a new practice, vendors should make analysis of their available resources and capabilities, so that the customer does not have to suffer in the long run.
Why would you need a new EHR system? The question arises because of certain reasons; one possible reason could be your continued dissatisfaction with your current EHR system/vendor. The other and as good a reason as the first one is, your current EHR vendor isn’t providing the package you need.
EHR vendors have increased manifold in the past couple of years. This happened because of the initiative taken by President Obama to introduce Obamacare: a program to encourage healthcare uninsured people to register for insurance plans to improve healthcare system and to promote providers to use electronic health recoding technology.
Meaningful Use standards: Your software should meet the criteria in Meaningful Use. You may need to replace your system because your vendor may not be compliant with Meaningful Use standards. The framework is arduous to remember and the only thing you are relying on is your software, so buy a system that is up-to-date with Meaningful Use compliances.
Fast Processor: Do you want slow, clunky, and choppy software that slows down your system? The answer should be a big NO! So, what you need to is a big RESEARCH! But you can obviously hire a consultant that will do the job for you. Always remember you are choosing the EHR system that does work for you, that smoothes out the work flow of your business, whether clinical or operational. Try few software before buying one, free demos are your best option. Ultimately, choose a one that you feel intuitive. Salesman is always there to draw you in the software, take your time, don’t rush into buying anything. You need a fast system that produces results or does what you ask the machine to do. Too many clicks and still you are stuck on step one, is no good. The basic functions should be fast and efficient to perform.
Final advice: choose EHR vendor that has a strong financial backing. It will give you some surety that the company will be responsible for their actions, and in case of loss will compensate for the loss. And do try out those new Mobile EHR apps that may serve your purpose and may end up choosing Mobile EHR that is iPad-compliant!
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.