8 Lessons Learned: Programs

Valuable Insights for Practices Looking for Good Electronic Medical Records Software (EMR)

One of the key components of any successful medical practice is an effective software solution for managing electronic medical records (EMR). 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 things first, decide if you will be hosting both the software and the hardware. In exchange for a license, application service providers (ASPs) sell their software, which will be maintained on their own servers and accessed by users over the Internet. This is an appropriate option for small practices having fewer IT responsibilities and cheaper upfront costs to pay. Some ASPs offer systems that are locally hosted, meaning the server will be sited in your office and maintenance procedures will also be performed there. 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.

Typically, picking a system for a small practice also often begins with product demonstrations. Vendors may not want to undergo a formal RFP process with a small practice. You should have no less than five prospective systems for review. Work with other physicians in your area if you have the chance. Consider teaming up with them to simplify the process and even offer leverage with vendors too.

Whether you intend to go with it alone or with other practices, you need to set in place a selection system. This will let you focus on reviewing your options in a consistent manner, making appropriate comparisons, and warding off distractions from sales pitches.

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 make sure that you have covered every single area. Then compare the solutions in terms of workflow, ease of use, and cost.

Finally, during product demos, make sure all staff are involved. Because everyone’s needs must be satisfied, everyone should be part of the evaluation process too. During a demo, it’s not the salesperson who should be “driving” the product. Instead, use specific scenarios based on actual patient visits to know how the system really fits your workflow. This is the closest you can get to seeing how the system will likely be useful in your day-to-day operations.

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