Important Insights on Choosing 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.
Here are few things you should consider when selecting EMR software for your medical practice:
First off, you need to decide if you want to host both the hardware and the software yourself. 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 option is suitable for small practices where upfront costs are lower and IT responsibilities are fewer. 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, allowing another entity to manage your patient data comes with risks, so you need to clear out issues on data ownership and business continuity before you commit to any ASP.
Often, selecting a system for a small practice also typically begins with product demonstrations. Vendors may not be willing to submit to a formal RFP process when dealing with a small practice. You should have no less than five prospective systems for review. If you can, work with other doctors in your area. Consider an informal collaboration as it can make the selection process easier, not to mention provide leverage with vendors.
Whether you intend to go with it alone or with other practices, you need to set in place a selection system. This is the only way to ensure that you can evaluate the systems consistently, making effective apples-to-apples comparisons, and not being distracted by different vendors’ pitches.
A good way to begin is by gathering a team that will take charge of assessing your prospective systems. 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. To be able to study every feature and functionality meticulously and systematically, use an evaluation matrix or any other similar tool. This will also help guarantee that you will not miss any areas. Then compare the applications based on ease of use, workflow, and cost.
Finally, during product demos, make sure all staff are involved. Since everyone’s needs should be satisfied, you’d like to make them part of the evaluation process as much as possible. Don’t let the salesperson “drive” the product during a demo. Instead, use specific scenarios based on actual patient visits to know how the system really fits your workflow. This is the best understanding you can get of the system’s usefulness in your daily operations.