SEP 25, 2013 9:55am ET

3 Essentials for Selecting Your Next EMR

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So you are in the market for a new EMR and you quickly realize that there are hundreds of companies in this market. How do you choose? How can you identify which company and EMR will be the right match for your organization? What are the key factors you should be taking into consideration when approaching these companies? Let’s talk about a few things to consider:

Number 1: Look in the Mirror

Knowing and understanding your staff and how your practice operates is the critical first step. How large is your organization and are you owned by or affiliated with a health system or hospital? What is your medical specialty or are you a multispecialty clinic? Do you prefer having your billing staff complete your financial operations or are you comfortable outsourcing those to another company? Taking a good look in the mirror and intricately understanding how you operate is key to finding the right EMR system and company. Before diving into the EMR market, look in the mirror.

Number 2: Think about a Partnership, Not Just a Product

Another crucial thing to understand is that an EMR system is not simply something that is dropped off at your doorstep. It brings with it a partnership between your organization and the EMR vendor. This partnership begins with your initial communication with the vendor and will continue for years to come through the purchase, implementation and installation, training, product upgrades, and continued maintenance and support. Take the time to get to know the company’s staff and culture and ensure that you are comfortable establishing a long-term partnership. Remember, you will be acquiring a partnership, not just a product.

Number 3: Understanding the EMR and the Technology

The EMR and technology are the next big considerations. Be sure to ask questions about workflow adaptability, template customization, and content. Take the appropriate time to see the EMR in use and to talk with other practices that have it. Ensuring that the EMR system will adapt to your needs and to the way your organization operates will create a much greater possibility of long-term success. Most EMR vendors also offer a practice management (billing, scheduling, etc.) system as well. So if having a practice management and EMR system from one company is important to you, be sure to ask about this. From a technology-deployment standpoint, there are two basic models: client server (C/S) and remote hosted. In short, C/S means that the server and product are locally housed within the four walls of your organization. The remote hosted model means that a third-party company (typically the EMR vendor) houses and maintains the server and your organization accesses the EMR system via the Internet. Understanding your comfort level with and the pros and cons of both models will help you make the right decision.

The quest for the right EMR can be tedious and grueling. But the investment of time and energy on the front end to understanding the market, companies, and EMRs can pay large dividends in the long run.

For more information on EMR vendors and to hear form your peers, check out the KLAS report, 2013 Ambulatory EMR Performance (1-10 Physicians): The Quest for Value Amid Rising Expectations.  

Do you want to share your EMR experiences? Fill out a KLAS evaluation.

By Eric Bermudez at KLAS, a health care I.T. research firm.

Comments (1)
Looking in the mirror to assess your current clinic workflow is a great first step. Remember to also look at the way that you enter your clinical notes. Are the key care providers keyboard-savvy? Will they type in their own notes? Use templates or forms? Touch screen or digitizer pen? Use dictation / transcription services in house or using a third party. Be sure to test drive this in the system that you consider - a real office location who works the same way that you do. Remember to view the final product - how you can import your letterhead, meet your expectations for word-processing appearances, and exporting to fax or print for post.

Automation can be a great tool. This could be a great opportunity to improve your office workflow before you add automation. Don't automate poor practices.

Posted by Jean E | Sunday, September 29 2013 at 1:31PM ET
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