8 ways providers can improve the HIT selection process

Picking new information technology can be fraught with peril, and IT buyers must move warily.

8 ways providers can improve the HIT selection process

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is offering tips to providers and health information technology implementers when they’re in the process of selecting a new electronic health records system or upgrading an existing EHR.

Providers wanting free advice to aid in their new selection and implementation processes can scroll down to a particular section of the guidance, “EHR Demonstration Scenario, Evaluation and Vendor Questions,” for 8 specific tips on scheduling vendor demonstrations.

Pick the vendors

Expect to hold demonstrations with five to 10 different vendors. Fewer than five means the organization won’t get enough of a feel of the functionality that’s available in the market. With 10 vendors, it’s difficult to recall subtle differences between them. If not satisfied with what’s been seen, demo with another group of vendors.

Prepare for the demo

When the vendor contacts the organization to set up a time to demo, make clear the specific products the provider wants to see, such as either a standalone EHR or the EHR paired with the practice management system.

Onsite or web-based?

The vendor likely will offer an on-site or web-based demo, so the organization may need a room with access to the Internet and a large computer screen, at minimum. Ask the vendor in advance what equipment will be needed.

Choose the audience

The physician champion and practice manager should attend the demo, along with staff. Participants should include the entire implementation team, practicing physicians and nurses, and other care team members.


Ask each vendor the same questions to see how they compare, and have the vendor prepared to have specific clinical scenarios or workflows to walk through to see the EHR in action. Have the vendor show how certain reporting tasks would be accomplished, such as how an application reports on patients with particular diseases, medications or labs. The demo likely will last 90 minutes or so.

Quiet, please

Refrain from interrupting the vendor too often during the demo, as the vendor needs to pace the presentation within the time frame. Write questions during the demo and ask afterward. If providers want to see a particular function all the way through, ask questions at the end.


Request references from each of the serious contenders of existing clients using the product. Schedule phone call interviews with their customers to get a better idea of the experiences they had.


Enter contract negotiations with at least two vendors to provide the leverage to get the best deal. For these last vendors, request references for existing customers that will agree to host a site visit. These may or not be the same customers contacted earlier via telephone interviews.

More Information

The complete guidance document from CMS is available here. .

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