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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). While it’s good news that are so many versions of this application today, the variety tends to make choosing harder. But it does get easier with a few helpful insights in mind.

The following are considerations for you to make as you choose 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 is a suitable option for small practices with low upfront costs and less IT responsibilities. With some ASPs, hosting may be local, meaning the server will be located in your office and maintenance tasks will be performed there as well. 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.

Usually, choosing a system for a small practice usually starts 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. Work with other local doctors if possible. Consider collaborating with them to ease the choosing process and even provide leverage with the vendors.

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.

A good way to begin is by gathering a team that will take charge of assessing your prospective systems. Ensure that all departments that will use the system – from medical records to IT to quality improvement and the others – are well-represented in this group. Then write down a list of questions to be asked as every candidate EMR software is put on the table. 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, all staff should be involved in product demos. Since everyone’s needs should be satisfied, you’d like to make them part of the evaluation process as much as possible. The salesperson shouldn’t be the one to “drive” the product during a demo. Instead, use real patient visit scenarios so you can gauge the compatibility of the system to your workflow. This is the best grasp you can have of how the system will be useful in your everyday operations.

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