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EHR selection strategies: Choosing the best partner for your practice

Insight Article - September 13, 2016

Electronic Health Records

Derek Kosiorek CPEHR, CPHIT

Your relationship with your EHR vendor is like a marriage. With the right partner, life is great. On the other hand, a relationship that is not based on trust, communication and a long-term commitment can negatively affect every part of your existence.

Selecting the right vendor can be overwhelming. Who should you talk with? How should you conduct your research? What process will get you to the best possible software? These are basic questions that are unfortunately very difficult to answer, so here are some tips that may help you make your next big commitment. 
Google will not help. 
Sorry, there is no Consumer Reports equivalent for EHRs. Reliable, unbiased advice is rare and very difficult to find. Navigating through internet search engines will make you cross-eyed because most links go back to the vendors themselves or to useless lists that provide little more than vendor contact information.

Some paid services offer comparisons, but before you read them, consider the source. Some are based on vendor-reported information while others rely on feedback from system users. It’s easy for an independent body to buy and test vacuums, but EHRs? It’s nearly impossible.

To get honest feedback, I usually rely on forums such as the MGMA Member Community, which includes discussion groups such as the MGMA EHR Community and MGMA Information Management Network.

Make sure the vendor is in it for the long term. 
This is a volatile market. EHR vendors often get purchased, leaving their software to be supported and developed by a company that is already supporting another product (or six products, in the case of one large vendor). (The cynical side of me is convinced that some vendors got into the market for no other purpose than to be bought out.) Make sure you select a vendor that commits to being part of your life for at least five years.

Consider a cloud-based, remotely hosted system. 
There are many advantages to moving to a hosted system, including improved access and security, monthly rather than one-time costs, and streamlined upgrades. But the biggest advantage is that this is the direction in which all software development is moving. Programmers in every industry are now developing applications that run in a web browser, without the need to be installed on a computer and agnostic of Mac or PC. At least two of your system demonstrations should be from cloud-based vendors so you can compare and contrast your options.

Selecting the right EHR partner is incredibly important, so the due diligence that you undertake in finding the right one will pay off in the end. 

Learn more about MGMA Consulting

About the Author

Derek Kosiorek
Derek Kosiorek CPEHR, CPHIT
Principal Consultant MGMA Consulting

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