Study after study has confirmed what we already know: the relationship between you and your EHR may not be hearts and flowers.
About half of physicians are dissatisfied with their EHR, according to a recent survey. A survey of ophthalmic practice managers earlier this year also reported declining satisfaction with EHR systems.
You can avoid such dissatisfaction if you shop carefully for an EHR that’s customized for your practice, says Jay Lodhia, founder of MDOffice and now practice management consultant specializing in eye care. When you shop for software or upgrades, beware any vendor’s one-size-fits-all approach, he stresses.
To sort the wheat from the chaff when sizing up vendors for further consideration, Lodhia recommends two early steps: If you are a member of an association like AAO, ASCRS, ASOA, or AOA, look at a recent member survey evaluating of EHR vendors. Your peers tell it like it is. (Want more hints on how to find the best software? Check out this article.)
During initial interactions with each vendor, ask yourself, “How well does the vendor anticipate my concerns?” Make sure you cover all the bases as you zoom in on your short list of vendors. The tool below, as well as this EHR compliance checklist, should help you make a purchase decision you won’t regret.
Tip: Don’t forget your optical shop (if you have one) when sizing up your EHR options.
Is the software highly customizable? What kind of reports can I run?
Does the software have a tiered support system and a ticketing system so we can get any help we need after purchase?
Can my staff and I choose how we want to get technical support—phone, web, or live chat?
Tip: If you plan to use phone support, call the vendors site at different times of the day to ensure they will be there for you.
Is the software available either as a local installation or in a cloud environment—whichever works best for my practice?
Does the vendor charge extra to set up additional providers or workstations after installation?
Do I get a fully functional sandbox of the free trial software that my practice can test before we make the purchase?
Does the software integrate with diagnostic equipment such as auto refractors, photopters, VF units, and cameras. How about digital measuring devices such as M’Eye Fit, Visioffice, iTerminal, and Optikam?
How can the system help our practice meet PQRS requirements and avoid Medicare reimbursement penalties?
Does it interface with IRIS (ophthalmology)?
What are your plans for MORE (optometry)?
What have you done to ensure my practice remains privacy and security compliant?
Does the software offer built-in patient engagement with online portal, voice, email, and text messaging features?
Is the online patient portal completely free to setup and use?
Does the software allow quick order creation, lab submission, and check-out all on one screen so that my staff and I don’t spend our days toggling aimlessly?
Does the software automatically calculate insurance charges for my patients on vision care plans?
Does the software support contact lens and spectacle lens inventories, complete with procedure codes?
Do the software have electronic signature capture capability so my practice can office be truly paperless, once and for all?
Does the software have a free document manager that allows us to scan and store paper records?
And, if you have a multi-location practice … How does the software handle scheduling, billing, and optical shop inventory management across multiple locations?
*Adapted from Jay Lodia’s advice and a checklist created by Michelle Stone and Nichol Wills of My Vision Express. Nichol is a licensed optician with current ABO and NCLE certs. Nichol began her career as an optical manager with a leading retailer has also managed multi-location private opticals. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.