Selecting the right electronic health record (EHR) software is no small feat, especially for small practices that often have budget and resource constraints.
Although EHR software is intended to help you improve quality of care, streamline clinical reporting, and enhance care coordination, choosing the right EHR software is essential for reaping these benefits. And, with hundreds of vendors offering EHR systems, cherry-picking the right system can be a difficult decision. Follow these tips to choose the best EHR software for your practice.
How to choose an EHR System?
While different providers might have different EHR selection criteria depending on their unique needs and business goals, we think these six factors should rank highest when evaluating the EHR software.
While the initial investment must fit into your budget, there are also long-term costs associated with EHRs that must be considered. Typically, the prices of EHR systems vary based on the vendor, features you choose to include, and the number of providers or users in a facility. When requesting an estimate, find out about the licensing fees, initial activation costs, and how much each additional feature, such as a practice management system, will add to the cost. Usually, for smaller practices, the price is based on a monthly subscription fee multiplied by the number of users. However, pricing can fluctuate based on the specifics of individual practice, system, and vendor. Also, when assessing costs, don’t forget to calculate return on investment (ROI).
Ease-of-use is what makes a good EHR system. If the system isn’t user friendly, it can bring your entire workflow to a grinding halt as your staff struggles to accomplish routine tasks. Most vendors offer live demonstrations or free trials of their systems to potential buyers. Make sure to take advantage of these options to evaluate whether the system would increase or hamper your staff’s productivity. Remember, your employees will use this system for hours every day, so you don’t want one that will add hours to their workload.
The ability to customize the workflow of an EHR system is crucial for success. Every practice has different workflows, and there is no one-size-fits-all system. Providers may want to talk with vendors about the various customization options and how the system can be altered to suit their needs. However, the modifications should not compromise security standards. You can take real case scenarios to potential vendors and ask them to demonstrate how the system can be adapted to optimize productivity in real-life situations.
Being cloud-based means, you can access your data anytime, anywhere. The key benefits of using cloud-based EHR are cost, scalability, anytime, anywhere access, and data security. Most of the EHR software companies offer cloud-based hosting options, which means there are no servers or hardware in your office other than your computers. As a provider, you can go on and focus on patients, and your vendor will take care of the software and hardware. For small practices, we would recommend you to opt for a cloud-based EHR system unless you have a specific reason to host servers and hardware onsite.
EHR implementation may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, so it’s crucial to know your vendor’s plan to get your system up and running. Some vendors offer onsite training to make sure everyone in your practice is up to speed and on the same page. Some vendors also provide access to live training sessions for a limited time after the implementation. Ask the potential vendor about the quality and amount of training, and whether the training will be conducted onsite or via online sessions.
Most of the best EHR systems for hospitals offer features like electronically ordering laboratory tests. However, not every lab will be configured to interface with every EHR software. To ensure interoperability, which is a crucial focus of the Meaningful Use Stage III guidelines, talk to shortlisted vendors about the interfaces they employ and whether or not those are compatible with the local facilities in your area. Many vendors are open to including additional integrations upon request, so find out if this is an option and if the cost would be included in your subscription fees.
Need help finding the best EHR software for your practice?
Our two cents – do not rush. The entire process of EHR selection and implementation requires research, time, and planning. Our experience says for a small practitioner, adopting a new EHR system takes about 12 to 18 months. This timeframe can be longer in big hospitals with multiple users, as there will be a greater number of modifications, design changes, and templates to be made. Dedicating sufficient time and planning is crucial to success.