Should You Switch Your EHR? Here’s How To Tell

Do you hate your eye care practice’s EHR?

Do you hate it so much you’re tempted to bite the bullet and spend the considerable time and money to trade it in for a new model?

If this sounds like you and your practice, you’re not alone. EHR replacements are on the rise, says Heather Haugen, a University of Colorado Health Informatics professor. “We are now seeing almost as much replacement as we are seeing new installs,” she told attendees at HIMSS 2016.

In 2015, the number of clinicians replacing their EHRs increased 59 percent from the previous year, according to research conducted by Software Advice, a Gartner company. Nearly one-quarter of replacement EHR buyers surveyed said their current EHR was “cumbersome and faulty.” User complaints sound all-too-familiar: “takes tons of clicks to get through,” “is not intuitive,” and “keeps crashing,” to name just a few.

It’s Not Your EHR. It’s You?

Before you rush into a new EHR relationship, you need to take a good, hard look at what’s wrong with your old one, Haugen cautions. In one survey of physicians who’d switched EHRs, only 43 percent said they were glad they made the switch, according to a journal article published last year. Stats like these indicate it’s often not the EHR itself that’s the problem, but the practice’s failure to truly adopt it. True adoption happens only when everyone in your practice uses your EHR’s full functionality according to prescribed best practices, experts stress.

EHR implementation is like a wedding, a splashy event full of the promise of what’s to come, Haugen explains. EHR adoption is more like a marriage, a process that takes day-to-day diligence to make your long-term commitment work well. Like giddy brides and grooms, all too many practices focus on the implementation event, not the ongoing process of adoption. This “go-live myopia” is one reason EHR “divorce rates are on the rise,” Haugen says.

Many practices wrongly believe adoption of their current system has gone better than it actually has, Haugen says, and that could be the case with your practice. It’s probable that users at your practice don’t know and use the system’s full capabilities. Have you sent someone to a user conference to make sure your staff is optimizing upgrades and new features? Have you told your EHR rep that you’re considering a switch and why? Before you commit to a switch, make sure your current vendor can’t—or won’t—help you make things right.

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