Options – Getting Started & Next Steps

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). Although there are benefits to having a huge variety of these applications today, the variety makes it harder to choose. 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 of all, decide if the software and the hardware will both be hosted by you. Application service providers (ASPs) have their own servers on which they maintain software they license out, which can be accessed by users via the Internet. This option is suitable for small practices where upfront costs are lower and IT responsibilities are fewer. Some ASPs offer systems that are locally hosted, meaning the server will be sited in your office and maintenance procedures will also be performed there. In any case, having another entity manage your patient data has its risks, so you have to iron out data ownership and business continuity issues before committing to any ASP.

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. Have at least five prospective systems for evaluation. Work with other local doctors if possible. Consider an informal collaboration as it can make the selection process easier, not to mention provide leverage with vendors.

Whether you plan to go alone or not, it’s important to follow an established 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 start is by assigning a selection team that will be in-charge of reviewing 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 come up with a list of questions to ask as each candidate EMR software is reviewed. 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 ensure that all areas are covered. Then compare the programs based on three general criteria – workflow, ease of use, and cost.

Lastly, the entire staff must be involved during product demos. Since everyone’s needs should be satisfied, you’d like to make them part of the evaluation process as much as possible. Don’t let the salesperson “drive” the product during a demo. Instead, use specific scenarios based on actual patient visits to know how the system really fits your workflow. This is the best understanding you can get of the system’s usefulness in your daily operations.

Source: http://www.makingdifferent.com/4-ways-technology-impacting-health-today/