As a healthcare leader, you’re responsible for a variety of decisions to enhance your practice while keeping your bottom line in mind. Since all electronic health records (EHR) are not created equally and there have been a variety of EHR technological developments that could help your organization, you may be tempted to upgrade your system.
Before you commit to a new EHR, however, you should study the reasons why you’re considering switching and research the best platforms for your hospital or health system. Does your current vendor no longer support your system or has there been a merger that impacts interoperability?
No matter the reason, you should consider many factors when choosing a new EHR. First, you must determine the best type to accommodate your hospital. There are web-based, cloud-based, and SaaS (software as a service) EHRs and each category comes with plenty of different functionalities to choose from. The options may appear overwhelming. To help you during your search, we’ve compiled six questions to ask when choosing the right EHR for your hospital or facility.
How much is it?
Like anything, the price point varies depending on the size of your practice and the features you select. When you request an estimate, keep in mind that the true cost will be more than just purchasing and installing the system.
As you’re comparing vendors, ask about their subscription fees per provider and be sure to inquire about activation and licensing costs, too. Throughout this conversation, discuss the additional features you wish to add and how this may or may not impact the final price. Also, make sure the system can accommodate your existing e-prescriptions or Telehealth, or more importantly, the ones you intend to implement.
Is it a cloud-hosted system?
Hosting servers and hardware onsite can be cumbersome, restricting space in your practice. The cloud provides convenient access to data while adhering to HIPAA’s strict security. Additionally, this option can help alleviate maintenance and tech support, allowing the vendor to maintain those relationships. If these benefits are important to you, checking to see which vendors offer cloud-based options might help narrow your decision.
Is it intuitive?
The EHR system must be easy for all your staff to use. In addition to your providers, your administrative staff and billing coordinators need to feel at ease with the system. Vendors frequently provide demonstrations and free trials, so use this time to test how the system will work for your practice. Researching on the front end helps you assess the integration with your practice. Remember, if the option doesn’t work, it will add hours to your staff members’ workdays and become a nuisance, negatively impacting your facility’s ability to deliver patient care. Use your research-gathering period wisely as it could significantly help with your selection process.
Is there ample training available?
Ask the vendors what kind of training program they provide to help acclimate everyone with the new software. Some vendors even offer individualized support without additional fees. Inquiring about the thoroughness and extent of training is important.
Consider the quality and amount of training in addition to its format. Will you only have access to online courses or are there formal onsite trainings? Although some systems may cost a little more upfront, thorough support to get your team up and rolling could be well worth the additional money. By contrast, going with a cheaper option may prove to be detrimental if the proper training is not in place.
What about continual support?
Even after the initial training, adapting to a new system can be difficult. Be sure to ask the vendor about the quality of their customer service department. How quick is their turnaround for responding to an issue and how long does someone typically have to wait on a call? Unfortunately, if they aren’t easy to reach or cannot answer your questions in a timely manner, this can cause even more work stoppage. As you continue to look at the various functions of the system, consider key customer support issues as a strong factor in your decision making.
Are there customization options?
Specialties benefit from customization even more. For practices that cover a variety of specialties, it’s helpful to have some specific modifications and features. Unfortunately, not every pharmacy or lab will perform well with every EHR. Discuss compatibility with the vendor. As you strive to ensure interoperability, this could be a large factor in your decision.
Often, the vendor may be willing or able to customize certain features. While this could help your practice and increase functionality, make sure you discuss how this might affect the total cost or monthly subscription.
Ultimately, you have a budget to adhere to, but it’s important to think about how each piece of the puzzle will impact your bottom line. More thorough training and customization may come with a higher price tag, but a quicker and easier integration with your staff could certainly pay off in the long run.
If you would like to learn about Medicus Healthcare Solutions’ services, which include project and resource management, transition projects, consulting, locum tenens staffing, and permanent placement solutions, call 855-301-0563 to speak with an experienced business development executive today.