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4 Qualities to Look for in a New EHR

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Is this EHR really serving my needs, or is it causing extra work and frustration?

Maybe you received government incentives to adopt your current EHR. Now that those incentives are diminishing, you may be asking, Is this EHR really serving my needs, or is it causing extra work and frustration?

If your practice is at this crossroad and is thinking of switching EHRs, make sure the following qualities are at the top of your search:

Able to Keep up with Meaningful Use

Regulations aren’t going away any time soon. Make sure your current EHR will be able to keep up with increased changes in regulations. When meaningful use was first adopted, many small vendors took advantage of practices’ needs for a certified EHR.

While these vendors may be great solutions now, how can you be sure a small player will be able to keep up with changing future requirements, or not be acquired by larger players (forcing you to adopt unwanted changes)? Engaged vendors capable of scaling will be regularly communicating with their customers about product changes and industry updates, such as changes to ICD 10. If you are not receiving regular software updates, that is a red flag.

Helps You Achieve Your Goals

For a moment, think of your EHR as if it were your smart phone. An iPhone, for example, has core functions such as calling, messaging, and internet browsing, just as your EHR should have meaningful use compliance, HIPPA compliance, and ICD 10 compliance (to name a few requirements).

But an iPhone also has a large market of apps. Apple purposely allowed other companies to create apps because they knew they wouldn’t be able to make every feature people would love to see on their phone.

It should be the same for your EHR. There is no way your vendor can offer every capability you would like. A few vendors who have caught on to this insight, such as drchrono, AthenaHealth, and AllScripts, are allowing companies to build on top of their EHR.

Augmedix is a company that allows you to comply with documentation requirements while solving the pain point of having to spend more time on your computer than with your patient. Healthfinch reduces the burden of refilling medication. These awesome options and more will not be available to you if you’re using an EHR that refuses to allow other companies to build on it, or an EHR that is determined to sell you only its own in-house products.

Provides Customer Support

If your vendor is more focused on selling than customer support, expect friction when trying to get support, request new services, or get out of a contract. These vendors will focus their efforts on sales and marketing because they realize it is painful to switch, and that, hence, you will not want to switch.

Next time you need customer support, record the time it takes to get someone on the phone. Then, call their sales line. If you’re able to connect to a sales representative with no wait, yet their customer service response time is unbearable, think twice about your current vendor.

Focuses on Patients like a Provider Would

The healthcare sphere is rapidly changing, with shifts toward value based care, accountable care organizations, and population health. Your EHR should be looking at ways to increase patient engagement, allow greater access to patient data, and facilitate integration with home monitoring devices. It’s not sufficient for your EHR to just create patient portal availability.

Ask your patients what they think about patient facing tools from your EHR. Convey this back to your vendor. A vendor in it for the long haul and looking to differentiate themselves should be excited to hear real patient feedback.

There are plenty of factors to consider when switching EHRs. Make sure your EHR is truly in the game for the right reasons with these above four tips.

Have an EHR that meets these criteria? Let me know about it by tweeting at @TashfeenEkramMD.

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