Like many, you probably received government incentives to adopt your current Electronic Health Record (EHR) provider. 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 considering switching EHRs, make sure you consider the following when making your final decision:
1. Ability to Evolve & Maintain Meaningful Use Practices
Regulations aren’t going away any time soon. So, it’s important to make sure your EHR is able to keep up with constantly evolving regulations. When Meaningful Use was first adopted, many small EHR vendors took advantage of practices’ needs for a certified EHR.
While some EHR vendors may offer great solutions immediately, they may not provide the best long-term solution for your practice. Are you sure this small player will be able to keep up with changing future requirements? What if they’re acquired by a larger player (forcing you to adopt unwanted changes)? Engaged vendors, that are capable of scaling, regularly communicate with their customers about product changes and industry updates, such as changes to ICD-10. If you aren’t receiving regular software updates from your EHR vendor, that is a red flag. You can also call the potential EHR and ask how many clients they have and what type of growth they’re experiencing. This is an easy way to gauge their longevity.
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Functionality That 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, HIPAA compliance, and ICD 10 compliance (to name a few).
An iPhone also has a large market of apps, though, that offer even greater functionality. Apple purposely allowed other companies to create apps to offer on the iPhone because they knew that alone, they couldn’t make every feature people would want, and need.
The same should be said for your EHR. It’s not possible for one single vendor to offer every capability you would like and need. A few vendors who have caught onto this insight, such as Drchrono, AthenaHealth, and Allscripts, are allowing other companies to build on top of their EHR system. In turn, they’re offering an even better user experience for their customers.
A few examples of companies that are offering add-on services to your EHR provider include Augmedix and Healthfinch. 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 medications, a routine and repeatable task that takes up far too much of physicians’ time. These two options (and many others) won’t be available to you if you use an EHR that doesn’t allow other companies to build on top of their system or an EHR that is determined to only sell you their own in-house products.
Strong Customer Support
If your EHR vendor is more focused on selling than providing great customer support, expect many challenges when trying to get support, request new services, or get out of a contract. Certain EHR vendors focus their efforts on sales and marketing because they understand how difficult and painful it is actually switching EHRs. They understand that even with subpar customer support, many customers won’t make the switch. So, they focus their time and effort on capturing your business and you wind up frustrated and dealing with terrible customer support.
Next time you’re in need of 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 using this vendor.
Care For You and Your Patients
The healthcare sphere is rapidly changing and is shifting towards 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. Creating patient portal availability, alone, is not sufficient.
Ask your patients what they think! Get their opinion about patient-facing tools from your EHR. Convey this feedback to your vendor. An EHR vendor that’s in it for the long haul and is looking to differentiate themselves should be excited to hear real patient feedback.
There are numerous factors to consider when switching EHRs. These are several of the most important ones. But most importantly, make sure your EHR is truly in the game for the right reasons.
Have an EHR that meets these criteria? Let me know about it by tweeting @TashfeenEkramMD.
Tashfeen Ekram, MD, is a radiologist, self-taught coder, healthcare innovator and Co-Founder of Luma Health. Contact him on Twitter at @TashfeenEkramMD.