Selecting the Right EHR for Your Practice

Selecting the Right EHR for Your Practice

Selecting the right electronic health record (EHR), also known as electronic medical record (EMR), is a critical decision for a practice that requires significant research and planning. Though the benefits of implementing an EHR are evident, finding the right system can be a real challenge. There are many factors to consider when choosing an EHR system. The following are just a few suggestions:

Costs: Cost is an obvious factor when choosing an EHR. Prices are often dependent on the vendor, which features you select, and the number of providers in the practice. Research suggests the average cost of purchasing and installing an electronic health record (EHR) can range from $15,000 to $70,000 per provider.

User-friendly: Another significant factor in choosing an EHR is how user-friendly it is. Take advantage of vendor free trials and demonstrations. While they are time-consuming, most people wouldn’t buy a car without taking a test drive. This is a similar investment, and it is something you will utilize every day in your practice. Be sure to compare different vendors, features, and options.

Cloud Hosting: Most EHR vendors offer cloud-hosting. Cloud-based EHR systems offer significant benefits such as lower start-up costs, simpler implementation, and better security.

Training and Implementation: It is important to ask about the vendor’s implementation and training plan for your practice. Typically, implementation can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months. Having this information ahead of time will help with planning operations and scheduling. Most vendors offer some type of training program. Be certain to take into consideration the time it takes to get employees trained and ramped up on a new system and schedule appointments accordingly.

Integration: Ask about practice management or billing software integration to understand if you can integrate it with your current system. It might also be helpful to ask about an integrated practice management/EHR system.

Interoperability: Some EHRs offer features such as e-prescribing and ordering of laboratory tests and results. Ask vendors about these features and their interfaces with labs or pharmacies in your area.

Support: Be sure to gain an understanding on the level of support you can expect to receive from the vendor. Implementing and learning an EHR system is no easy task, so it is important someone is available to answer questions from you and your staff when you need assistance.

Meaningful Use Certified: Most EHR systems are Meaningful Use Certified. It is important to verify this before you move forward to reduce any risk of obtaining penalties. It is also critical to confirm a system is ICD-10 ready.