Posted By Monique Dever On August 15, 2017

Is Your EHR Vendor Legit? The Top 4 things to Find Out

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Today’s EHR market offers numerous options and tremendous variety in electronic health records software that it can be cumbersome to decide which vendor to choose.  Uncertainty can be due to any number of reasons, so this must be a big part of the discussion among your staff, prior to buying a new EHR.
First, the software’s features, usability, and affordability are all critical factors and usually pretty easy to find out through in-depth demos.  The system must have an ease-of-use that will be easily implemented and adopted, your staff has to be prepared for the challenge ahead, and the software solution should mirror your needs, e.g. public health departments should consider only public health-focused EHRs, while behavioral health agencies should look for one with specific behavioral health templates and forms.
Unfortunately, the integrity of the vendor (its people) itself often carries less weight in the deciding factors of which EHR system is best for your health agency.  The vendor’s character attributes are usually harder to judge pre-sale.  Outlined below are 4 key vendor attributes that all health agencies should strongly consider.
Vendor Honesty: You should be aware, there are vendors that claim to be more than they really are.  Some claim incorrect status of classification, saying they are certified as “Complete” when in fact they are certified as “Modular EHR.”  So, never take the vendors word.  Always check the Certified Health IT’s listing for an official confirmation of Classification Type.  It is important to have a certified “Complete EHR” to qualify for Meaningful Use benefits. EHRs certified as “Modular EHR” will only satisfy some federal requirements and not all.
Vendor Integrity: This seems like it should go without saying, but it is near impossible to know how you’ll be treated after the sale.  The vendor will promise the moon of course, but again, don’t take their word for it.  Always check their references in detail.  Of course you want to ask about how the system performs, but you should also ask about hidden costs, traps and pitfalls, convenience and ease of doing business with the vendor, and the overall quality of service that supports the software long term.
Vendor Actions: When it comes to interoperability you need a vendor that will support your needs for data exchange.  There are more and more reports about EHR vendors blocking information.  Check that your vendor is not one of those reported.  Again, ask references if they have ever experienced information blocking or other poor behavior with their EHR vendor.
Company Stability: Uncertainty of the company’s stability, due to mergers and acquisitions, sun setting a product or even closing altogether, must be a strong topic of conversation during the selection process.  There are enough challenges throughout the implementation of a new EHR; the security that your new vendor is here to stay and is committed to your success is a huge plus!
There are so many options available on the market, and you have the right to be selective.  Vendors only have one chance to get it right and prove their principles. Do your due diligence on the EHR software, the people behind the sale, and the company itself. Take responsibility for what you don’t understand, and ask lots of questions.  The answers will tell a truth you may not have expected.

About Monique Dever

Monique integrates research and networking with her passion for health and well-being to provide important, up-to-date news, resources and current events to the public health communities. She is the Marketing Executive for Patagonia Health, an Electronic Health Records (EHR) software company focused on the public health sector.