Posted By Ashok Mathur On September 30, 2014
What is the next most important thing for a Local Health Department? You may be surprised.
Local health departments across the nation have seen their budgets reduce year over year while expenses continue to rise. However, we all know Electronic Health Record (EHR) software will bring needed efficiencies while complying with federal EHR meaningful use mandate. With this backdrop, of course, price is the number one criteria. After price, what is the most important criteria? Read on, you may be surprised.
Sure, you want to be certain that the software system you invest in will meet your needs and be focused for your kind of medical practice. For example, if you are a local health department, you will want to get an EHR which is specific to public health including state and federal compliance and reporting.
Apart from the price for the EHR, your organization is going to spend lot of time and energy switching from either paper documentation or an old electronic medical records (EMR) system to the new EHR. Consider the following efforts when buying a new EHR:
- Selecting an EHR: It is not easy to find the right EHR which meets your organization’s needs.
- Budget approvals: Once the right EHR product is identified, you will need to go through approvals (e.g. LHDs may need to get approval from Board of Health and county commissioners). Additionally, some organizations may need to go through time consuming Request for Proposal (RFP) processes.
- Training: A large number of staff (including patient registration, scheduling, check out, nurses, Medical Office assistants, providers and billing) will need to be trained.
- Implementation: An efficient EHR provides great opportunity to maximize revenue, improve workflow and increase efficiency. To take advantage of the opportunity provided with EHR, you will need to adopt and implement a new workflow.
If you are going to spend all the above time and effort, you will want to make sure that the new EHR will be used by your staff. If your staff does not use the new EHR, all the above effort would have been wasted.
Thus, the next most important thing (after price) is that your new EHR must be Easy-to-Use. Yes, EHR has to be easy-to-use for your least tech savvy user. In every organization, there are people who will pick up any software quickly. At the same time, there are some people who will struggle with computers and EHR. These less tech savvy users may be good at their job (e.g. nursing) but will need an EHR which is easy-to-use and easy-to-learn.
Alas, we come across far too many RFPs which talk in length (some 60 pages long) defining technical and functional requirements, but never even mention Ease-of-Use. If an EHR is not easy-to-use, staff will not use it and it may become an expensive mistake. Do not make the mistake; ensure you focus on Easy-to-Use EHR as the next most important factor.