8 Things to Find Out Before Shopping for an EHR

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8 Things to Find Out Before Shopping for an EHR

shopping for a new ehr

Whether your health agency currently uses paper records or an Electronic Health Records (EHR) software, prepare yourself ahead of shopping for a new EHR. By determining the following, you will have a better understanding of your needs and will be able to communicate those needs as well as evaluate vendors more effectively. Here are the things you need to know to find the solution that is right for you:

1- Current System Likes and dislikes  

Find out what is working or not working in your current system, whether it be paper or an electronic system. Interview staff members from across your organization to ensure you get a full understanding.

2- Required Functionality

Prioritize which functionality is required or would be nice to have before shopping for a new EHR system so it will meet your current and future needs and improve your workflow.

3- User Access Requirements

Find out how many and which staff members will need user access; define their specific roles including clinical, administrative, billing, scheduling, etc.

4- Required Programs and Interfaces  

Find out which forms, reports, billing requirements, etc. you need in your system. Also determine what interfaces you require to be functional with other systems you use or would like to connect such as immunization registries, HIEs, laboratory/radiology, medical devices, etc.

5- Certification Requirements

If you are expecting to qualify for grant funding, you will require an ONC Certified solution. Meeting that standard will ensure that your solution adheres to privacy and security HIPAA laws and can work with other systems to share patient information securely.

6- Complete vs. Modular Solution

Find out whether you want a complete or modular solution. A complete EHR solution supports the continuum of care from prior to the patient visit to the coordination of care in the community after the visit. A modular solution combines various vendor products working with your EHR to support that continuum of care.

7- Data Needs  

Determine what data you want to populate into your new EHR system, and if it needs discreet handling versus what can be scanned and uploaded into your new system. Knowing what format your data is in or needs to be can make the data migration into your new EHR much easier. Some vendors offer bulk uploading of data in specific formats, which would save you a lot of time. 

8- Budget 

Find out your total budget before shopping for a new EHR solution. When you consider vendor products you will want to watch out for any additional fees for training, services or vendor add-ons besides their base product price so you can find a solution that gives you the best value in your price range.

Not all EHR Vendors are Created Equal

Criteria for comparing EHR vendors

Not all EHR vendors are created equal. In the land of equality, we also have freedom: freedom to do as little or as much as we please. Freedom to excel – and freedom to “get by”. When it comes to meeting the needs of your agency, does your electronic health records vendor excel or merely “get by”?

Questions to consider when seeking an EHR Vendor

  • Does your current system readily and easily create the precise reports you need? Or are you cutting and pasting data into your own spreadsheet in a monotonous, tedious process, which must be repeated yearly, or worse quarterly, or even worse, monthly?
  • Are you confident that the system pre-checks every field prior to submitting an insurance claim so that your denial rate is as low as possible? Or are you constantly having to resubmit, or anxiously proofing and reproofing claims before pressing “submit”?
  • Does your EHR vendor make live support available to you during working hours? Or are you only able to submit tickets via email or leaving voice messages which will be returned “in the order in which they were received”?
  • Does your vendor’s support staff make you feel heard, seen, and not alone? Are they able to log in to your system immediately to view the record or the section of the system in which you are working? Or are you left to explain your scenario to someone who is essentially blind to the specific details of your issue?
  • Is your EHR vendor working constantly to upgrade and update your system, both for Meaningful Use Certification and for greater ease of interaction for you as the user? Or do you feel as if you and your staff are needing to learn computer coding in order to have the EHR system do the job you need it to do?

Take a hard look at what you value and what would be hallmarks of excellence for your organization: precise reports, initially-accepted claims, encouraging and responsive live support, Meaningful Use compliance, and make them happen – thus, starting with yourself as a key component to choosing excellence as an organization and not merely accepting the status quo.