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Posted By Monique Dever On December 10, 2018

Best-of-Breed or All-in-One? Which EHR is Right for You?

EHR Selection

With a one-system-fits all approach, the functionality and service (technology and user support) may not be everything you or your patients need. This compromises patient safety and leads to staff burn out. When selecting an EHR, you may wish to consider a best-of-breed approach.

Best-of-Breed Approach to EHR Selection

When selecting an Electronic Health Record (EHR), many multi-facility agencies focus on specific current functionality and security needs. But these agencies should also consider the many attributes of EHRs, which play a role for the agency long term. These attributes include life cycle costs, flexibility and scalability, interoperability, safety, usability, departmental productivity and clinic efficiencies.

A best-of-breed approach provides all the specific functionality needed to provide the best care to your individual patients and patient types, e.g. psychiatric care requires different functionality than public health requires.  If the systems purchased are truly best-of-breed, they will almost always have the capability to integrate and certainly promote interoperability to allow the facilities to provide the ultimate and connected care to all their patients, AND they will have very specific functionality to meet the facilities’ needs of today and scale moving forward.

Reasons to Purchase an EHR

Three key issues usually stated as reasons to purchase a single solution are price, IT support, and data consistency in reporting across the multiple types of care facilities in the group.  Each of these reasons are valid concerns in any health agency, but the course of action to purchase an all-in-one single solution will not necessarily result in achieving the end goals. A simple analogy: even a small person can wear a one-size-fits-all sweater that will keep them warm as intended, but it will also hang down to their knees. There are smarter options.

Cost of an EHR

Let’s start with price. Systems are usually quoted per provider or per the number of users.  Whether you divide your total user count into three systems or one all-in-one system, your user count remains the same.  Also, many vendors who provide a full suite of products, can often be much higher priced than smaller vendors, and from what we have learned in our 10 years of collaborating with our customers, these vendors are usually severely lacking in service.

Service from your EHR Vendor

A lack of flexibility and service can result in a heavy load for your IT staff.  With a full-service, best-of-breed vendor, the agency would be able to refocus IT staff toward interoperability strategies rather than software support and maintenance.  This focus can also include medical facilities outside their domain, such as private practices, to be truly interoperable. Whether or not an agency purchases one single solution or a best-of-breed tailored to the unique needs of each facility type, there will always be an overarching need for external connections.

EHR Reporting

With true collaboration, using the right best-of-breed vendors, reporting can be structured to use the same data fields and formatting from each system.  Additionally, if the single source vendor does not have the flexibility and service an agency needs, getting custom reports and requests can also be costly, and with heavy delays.  

A best-of-breed approach, improving patient safety and patient care, should be the focus when selecting a new EHR, rather than limiting your choices by purchasing a one-system-fits-all system.  

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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.

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