4 points of comparison during your EHR selection
Narrowing a shortlist of EHR vendors can be done effectively, if you know what your practice needs. You must first analyze your practice before you can conduct an EHR vendor comparison. Understand the specific goals and requirements of your practice (patient reminders, network interfacing, productivity and billing tracking, etc.) and you can seek out EHR systems that will fit your market and develop a list of comparison points in order to analyze the quality and value of one system over another.
Take a look at how the system looks and feels, by utilizing trial sessions and focused user groups. Some systems are built with greater usability and functionality. It should be very easy and systematic to logically follow through an evaluation or encounter note. For example, the encounter note should be formatted in a way that you would naturally perform an examination (patient history should be before special tests and plan of care should be at the end). In addition, you should be able to toggle between features and applications without losing any input data.
During your EHR vendor comparison, cost is always going to be a consideration. Quality systems may come at a higher cost. Just because a system is expensive, however, does not mean that it is the best system for your practice. Ideally, you should find a system that does not charge any upgrade fees or customer service fees. Your practice is going to need customer service support, especially early in implementation. Your clinicians should feel comfortable to reach out for support so that they are fully competent in using the EHR system, instead of worrying about incurring fees to the practice. In addition, you should find a system that does not charge for initial user training during implementation. Avoid systems that require you to sign a long term contract, as this can leave you stuck with an underperforming system with no way out. Analyze what type of IT equipment and internet servers are required for each system, as these costs will be added to your purchase price.
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Compare ease of access for each system. Can the systems be accessed remotely? Is there mobile access for tablets, laptops and phones? Determine if your practice wants remote access, or only needs access within the walls of your practice building. In addition, compare patient access features. Does your practice want a patient portal, in which patients can login and access their medical records and visit summaries? If so, compare the quality and usability of patient access portals. Many EHR systems are run on an integrated, cloud-based system, which allows for remote access for clinicians and patients.
Part of your EHR vendor comparison should be analyzing how specifically each vendor meets your practice requirements. Does the EHR system meet all government incentive programs and insurance requirements? Compare whether the system meets all the specific needs of your practice that you have identified in your priority list. Likely, most vendors will not completely meet every one of your needs, but you should compare the quality of each objective against each other; it is never as simple as a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.
Utilizing these four during your EHR vendor comparison can greatly narrow your focus when analyzing your vendor shortlist. Prioritize your most important features and compare accordingly. In doing this comparison, you will likely find a vendor that most thoroughly meets your practice needs.
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