How to Initiate the EHR Requirements Gathering Process

The process of selecting an electronic health record (EHR) system is daunting. Technology businesses are well aware of the required transition for most health practices to move from paper to electronic health record keeping. Because of this vendor awareness, the EHR market is ever-expanding, making the job of selecting the right EHR system even more challenging.

If users are unhappy with an EHR system, they will often point their fingers at the selection team. To save yourself this unnecessary headache, it is essential to establish a clear plan for the EHR selection process. That plan should always begin with a requirements gathering phase.

Delineating EHR Requirements

Before looking at any system in detail, it is essential that you delineate your EHR requirements. Before you undergo detailed requirements analysis for your practice, you should ask these key questions:

  • Why are we using electronic health records?
  • Who will be using the new system?
  • Who will require access to this system?
  • How will EHR serve our medical billing operations?
  • What patient population are we documenting? (i.e.: pediatrics, geriatrics, outpatient vs. inpatient, hospital systems, specialty niche etc.)
  • What hardware do I have in place?
  • Will this hardware be able to support a modern EHR system, or will we have to replace certain hardware components?
  • What compliance and insurance documentation requirements do we have?
  • Do I need an EHR that also works as a management/productivity/reporting system?

In order to answer these questions, and to better understand what your practice needs, you must speak directly with the physicians who will be using the EHR system.

Recommended reading: EHR selection survival guide - 7 steps to selection success

Do not rely on conferring with the heads of each department. Those in management may not have daily access to record keeping and patient care. It is essential that you discuss and deliberate with the direct users. One strategy of getting the most input would be to create a brief but thorough survey to be completed by your practice staff.

Key Stakeholders

Your key stakeholders for EHR requirements analysis include the clinical staff members (who will be using the EHR system day in and day out), and the support staff which includes the reception, billing and operations team. In addition, consider the needs of your insurance and accounting team, as they will need access to process financials. Your board members, owners, and management team will have other concerns, including cost of operations and extent of training. Because of the broad landscape of stakeholders you find in many practices, your EHR selection team must be assembled from all functional areas in order to achieve high user adoption.

A poor requirements gathering phase means you could waste money by choosing an inadequate system and risk losing excellent clinicians because of poor operations.

Once you have built an EHR selection team representative of your practice, you can direct your search in a focused manner. You should now begin to develop a prioritized list of EHR requirements which will allow you to eliminate systems that are less than qualified for your practice.

The process of building a well-balanced EHR selection team involves a lot of work, but if you don’t take a considered approach, you may miss out on the key needs of your clinicians. A poor requirements gathering phase means you could waste money by choosing an inadequate system and risk losing excellent clinicians because of poor operations. In the end, patient care could suffer. Therefore, proper planning is essential for a focused EHR selection process. You will know what your practice needs and you will be able to easily eliminate insufficient systems.

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Amy Vant

About the author…

Amy Vant is a doctor of physical therapy and clinical director for an outpatient physical therapy clinic in the United States. She has experience utilizing and implementing many forms of medical documentation through various healthcare practice venues. Amy enjoys writing about healthcare administration strategies, including electronic health record systems.

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Amy Vant

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