Evaluating proposals from potential EHR vendors
Once you receive your proposals from your selected vendors, your selection team will have the challenging but rewarding task of evaluation and selection.
EHR selection criteria #1: The vendor
Your EHR vendor will become a partner in your clinical practice and will develop an ongoing professional relationship with your practice. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the technicalities of the EHR system, as well as the operations and professionalism of the company. When you receive your proposals, make a note of the timeliness and completeness of the proposal. The vendor’s proposal is their first impression to your practice. It should be well organized, include all requested information and submitted within your requested time frame. These components are excellent indicators of the company’s professionalism and support levels. You want a vendor that is timely and respects your needs.
EHR selection criteria #2: Practice requirements
Next, take your top 10-15 priorities and analyze how closely each one meets your needs. Choose a simple but effective system to grade the extent to which each requirement is satisfied. A visual color system, as easy as red, yellow and green works well. Give a red mark to points that do not satisfy your needs; yellow goes to points that are okay but not exactly what you want; assign a green mark to points that meet your needs. If you mark your proposal documents in this manner, you will have a visual indication of which one suits your practice needs when you look at a proposal filled with green marks.
EHR selection criteria #3: Cost
Cost will be of great importance, so if you find a proposal that is completely out of your budget, you will be able to easily remove it from your list. Remember that there is typically some negotiation room when it comes to costs. Avoid focusing too much on the bottom line. A quality EHR system is highly valuable to your practice, so expect to pay for this quality.
EHR selection criteria #4: Training and implementation
Analyze timeliness for training and implementation. You will need a vendor that can provide ongoing staff training for regular intervals for several months. The vendor should also have readily available customer service support via phone or internet conferencing. Analyze what technical equipment you have and what equipment you may need to purchase to institute the new system. Hopefully the systems run on standard computers and secure wireless internet.
The next step
You may want to select 2-3 vendors from your RFP responses. It would not be wise to chose a vendor solely based on their proposal. You need to see the system in action. The top 3 vendors will be invited for software demonstrations. Then, based on these software demonstrations and many hours of analysis, your practice will be able to make a final decision for the best suited EHR system.
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