How to start your EHR requirements gathering

Requirements gathering allows the EHR selection process to be carried out in a way that focuses on aligning an organization’s EHR-related goals with features found in products being offered by vendors. Put simply, requirements gathering allows a healthcare organization to determine what it needs to further its goals and make decisions accordingly.    

The requirements gathering process is both an information gathering process and a decision-making process that begins with assembling a selection team, creating a list of requirements and then determining which of those requirements are a priority. 

Assembling the selection team

Selections teams serve an important function in requirements gathering. Best practices dictate that a selection team should contain key stakeholders from a practice who represent the key areas of an organization. Therefore, a selection team should consist of individuals able to provide input regarding their respective department’s EHR requirements. Making certain the selection team contains a good representative sample of individuals from an organization not only provides a solid foundation for organization-wide buy-in to an EHR project it also provides valuable insight into the requirements gathering process. When a wide array of stakeholders are included in a selection team, insight regarding EHR requirements can be gathered from each key area of an organization.   

Determining requirements and needs

Determining requirements and needs is a process that involves, first, looking at a practice’s goals regarding its EHR’s features and usability. Best practices dictate that an organization should be as methodical as possible during the EHR selection process. From the start of initial requirements gathering process throughout the selection process, some objective criteria should be used to measure an organization’s needs against how an EHR solution meets these needs. 

Requirements are determined by using a ranking system that assigns a numerical value to each function or usability characteristic identified as important on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 representing the lowest priority and 5 representing the highest priority. The vendor’s performance would then be scored based on its ability to meet each of these functionality or usability characteristics on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 representing poor performance and 5 representing excellent performance. After these data are tallied, a practice can add data collected from the vendor’s demo to determine a product’s suitability. 

Prioritizing requirements

The requirements list should be viewed as a best-case scenario “wish list.” However, this list should be tempered with realism in that a number of factors may make it impossible to select an EHR with all of these features, therefore the requirements list should be reconsidered to include a list of requirements that are a high priority for your practice. For example, if a practice’s primary goal involves improving quality scores, the prioritized requirements list would include, at the top, EHR features that can help a practice track and improve quality scores.   

Without a rigorous requirement gathering process, the selection process will suffer due to a lack of direction and focus. A focused requirement gathering process should produce a selection criterion in which a practice can evaluate an EHR vendor. With a process that is organized and mindful of a practice’s needs the chances of making the right selection can be increased greatly. 


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Jeff Green

About the author…

Jeff Green, MPH, JD works as a freelance writer and consultant in the Healthcare information Technology Space.

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Jeff Green

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