4 things you should know about EHR vendors before selecting their system

Getting the EHR selection process right is an art form many practices have failed to master resulting in an increasing number of costly lessons. A survey conducted by the American Medical Association and American Partners of 940 physicians found 34% of respondents said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their EHR systems, compared with 61% of respondents in a similar survey conducted five years ago.

Given that failure (or, at least, partial failure) in the process of EHR selection is the rule rather than the exception, there are a number of measures a practice can take to avoid making the wrong decision. Primary among the steps to be taken involves understanding the EHR vendor who is pitching a system to your practice. The following list provides an overview of vendor-related research to engage during EHR selection.

1. Where will the EHR vendor be as a business in 5 years?

The EHR market is volatile given the sheer number of players in space. Basic market economics dictate that some competitors will fall off, some will merge, and some will excel. Being tied to an EHR vendor who may not exist a few years down the road can present significant challenges.

Recommended reading: 2016 EHR vendor directory - ensure your vendor knowledge is 100% accurate with this free guide

Challenges aren’t limited to when the company folds, but are also present in the time leading up to the point when services are scaled back, leaving a practice feeling as if they are sitting on a sinking ship. As such, take a thorough look at the company’s activities, if any red flags are present (a lack of product innovation, poor financial performance etc.), it may be prudent to move in another direction.

2. Where will the EHR vendor’s product(s) be in 5 years?

A vendor’s emphasis on developing their product is important for the simple reason that a practice does not benefit from purchasing a product that will be obsolete in a few years. As such, an EHR vendor should be able to offer some form of strategic vision as to where the company’s products will be in 5 years. If a vendor cannot provide a clear and concise map of product development, the wise choice may be to turn away.

3. Is the EHR vendor leading or following the market?

When assessing EHR systems offered in the current market it is not terribly difficult to distinguish between vendors who are trying to innovate and those that are simply following the market trends and “picking up scraps” left by other vendors. Followers may be temporarily safe in the market, but most likely, they will offer a product that is a cheap replica of better systems and will often lack the intangibles that market leaders possess.

4. How does the EHR vendor rate on customer satisfaction?

As the saying goes, the customer is always right. This notion holds even more weight given the fact that selecting a poorly supported EHR can result in system downtime and a wealth of lost productivity. One can easily find customer service ratings for EHR online and draw conclusions based on this information.

The main takeaway here is simple, conduct a thorough vetting process when selecting an EHR. The fundamental premise you should operate on when conducting this process is to keep an open mind but never rely on vendor representations without verifying them. It may sound overly skeptical, but when presented with the cost of making the wrong decision an ounce of prevention may be a worth a pound of cure.

author image
Jeff Green

About the author…

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

author image
Jeff Green

Featured white papers

Related articles