Buyers Guide

CHOOSING AN EMR/EHR VENDOR

 

Selecting an electronic medical record (EMR) and electronic health record (EHR) system for your practice can be overwhelming and difficult if you do not know what to look for. At times it can be very stressful when you are unsure what to do, and getting bombarded by sales representatives never helps.

 

There are many vendors, all of which claim to have the best system on the market. It is important for you to have a clear idea of what functionality and features you require.

 

Listed below are the functions and features you may want to take into consideration. Before signing anything, you should have asked the following questions prior to finalizing the paperwork:

 

  • DOES YOUR SOFTWARE CATER TO MY SPECIALTY?

    • You’ll find that the majority of EHR/EMR are designed for Internal Medicine, OB/GYN, or Pediatrics

    • Shop around for one that is specifically designed for your specialty

    • Ask what percentage of their clients are of the same specialty

    • Do they offer customizations or a la carte services?

 

  • DOES IT MATCH MY WORKFLOW?

    • Does the software meet the criteria of how you handle work?

    • Every product is designed differently in regards to work flow

    • Is it user friendly?

      • Very important if you don’t want your workflow to slow down

    • Is the software robust or clunky?

      • Does the software seem seamless when going through menus?

      • Or does it seem like more windows keep popping up to complete your work?

 

  • IS THE SOFTWARE CLIENT/SERVER BASED OR CLOUD BASED (ASP/SaaS)?

    • Always ask what type of hosting solution they have

    • If they are cloud based, what is their backup redundancy like?

      • How many data centers do they have?

      • How often do they back up?

      • What is the average up time and down time?

      • In the event of disaster, what is the solution to get your data back?

    • What Internet connection speed is required?

    • If client/server based, what are the server requirements for the software?

      • Find out client requirements as well

      • Who will do backups?

      • What are the security measures when your office is down?

 

  • IF CLIENT/SERVER BASED, WHO WILL PROVIDE THE HARDWARE?

    • Switching to EMR also means you will need to spend extra money on equipment if you do not already have it

      • Does the vendor offer server hardware?

      • Or do you have to buy your own?

    • Again, what are the hardware requirements

 

  • IF CLOUD HOSTED, WHO OWNS PATIENT DATA?

    • This is a key question to who owns your patient data

    • If they own the patient data:

      • What is the cost to retrieve it?

      • How long until you receive the data?

      • What format does it come in?

      • Do they sell the patient data?

    • If you own the patient data, same questions:

      • What is the cost to retrieve it?

      • How long until you receive the data?

      • What format does it come in?

    • Who else has access to patient data?

    • How secure is your patient data?

 

  • WHAT ARE THE COSTS & FEES?

    • Be sure to budget for your system

      • What is the cost of software if any?

      • What is the cost of hardware if any?

      • Do you have backup power?

      • Installation costs

      • Labor costs

    • Are there implementation fees?

    • Are there training fees?

    • What are the costs for licenses?

      • Is it per provider, or per user?

      • If per provider, how many users are you limited to?

    • Are upgrades included?

      • Will you be notified by updates?

    • Do they charge for data migration?

    • Is Interfacing included?

      • Software Interfacing

      • Lab Interfacing

      • E-RX Interfacing

    • Is there a cost for Customer Support?

    • Any additional features that may cost extra?

    • Is there are Warranty for any products specified?

 

  • HOW WILL YOU BE TRAINED?

    • What is the average training time?

    • What does the training schedule look like?

      • Can you be trained after practice hours?

    • Do they offer web based training or in-office training?

    • Will there be additional costs after the initial training period?

 

  • DOES YOU SOFTWARE INTERFACE WITH OTHER SOFTWARE?

    • All EHR/EMR, Practice Management, and Billing applications are required by law to be HL7 Compliant

      • This means they have the ability to “talk” to each other, and interface

    • If they do interface, what are the costs, if any?

    • If they don’t, what are the reasons?

      • Are they privatized?

      • Do they only work with certain vendors?

      • Can they break that contract to work with your billing service?

 

  • WHAT IS YOUR IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS?

    • This is probably one question that most providers don’t think about

    • The implementation process is a very time consuming step

    • Always ask what their average implementation process time is like

      • Some vendors may be back logged in implementation

      • They go by schedule, so don’t think you are number priority

      • THINK AHEAD and adjust your time accordingly

    • What information is needed during this process?

    • Do you have all the required steps completed before starting the implementation process?

 

  • HOW IS THEIR CUSTOMER SUPPORT?

    • This is one of the most important aspects of a company

    • If you have problems, you always need someone to resolve the issue right away

      • Quick, responsive, helpful, and a caring staff leads to great support

      • If they are unresponsive, and eventually lead you to stressful problems, odds are they don’t have a great support team

    • Do a test call prior to signing up to see how their support staff answers

      • Do they take long to pick up?

      • Do they sound friendly?

      • Are they willing to help on your situation?

    • Problems should be resolved on the same call

      • If it takes multiple calls, or a long duration of time to fix an issue, you have problems ahead of you

    • What are the customer support hours?

    • Does their technical staff seem like they know what they are doing?

 

  • CAN YOU TEST THE SOFTWARE?

    • This is another important question to ask

      • Seeing a demo is nice, but you really need to test it for functionality purposes

    • Ask how long have they been in business for

    • Is the product relatively new?

    • Most importantly, ask for references!

      • Although they will personally give you a select few of references, most references will be honest in their opinions

      • Feel free to grill their references with as much concerns you have, they’ll be open to answer anything

 

  • WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS OF THE CONTRACT?

    • Always read the bottom line

    • You don’t want to be stuck in a contract with a product you end up not liking

    • Always look for hidden fees

    • Does the contract outline all your needs?

      • Make sure all agreed terms are in the contract

      • Make sure you are not paying anything extra then you need to

    • Always have an attorney read your contract as well

 

The above is just a rough guide to help you on your journey to finding the right EHR/EMR for your practice. 

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Contact: 201-967-8588