Pointers for Choosing Electronic Medical Software for Your Practice
Among the most critical requirements for the success of any medical practice is an efficient electronic medical records (EMR) program. Although there are benefits to having a huge variety of these applications today, the variety makes it harder to choose. But it can get easier with a few important insights in mind.
The following are considerations for you to make as you choose EMR software for your medical practice:
First off, you need to decide if you want to host both the hardware and the software yourself. In exchange for a license, application service providers (ASPs) sell their software, which will be maintained on their own servers and accessed by users over the Internet. This is a suitable option for small practices with low upfront costs and less IT responsibilities. Some ASPs offer systems that are locally hosted, meaning the server will be sited in your office and maintenance procedures will also be performed there. In any case, allowing another entity to manage your patient data comes with risks, so you need to clear out issues on data ownership and business continuity before you commit to any ASP.
Typically, picking a system for a small practice also often begins with product demonstrations. Some vendors are hesitate to go through a formal RFP process with small practices. You should have no less than five prospective systems for review. Work with other physicians in your area if you have the chance. Consider collaborating with them to ease the choosing process and even provide leverage with the vendors.
Whether or not you plan to go solo, you have to establish a selection system. This is the only way to ensure that you can evaluate the systems consistently, making effective apples-to-apples comparisons, and not being distracted by different vendors’ pitches.
Creating a selection team to review your potential systems is a good beginning. Be sure to have at least one representative from all affected departments in this group. Then write down a list of questions to be asked as every candidate EMR software is put on the table. Use an evaluation matrix or any other similar tool that will allow you to thoroughly and systematically study each feature and functionality. This will also help guarantee that you will not miss any areas. Then compare the solutions in terms of workflow, ease of use, and cost.
Finally, during product demos, make sure all staff are involved. Because everyone’s needs must be satisfied, everyone should be part of the evaluation process too. The salesperson shouldn’t be the one to “drive” the product during a demo. Instead, make use of actual and specific scenarios of patient visits so you know how compatible the system is with your workflow. This is the closest you can get to seeing how the system will likely be useful in your day-to-day operations.