Valuable Insights for Practices Looking for Good Electronic Medical Records Software (EMR)
One of the key components of any successful medical practice is an effective software solution for managing electronic medical records (EMR). Although it’s good that there are so many available versions of the application nowadays, it sure makes choosing so much harder. But it does get easier with a few helpful insights in mind.
Below are considerations you should make prior to choosing EMR software for your medical practice:
First of all, decide if the software and the hardware will both be hosted by you. Application service providers (ASPs) license their software out and maintain it on their own servers, making it available to users through the Internet. This is an appropriate option for small practices having fewer IT responsibilities and cheaper upfront costs to pay. Some ASPs provide locally hosted systems, which means the server will be placed in your office and maintenance will be performed there too. 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.
Often, selecting a system for a small practice also typically begins with product demonstrations. Some vendors are hesitate to go through a formal RFP process with small practices. Have at least five prospective systems for evaluation. If you can, work with other doctors in your area. Consider collaborating with them to ease the choosing process and even provide leverage with the vendors.
Whether you plan to go alone or not, it’s important to follow an established 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.
A good way to start is by assigning a selection team that will be in-charge of reviewing your prospective systems. Ensure that all departments that will use the system – from medical records to IT to quality improvement and the others – are well-represented in this group. Then create a list of questions to be asked while reviewing every candidate EMR software. To be able to study every feature and functionality meticulously and systematically, use an evaluation matrix or any other similar tool. This will also help make sure that you have covered every single area. Then compare the solutions in terms of workflow, ease of use, and cost.
Finally, all staff should be involved in product demos. Everyone’s needs must be met, so as much as possible, they must be part of the evaluation process. During a demo, it’s not the salesperson who should be “driving” the product. 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.
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