Selecting a good EHR vendor is the first major choice you have to make after you’ve decided to transition to an EHR/EMR system.
Choosing an EHR vendor can be an overwhelming process, and you should allow at least two months to go through the selection process. Why so long? Well, there are over 400 (and counting) ambulatory EHR systems. Some well-known vendors like NextGen, have been around for years. Others are start-ups that are taking advantage in the upsurge of interest in EHR. Sifting through all these choices is practically a full time job.
But what should you even look for in an EHR vendor? How do you know who’s great, and who should be avoided? Here are some important tips to help get you started.
1. Research a Vendor Through KLAS
KLAS provides health care professionals impartial, third-party ratings for the healthcare technology field. The organization is well-respected, and their vendor reports are incredibly detailed and informative.
Every year, KLAS rates the top 20 EHR vendors in the field, and provides a detailed report that outlines the drawbacks and benefits of each vendor. Additionally, they also rate each vendor for which type of practice it’s best suited for. For instance, some EHR systems work better in clinics with 5 or fewer physicians. Others are better suited for clinics with 6-20 physicians.
Seeing these ratings, as well as what type of clinic they work best for, is a good way to start your search for a quality EHR vendor.
2. Talk to Other Clinics or to Your Specialty Society
Talk to other clinics that are similar in size to yours. Here are some questions to consider:
- How large is your practice?
- How many sites do you have?
- When do you go live?
- How many interfaces do you have with your EHR system? Do they work well?
- What function/capability does your staff like best about your EHR system? Which one do they like the least? What’s been the most frustrating thing about this system?
- How has service and support been with your EHR vendor?
- How long did it take your physicians and clinical staff to become comfortable using the system?
- How happy were you with the training the vendor provided?
- Have you saved money with the system, broke even, or lost money?
- If you could do it again, would you choose this vendor?
Additionally, your specialty society might also have some recommendations for you to research as well.
3. Focus on Support
As you start inviting in vendors to make their pitch, it’s easy to get wooed by flashy demos and savvy sales professionals.
Keep in mind that the system you’re buying is only part of what you need. You’re also buying into that vendors training and support capabilities, which are as (if not more) important than the system itself.
It’s important to ask vendors some probing questions about the health of their company, and their commitment to their clients. Consider these questions:
- How long have they been in business?
- How many practices do they current support?
- How long, on average, have the support staff been with the company?
- How much training do they provide to clinic staff and physicians?
- How do they handle training staff members you hire after go live?
- Will staff training be live, or will it be computer based?
- Do they provide different support packages? If so, what are the costs?
- Does onsite support cost more?
It’s also important to ask for references. When you get them, make sure you check them out. These references should be from a physician, an IT professional, and/or someone on the senior management team.
Choosing a good EHR vendor is not an easy process. Make sure you give yourself, and your selection committee (if you have one) enough time to fully research vendors and make a good selection.