Critical Steps for Selecting an Electronic Health Record, and Things to Consider for Your New System

Even given the news that the majority of practices and hospitals have made the change to EHR, this continues to be a tumultuous time in the land of electronic health records. In fact, several entities have proclaimed 2013 the year of the great EHR switch.

With that, and because I am not brand loyal, I think it’s a great idea to keep an open mind and acquire as much information as possible in the event a change is needed or you’re one of the few practices to not make the transition to electronic records.

There are no shortage of quality sources with excellent tips and information available, but I think there’s always room for more. I recently came across a white paper from Tech Target that intrigued me. The topic: 10 Critical Steps for Selecting an EHR.

No need to point out all 10 tips, but some of them are worth sharing. For example, before beginning the move, or before beginning the transfer from one system to another, it’s important to understand your EHR goals. How do you measure them, how do you reach them; are they realistic; are they attainable?

Next, what’s your current state of affairs? Where do things stand now? What needs to be done to make a successful to a new or different EHR?

Which systems need to be integrated? Which do not?

What do you need to know from your vendor partner: what are their license and maintenance costs? What’s the length of the contract? How long does implementation take? How is their meaningful use record? Remember, ask for references, and call them.

Reach out to your own contacts. Ask questions. Get to know the product you want to buy before you buy it. Visit sites where the technology is being used. Ask to see it and get a feel for its capabilities.

What’s your expected RIO? What do you actually anticipate and what can you actually get? Are you being honest with yourself?

But once all of these questions are asked and/or answered, there are some other things to consider, says another Tech Target piece that I found somewhat interesting, titled: Finding the Right Vendor for Your EHR Facility.

For those of you new to the EHR game or those returning to it, don’t you want a wish list for the features the new technology has to offer. Some things to consider in your new investment:

Voice recognition — Is it critical? Depends on what you need and expect the system to do. There are add-on software tools you can buy so this may be a luxury item not worth the time or money, but it’s something to think about if there’s a need.

CPOE – It’s foundational for meaningful use. Make sure it’s easy to use and intuitive.

Security – Your vendor should understand your specific needs.

Coding standards – Think ICD-10 and SNOMED.

Quality reporting – This should go without saying: Make sure it’s certified and meaningful use ready. For those of you switching, this might be the reason.

The information here is pretty straightforward, and likely you already know it, but it’s worthwhile to think about some of these factors – for the first time or differently as you move forward.

That said, I’d love to hear your comments regarding making the move to an electronic record. What are some of the most important things to consider?

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