The Island of Misfit EHRs

Guest post by Dr. Tom Giannulli, CMIO, Kareo.

Dr. Tom Giannulli
Dr. Tom Giannulli

As any holiday TV-loving baby boomer can attest, the island of misfit toys is not a happy place. In the 1964 stop-motion animated television show, “unwanted” were destined to live out their toy lives without the joy of playtime with the child they were built to please. Unfortunately, some EHR products share certain misfit qualities which can make their use more difficult for a busy provider.

So how do you know if you are using a misfit EHR? Here are a few signs:

Sound familiar? This is essentially your situation when you have committed to an outdated and under-supported EHR system for your practice. You are land-locked by an older system that is not cloud-based or does not leverage the many cloud resources for communication and interoperability.

So, your technology is old, the code base has been put on the shelf by the EHR vendor and no updates are coming. This is despite the rapid changes surrounding your practice and the healthcare industry in general.

You feel isolated, and when you call for support you get little to no relief, as the vendor has moved on to bigger and better customers. In the TV show, Santa promised to come back to save the misfits, just as your EHR vendor promised customized support, ongoing upgrades and improved efficiency. But the costs are prohibitive and your confidence in the vendor is low.

Maybe it is time to get off the island, and hitch a ride with a new vendor. If a new EHR is on your holiday list, here some criteria you should consider:

Cloud-Based Platform

Leverage the power of the cloud to connect to labs, e-prescribing networks, HIEs and other data hubs such as the Commonwell Health Alliance. With a cloud-based EHR system these connections are built into the application, and any new features or connections to other entities become available to all users, no upgrades, no updates required to your infrastructure.

Don’t buy expensive hardware, servers and IT support staff to manage them. All you need to run a cloud-based EHR is a desktop web browser or mobile device.

Affordable Single Vendor Solution for Admin, Clinical and Patient Engagement

Look for a single vendor solution. Minimize headaches related to interoperability and out of sync updates to interfaced solutions. Make one phone call to get help with the system instead of a list of calls. You can also usually get a better price for all-in-one solutions than buying each separately and then having to buy the required interfaces. Most single vendor solutions leverage a single platform and thus share common data and features easily, like scanned images between EHR and admin, fax and interoffice messaging.

Excellent Support, with a Reputation for Being Responsive to Your Practice, Regardless of Size

Not all vendors want to service smaller practices from one to 10 providers, for example. Many spend a lot of their time helping bigger clients that can afford to pay higher service rates. If you are a small practice, find a vendor that is dedicated to that market and understand the unique challenges of your type of practice.

Purpose Built Mobile Apps for Point of Care and Out of Office Workflow

Look for mobile apps that are native vs. simply able to run in the mobile browser. Native apps are built to run fast even over a slow network connection and support cool features like camera, voice, advanced gestures and more advanced use of the touch interface and the device itself.

Advanced features like creating new notes, orders, prescriptions are very useful vs. some apps that just allow the user to view information.

Up to Date Technology and Compliant with Current and Near-term CMS Regulatory Policy Changes

Healthcare is undergoing rapid change. Every year a new regulatory initiative is put on the plate and some vendors are not ready or don’t have the ability to respond in reasonable timeframes. Don’t risk getting stranded on the island again. Look for a vendor that has a track record of delivering features on time and can help you get through the regulatory hurdles as needed.

Santa can take many forms, including your EHR vendor. So while you are taking a few days off from the office this holiday season take a look at your options, you may be surprised how things have changed while you were out in the cold, stuck on that island.

For more help on choosing a new EHR, take a look at these informative websites to get a better view of the current EHR landscape:

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