Pointers for Choosing Electronic Medical Software for Your Practice
One of the key components of any successful medical practice is an effective software solution for managing electronic medical records (EMR). While it’s good news that are so many versions of this application today, the variety tends to make choosing harder. But it can be easier with some useful pointers 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 option is suitable for small practices where upfront costs are lower and IT responsibilities are fewer. 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. You need at least five potential systems for your review. Work with other physicians in your area if you have the chance. Consider teaming up with them to simplify the process and even offer leverage with vendors too.
Whether you plan to go alone or not, it’s important to follow an established selection system. This will let you focus on reviewing your options in a consistent manner, making appropriate comparisons, and warding off distractions from sales 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 come up with a list of questions to ask as each candidate EMR software is reviewed. 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 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. Since everyone’s needs should be satisfied, you’d like to make them part of the evaluation process as much as possible. Don’t let the salesperson “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.