Pointers for Choosing Electronic Medical Software for Your Practice
Among the most critical requirements for the success of any medical practice is an efficient electronic medical records (EMR) program. Although it’s good that there are so many available versions of the application nowadays, it sure makes choosing so much harder. But it can get easier with a few important insights in mind.
Here are few things you should consider when selecting 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 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, having another entity manage your patient data has its risks, so you have to iron out data ownership and business continuity issues before committing to any ASP.
Typically, picking a system for a small practice also often begins with product demonstrations. Vendors may not be willing to submit to a formal RFP process when dealing with a small practice. You need at least five potential systems for your review. Work with other physicians in your area if you have the chance. Consider an informal collaboration as it can make the selection process easier, not to mention provide leverage with vendors.
Whether you intend to go with it alone or with other practices, you need to set in place a selection system. This way, you can ensure consistency as you evaluate your options, make appropriate comparisons, and avoid distraction from pitching vendors.
A good way to start is by assigning a selection team that will be in-charge of reviewing your prospective systems. Make sure the group is composed of at least one representative from each department that will be using the system, such as quality improvement, nursing, billing, IT, and the rest. Then write down a list of questions to be asked as every candidate EMR software is put on the table. Using an evaluation matrix or any other similar tool can help you analyze every feature and functionality. This will also help guarantee that you will not miss any areas. Then compare the programs based on three general criteria – workflow, ease of use, and cost.
Finally, during product demos, make sure all staff are involved. Everyone’s needs must be met, so as much as possible, they must be part of the evaluation process. The salesperson shouldn’t be the one to “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 best grasp you can have of how the system will be useful in your everyday operations.
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