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Important Insights on Choosing Electronic Medical Records Software (EMR)

One of the most crucial requirements of a successful medical practice is an efficient electronic medical records (EMR) software solution. Although it’s good that there are so many available versions of the application nowadays, it sure makes choosing so much harder. But it does get easier with a few helpful insights in mind.

The following are considerations for you to make as you choose EMR software for your medical practice:

First things first, decide if you will be hosting both the software and the hardware. 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 a suitable option for small practices with low upfront costs and less IT responsibilities. With some ASPs, hosting may be local, meaning the server will be located in your office and maintenance tasks will be performed there as well. 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.

Usually, choosing a system for a small practice usually starts 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. If you can, work with other doctors in your area. Consider collaborating with them to ease the choosing process and even provide leverage with the 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.

Creating a selection team to review your potential systems is a good beginning. Be sure to have at least one representative from all affected departments in this group. Then create a list of questions to be asked while reviewing every candidate EMR software. Use an evaluation matrix or any other similar tool that will allow you to thoroughly and systematically study each feature and functionality. This will also help ensure that all areas are covered. Then compare the applications based on ease of use, workflow, and cost.

Finally, all staff should be involved in product demos. Since everyone’s needs should be satisfied, you’d like to make them part of the evaluation process as much as possible. The salesperson shouldn’t be the one to “drive” the product during a demo. Instead, use real patient visit scenarios so you can gauge the compatibility of the system to your workflow. This is the best grasp you can have of how the system will be useful in your everyday operations.