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Important Considerations When Switching an EHR System

electronic health recordThe adoption of electronic health records (EHR) by physicians, healthcare organizations and their related business associates is growing at a rapid pace. However, a Black Book survey revealed that more and more healthcare providers are getting dissatisfied with their EHR for various reasons and that they are considering exchanging it. Difficulty in using the existing software is one of the main reasons why physicians want to switch their patient health record systems. The impractical nature of the software has resulted in an increase in patient process times and decline in productivity.

Switching to a new EHR system requires careful planning and practices that are planning to do so should go by some important considerations to make the right decision:

  • Software – This is the most important consideration. The success or failure of integration greatly depends on the user interface of the system. The software should allow interfaces with other practice programs to ensure smooth workflow. Choose a system with user-friendly software that is easy to navigate and meets the compliance standards for ICD-10 and Meaningful Use. Everything, such as color, shape, placement and form of information should be user-friendly as the practice staff will be looking at the program for hours every day. Including them in the process of software testing is good idea as this would help maintain workflow during adoption.
  • Data Hosting – When it comes to data hosting, physicians can choose from various options:
  • Server-based – The entire system is deployed within the practice with all the devices connected to a central server. This enhances security, but is expensive.
  • Cloud Hosted – The server will be placed at a remote location by the vendor with all devices in the practice connected to it online. EHR systems based on cloud computing provide automatic back up, enhanced system security, high availability and error-free upgrades.
  • Cost – Some systems requires specific hardware, interface, training and support resources. Practices should take all this into account to get an idea about the technology cost. In addition, Return on Investment (ROI) should be calculated by estimating loss of productivity, benefits from any incentive programs and the time to regain the initial investment. The impact of the software on clinical efficiency also needs to be considered to prevent loss of revenue due to improper handling of claims and delayed or denied reimbursements.
  • Meaningful Use (MU) Certified – This is required to ensure whether the product meets the highest safety, security and functionality standards. Electronic health record that is not certified for MU attestation can result in a substantial loss of money. In order to qualify for payments under Medicare and Medicaid, EHR incentive programs physicians are required to use certified electronic health record technology.
  • Customization – Every practice has different procedures and needs and the success mainly depends on the ability to change and customize the workflow of an EHR program. A customizable system means it can accommodate almost all the unique workflow, operational, communication and reporting needs. Physicians need to talk with the software vendors to understand the various customization options and also get information on the changes that can be made to the program to suit their preferences without compromising security standards.
  • Enduring Goals – After choosing the electronic health record system, practices should evaluate whether it will improve their goals. Electronic files are a critical element in the strategic plan for growth and profitability. Electronic health record technology should meet the necessary criteria for coding, medication management, quality of care and patient satisfaction.

As technology is evolving rapidly, getting professional assistance to help choose a new EHR system can help avoid previous mistakes.

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