Change is difficult, so why switch EHR vendors if you don’t have to? If your current EHR is doing essentially what the vendor promised and your physicians are reasonably happy, staying with your current EHR vendor might be a smart decision for your practice.
A critical consideration is the cost of switching to a new EHR, said Derek Kosiorek, principal consultant with the Medical Group Management Association’s Healthcare Consulting Group. On top of the financial cost of installing a new system, there are also a lot of staff resources involved.
“It’s very difficult to get doctors on the same page [with a new EHR],” he said. That means you also have to find a project manager to guide this transition.
Here are four more reasons you might want to consider staying with your current EHR vendor:
Good track record with other small- to-medium-sized practices
There’s a lot of data out there — from organizations such as KLAS — that illustrates what EHR vendors’ customers are saying about them in the market. That’s important, when assessing your relationship with your current EHR vendor, said Mike Costa, principal at Impact Advisors.
If your EHR vendor has a lot of satisfied customers in physician practices that are similar to yours in size, it might be a good reason to stick around. That’s because it says your EHR vendor is developing products with the needs of small- and-medium-sized practices in mind, he said.
ICD-10 savvy EHR vendor
Now that he’s the other side of the ICD-10 deadline, Andrew Bronstein, an orthopedic hand surgeon in Las Vegas, said practices should take note of how easy their EHR vendor made the transition. “Going with the new coding system was the first time I felt lonely as a doctor. I couldn’t get someone else to help with the coding,” he said.
He had to rely on his EHR to select the appropriate ICD-10 code based on his documentation — otherwise, he wouldn’t be reimbursed properly. Bronstein is staying with his current EHR as a result.
If your EHR vendor behaves like a partner, it’s a good reason to stay working with them, said Costa. The best way to assess the strength of this relationship is to take a look at your EHR vendor’s level of responsiveness and timeliness when there’s a problem. Unfortunately, this isn’t a factor that many practices consider, he said.
“Still, at the end of the day, partnership will ensure that you get the treatment and service that you should expect as a small- to-medium-sized practice.”
A good value proposition
This is a little bit fuzzy, but take the time to consider if your current vendor has proven their value proposition, said Costa, who encourages practices to ask these questions:
• Have you achieved the outcomes you expected to achieve with your EHR?
• Has your vendor kept pace with the market?
• Are the upfront cost of your EHR and the ongoing maintenance fees you pay providing the value you expected out of the system?
If your response to these questions is “yes,” you should probably keep your current EHR, advised Costa.