The EHR is the lifeblood of your practice. Some physicians are annoyed about the number of radio buttons they need to click as they’re documenting a patient encounter. Others are perplexed by the number of options in a drop-down list. And team members who have to generate reports may complain about how long it takes to crunch the data. Getting your EHR vendor to implement your product feedback is no easy feat, but it’s well worth the time and effort.
Here are four tips to getting it done:
Leverage a physician project champion.
The role of the physician champion is to funnel feedback from the physician community with an executive steering committee at the practice, said Joncé Smith, vice president of revenue management at Stoltenberg Consulting. What’s important for the practice to consider is the turnaround time expectations for each of the product updates, in addition to the priority breakdown of the requests — all of which will be discussed with the EHR vendor. Then this information should be shared with the physicians who provided the feedback.
“This structure provides the needed feedback inlet mechanism for physicians. It would be impossible for all physicians to offer feedback individually. This slightly formal approach automatically instills a level of importance to the physician group that their input is valued and will be acted upon,” she said.
Communicate feedback from non-physician users.
Getting feedback from registration staff is valuable, as is the perspective of users who create EHR reports, advised Smith. The registration team can offer ease-of-use insight, while the EHR report users can provide feedback on the usage and appropriateness of the data both from a content and format perspective. These additional feedback loops offer different perspectives, which can assist in making the project outcome optimal, she said.
Keep the vendor’s point of view in mind.
It’s always important to view any feature request from your EHR vendor’s point of view, said Derek Kosiorek, principal consultant with the Medical Group Management Association’s Healthcare Consulting Group. “You need to remember that they are a business that makes money, so they’ll look at any request through the lens of how it will help their bottom line. Along those lines, if the feature request is that important to your practice, you might want to consider paying for it, he advised.
Otherwise, you’ll have to build support among other users for your feature request, he said. You’ll have critical mass when enough people are asking for it or if the EHR vendor’s biggest clients want it. “If you’re a larger practice, they will accommodate you more, since they fear losing your business,” said Kosiorek.
Document all feature requests.
Whatever approach you take, it’s important to track your communications with the vendor, said Kosiorek. This means writing down when you requested something and the name of the person at the vendor who received your request. Keep in mind that a longer, objective list of dates and times has much more impact than saying, “We’ve asked for this a thousand times.”