The number one reason to go to your EHR vendor's user group meeting is to get "an immersed, first-hand experience of the vendor technology," says Dan O'Connor, vice president of client relations at Stoltenberg Consulting.
First-time user group meeting attendees should expect to experience live product demonstrations, in addition they'll be given opportunities to provide user feedback, and given a vendor campus tour (if the meeting is onsite). Other benefits of attending your EHR vendor's user group meeting include updates from the vendor's leadership team on its market share, business success, software updates, customization opportunities, user case studies, and interoperability updates.
Here are a few more reasons to attend your EHR vendor's user group meeting:
Learn best practices from other physician practices. At the user group meeting, you'll be able to meet with comparable user organizations, adds O'Connor. "These aren't paid sales people. They are there to trade and share tips for success with other healthcare providers."
His advice? Target organizations similar in size, budget, and patient community for comparison. Also use the opportunity to make contacts for future information sharing. "These contacts can pay valuable dividends in the future," he says.
Harsha Madannavar, a managing director and partner at L.E.K. Consulting, says it's important to understand the vendor's product roadmap because any changes to the EHR could have an impact on your practice.
Gain face time with EHR vendor's staff. There's no better way to deepen the client-vendor relationship than to attend the user group meeting, advises O'Connor. "You'll then have a point person who will ideally feel more invested in your organization, [a person] you can follow up with to help with future vendor interactions."
Communicate what's working with the EHR. Just as important as letting the EHR vendor know what isn't working is communicating what is working — and what the vendor shouldn't change, says Madannavar. This is of particular importance if your practice is in the middle of an upgrade, which wouldn't be a good time for the vendor to update its software, he points out.
Finally, if you need to convince your manager to let you attend the user group meeting, check out the content that will be presented. EHR vendors have two motives with their user group meetings, says Madannavar. One of those motives is to get user feedback to improve the EHR. The other reason is to sell new functionality and products.
If most of the sessions are focused on selling new products, it's going to be hard to make a case for attending the user group meeting, he says.