Most practices now use EHRs and slightly more than half use patient portals, but a significant percentage is still exploring their options when it comes to acquiring both technologies, according to our 2015 Technology Survey.
If you are a manager or physician at one of these practices, doing your homework upfront may reduce the likelihood that you'll experience common post-implementation challenges, such as interoperability issues or work flow problems.
Here, Jeffery Daigrepont, senior vice president of the Coker Group, a healthcare consulting firm, shares some of his top guidance for practices that are on the hunt for an EHR or patient portal:
If you are looking for an EHR:
Make sure that interoperability (between your EHR and other EHRs, and between your EHR and other practice technologies such as your patient portal) is a key part of your vendor contract, says Daigrepont. "Those that haven't bought [an EHR yet] and want to learn some lessons from those that have already been through this, could actually put a statement of work, or what I call "acceptance criteria" into the contract that basically says, 'I'm accepting this [EHR], but I'm not going to be financially responsible for it until my interoperability expectations are met,'" he says. "That forces the vendor and the practice to have a discussion about what are those expectations and both sides can verify that there's accountability and that will work as expected."
If you are looking for a portal:
Watch out for monthly, recurring subscription fees without cancellation options, says Daigrepont. "If you have three doctors, the portal could be $50 [per month] to anywhere from $150 per month, per provider. So if a practice does decide to use a portal, they should always have the right to deactivate that portal in the future if a doctor left, or maybe the doctor just didn't find it was valuable, or there was no [patient] adoption," he says. "Sometimes people sign up for a three- [or] five-year term on these portals and they're stuck paying that monthly subscription fee whether they're using it or not ... you should always be allowed to activate and deactivate."