20 Questions to Ask Your EHR Vendor

July 6, 2011

Physicians Practice asked its readers "What are the most crucial questions you should be asking your technology vendor?" Here are 20 of our favorites.

Whether your practice is shopping around for an EHR or waiting for upgrades, it’s good to know what you’re in for, technology- and time-wise. That’s why we asked our readers, practice consultants, IT experts, and members of our Physicians Practice Group on LinkedIn to submit their thoughts for the most crucial questions you should be asking your vendor. Here are our favorites:

1. Do you have an implementation team that will make an assessment of the readiness of your practice and staff?

2. Do you have a user group that meets annually and that has a listserv for sharing information online?

3. Do you have a dashboard report to track phone message turnaround time by nurses and providers?

4. How often do you update your software; what updates are you planning for your next two releases?

5. Have your clients been more successful with a "big bang" implementation approach or a phase-in approach?

6. What happens when your office is hit by a disaster; are the records safe?

7. How many providers in our specialty use this system? Can you refer our practice to at least three who have set up this current version to see how it went?

8. Which systems failed implementation or were replaced within 24 months of implementation?

9. How many clients can demonstrate they have achieved their ROI?

10. Can we load our insurance contracts and see apples-to-apples performance comparisons?

11. Do you carry cyber and privacy liability insurance coverage?

12. Will an EHR migration absorb all of the patient demographics through a reverse migration from the billing data?

13. How often are coding updates incorporated (if the vendor provides this component)?

14. Do you, the vendor, have a complete inventory of drug, allergy, food interactions and their respective alerts incorporated into the system and again, how often is the database updated?

15. What is the pricing structure, by practitioner? By location? Are there different prices for varying types of practitioners?

16. Is the specific system version you are proposing: the same system that won the awards you tout; the same one that’s CCHIT/ONC certified; and the same one that is certified as interoperable with our regional health information exchange or health information organization?

17. You say your system is template-driven and completely customizable. For my specific specialty, how much time do I need to devote to populate and customize the templates to become functional in my practice?

18. What reporting capabilities are natively embedded in your system? Is it a separate module? How easy is it to generate my own custom reports?

19. To achieve meaningful use qualification, do you have dashboards and other tools to allow me to evaluate how our providers are doing in the specific areas needed to qualify for ARRA/HITECH funds?

20. Do you have a money-back guarantee for Stage 2 and Stage 3 of meaningful use qualification?

Contributors: Ronald Cline, manager, Physician Consulting Services at QHR; Robert Evans, healthcare consultant; Gayle Gottlich, owner, Pathfinder Consulting; Ken Groff, executive, Beacon Insurance Group; Marion Jenkins, CEO, QSE Technologies; Bruce Miller, owner, M&M Practice Consulting; and Rosemarie Nelson, healthcare consultant, MGMA.

Marisa Torrieri is associate editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at marisa.torrieri@ubm.com.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2011 issue of Physicians Practice.