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In the market for an EHR? Here’s a step-by-step selection guide by internist and pediatrician Rob Lamberts, who’s been through the process himself.
In the current economic stimulus bill, large financial incentives are put in place for medical practices that use an approved EHR product. The buzz is at an all-time high.
With all this buzz, why is it that most physicians assume EHR adoption is bad? A recent study suggests that a high proportion of physicians would rather quit medicine than adopt an EHR.
Offices like mine that have not only survived, but thrived with an EHR suggest that tragedy is not inevitable. However, the transition takes careful planning and deliberation before making an EHR purchase.
What’s broken? The first step in the purchasing process is to figure out what you need. Ask the following questions about your practice:
What would “fixed” look like?
Once areas of frustration and inefficiency are identified, consider how an EHR could fix these problems. For example:
How do they stack up?
After you’ve composed your list of problems and solutions, you can compare different vendors/products based on how well they will meet your needs. Vendors should also be able to tell you:
Once you’ve narrowed your EHR choices down to a small number, ask each vendor to arrange a site visit with a practice similar to yours that uses its EHR. Ask each practice:
What’s the price tag?
Cost should be only considered on products that meet your needs. Potential gains from a well-implemented EHR outweigh the cost, so focusing on cost first will possibly rule out the best products.
Remember that you get what you pay for. Viewing an EHR purchase as a chance to improve your practice rather than as another unwelcome expense is the best way to make sure your money is well spent.
Robert Lamberts, MD, who is board-certified in internal medicine and pediatrics, practices in Augusta, Ga. His practice won the 2003 Davies Award for outstanding application of IT in a primary-care setting, and he has lectured extensively on EHR. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared in the November 2009 issue of Physicians Practice.