The EHR Selection Process: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

April 17, 2014

How to determine what to look for in an EHR and how to make a smart selection.

Beginning in 2015, providers that have not yet demonstrated meaningful use in the government's EHR incentive programs will receive a 1 percent penalty to Medicare reimbursement. In the last few months, our office has been inundated with calls requiring help sorting out the best suited EHR for practices. And with so many out there to choose from, I can see why.

Here are my answers to some of the common EHR selection-related questions I receive:

What goes in to choosing a suitable EHR?
In short, a lot.  Typically we start out with a wish list from the clinical staff, the front-office staff, the billing staff, and then a budget and analytics from the administrator/practice owners.  Our job then becomes to play matchmaker. We pick the best fit for the wish list and narrow the field from hundreds of companies, to three or so top candidates.

How do you choose with so many opinions?
Simple, we take what we know to be the most important aspects on the wish list. For example, getting an office paid is often really high on our priority list. We like a robust billing and analytics side. We also look ahead to the updates a company has slated on the horizon to ensure that we are meeting federal mandates and clinic needs.

Do we really need more than the basics to cover meaningful use?
No, you can skate by with just the bare bones of what you need to meet meaningful use requirements. There are even some good systems out there with a free version that can allow you to meet the requirements. However, moving your system into the digital age to include the practice management and billing side, will only save you time and money in the long run. Running a disjointed, half-paper, multi-system office will cause difficulties in work flow and make the move to digital much more difficult.

Can we do it without help?
Sure, but there are some major benefits to seeking assistance from an expert.

1. You and your office can meet with or teleconference with a single person, a single time and give them your list of wants, needs, concerns, and special considerations instead of parroting the same information to vendor after vendor.

2. Your expert can contact and sort through the hundreds of EHR companies out there and determine a concise list that serves your needs and specialty most appropriately. 

3. Your expert will handle all of the necessary preliminary software demos and meetings.

4. Your expert will arrange for you to view and choose from a minimal list of companies/systems based on your specific needs and requests.

5. Your expert will stay by your side and help to negotiate pricing, warranty, tech support; arrange implementation; and assist you and your staff in getting everything started and converted.

If you aren’t already, now is the time to get on the road to compliance.