EHR Vendor Relations: 4 Tips to Better Communication

September 15, 2014

One of the keys to successful implementation of EHRs is good communications with your vendor. Here are four tips to a better dialogue.

During the process of choosing, purchasing, and installing your EHR system, your practice dealt mostly with the sales department. Once you are using the software on a daily basis, you'll want to start a relationship with your vendor's technical support team. Communicating with tech support might not be as easy as you would hope, however. Here are a few tips to help you make sure communications with your EHR vendor are clear and effective.

Speak the Same Language
Both you and the tech-support team speak English. But you also speak medicine, and they speak computer. Try to be as clear as possible when explaining any problems or asking questions, keeping in mind that medical terminology that is second-nature to you, may be Greek to them. And don't be intimidated by computer-speak. If you don't understand something, ask for an explanation. And keep asking until you understand.

Keep Records
It's likely that you'll have customizations and add-ons to your software. Keep careful records of any upgrades or new configurations that have been made to your system, said Steven Waldren, director of the American Academy of Family Physicians' Alliance for eHealth Innovation. Being able to give this information to tech support could save hours when it comes to diagnosing and fixing a problem.

Appoint a Liaison

Fletcher Lance, vice president and national healthcare leader at consulting firm North Highland, suggests designating one person in your practice to be the primary contact with your vendor. And, if possible, get your vendor to assign a specific tech-support team member to your account. The better you know each other the easier it will be to communicate.

Don't Wait For a Crisis

"Some problems are ASAP problems, ones that have to be dealt with in a hurry," said Waldren, "but others can wait." He suggested keeping a list of less urgent problems and setting aside a regular time each week to go over them with your tech support contact. "It's also a good idea to have an internal huddle on a regular basis," said Waldren. "Different people have different expertise, and staff members can share what they've learned. Sometimes you may not even have to call the vendor."