The Pros and Cons of Switching EHRs

March 24, 2016

If your practice is wondering whether it should keep or change its EHR system, there are pluses and minuses to each route.

If you're not happy with your EHR system, making a change is not easier said than done. Take some time to weigh the pros and cons before a making this big decision.

"The advantage of keeping a sub-par EHR is that you don't have to go through the arduous process of changing EHRs," says Wanda D. Filer, a family physician at Family First Health in York, Pa., who is also president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. "However, one of the biggest disadvantages of keeping an EHR you don't like is that it tells the staff that they're not worth the investment in a better solution. Don't avoid making a switch because of the effort involved or the money you've already spent."

The advantage of making a change is that you'll hopefully pick a system that's more compatible with your needs. "Because you have the experience of what doesn't work in your current system, you can look for one that works better for your needs,” says John Meigs, Jr., a family physician at Bibb Medical Associates in Centreville, Ala., who is president-elect of the AAFP.

Filer's organization ultimately decided to change EHRs because, "the software was an unmitigated disaster. It was an incredibly expensive and time-intensive project to undertake, but I'm absolutely glad we switched EHRs."

Meigs, who has supported the use of EHRs for more than 20 years, hasn't liked any of the EHRs he's used. "Our current system takes too many clicks to do basic things, and the data isn't displayed in a way that is useful for patient care," he says. "The advantage to sticking with the devil you know is just that - you know what issues, challenges, and hassles you have to face."

Karen Appold is a medical writer in Pennsylvania. E-mail her at editor@physicianspractice.com.

This article was originally published in the March 2016 issue of Physicians Practice.