Three Tips to Reboot, and Not Replace, Your EHR

November 14, 2014

If your practice is not getting the most out of its EHR, here are three tips to get your vendor to make it right.

Sometimes it's only after you say "I do" that you realize the relationship wasn't meant to be. When this happens with your EHR software, you may not have to go through a messy divorce.

If you're unhappy with your system, you may feel that you'll just have to ride it out until your contract is up, or if the problem is really bad, eat the investment and buy something you like better. You may be surprised to learn that in most cases you have room to negotiate. Jeffery Daigrepont, healthcare IT expert and vice president of the Coker Group, a healthcare industry advisory firm, said there are three main reasons practices want to kick their EHR systems to the curb.

He offered the following tips for what you can do if one of these problems is yours.

1. Inadequate implementation and training

Very often the problems aren't really with the system, but with how it was installed and how staff was trained. If you're frustrated because your system wasn't set up right, or your staff doesn't understand how to use it effectively, you can ask the vendor to address the issues that are giving you grief. If you have already taken advantage of all the free training that came with your software, you can ask the vendor to provide more. If you explain that you will not be able to renew your contract when it comes up again if the vendor doesn't make this right, it will probably be willing to provide you with additional training at no additional cost.

2. Defective software

If your EHR software is defective, you are certainly within your rights to ask the vendor to fix it. Find out how long the programming will take. Can your practice tolerate this delay? If not, ask your vendor to suspend your financial obligation until you are satisfied.

3. Discontinued software

Vendors often discontinue EHR software, and this can force you into a conflict since you won't be able to get new releases and updates. This is another opportunity for negotiation. If you have to replace your system before your contract is up, ask your vendor to credit the money you've spent so far toward a new system.

The important thing to keep in mind is that you probably have more room to negotiate than you think. Daigrepont suggested when making your negotiations, offer to sign a non-disclosure agreement. The vendor is more likely to make concessions to you if it is not concerned that all their customers will make similar demands. Don't assume you are stuck until you've tried negotiating.