Choosing the right electronic medical records (EMR) software for your organization can revolutionize your practice and lead to improved delivery of care, increased patient confidence and compliance, and significant time and cost savings. Demonstrations of these packages, also known as electronic health records (EHR) systems, offer a valuable resource for determining which program will work best for your practice.
However, what you get out of each EHR demo depends on what you put into it. The more thought and preparation you invest, the more relevant information will be provided. Otherwise, you might find yourself listening to a canned marketing pitch that fails to address your needs.
To help you properly evaluate EHR software systems, here are some tips on how you and your staff can get the most out of each demo.
Understand Your Priorities and Requirements
First, determine what your priorities are. These dictate which software features are required and can make or break a deal.
Next, communicate these needs to your vendor ahead of time so they can customize the EHR demo to address your concerns. Meanwhile, create a checklist of your required features and priorities.
During the demo, go through the checklist and make sure everything is covered to your satisfaction. Ask plenty of questions. If the vendor says about an application, “It’s possible, but I can’t show you in a demo,” then ask whether another client has done something similar and whether you may contact that client for a reference. You could also request that the application be shown in a follow-up demo, if possible.
Explore the System’s Functionalities outside the Exam Room
Much of the pizzazz revolves around the patient exam, but equally important gains are found beyond the patient visit. For instance:
How does the software handle creation and sharing of charts? This will greatly influence its usability among health care providers.
Does the prescription function integrate smoothly into your practice’s and local pharmacies’ processes? This applies to both initial prescriptions and prescription renewal.
Will the messaging and communication systems improve reporting times and workflow? Strong systems will efficiently and easily send test results, in an easy-to-read format, both within the office and to other providers’ offices.
How intuitive and useful is the “Home” page? Also called a “Desktop” or “Dashboard,” it typically provides links to the most often used pages and incoming messages.
Does the schedule integrate well with the patient information module and the practice management system? If so, this will eliminate double data entry and streamline processes.
How easy is it to find the patient’s insurance details? Readily available information will help you direct your patient to an appropriate testing center or specialist for ancillary services and referrals.
Remember the 80/20 Rule: 20 percent of the scenarios tend to occupy 80 percent of your time and resources. As you explore the possibilities of each software package, avoid worrying about how the software will accommodate the rare problem. Since no system can possibly address every possible situation, focus on the most common scenarios instead and how the EMR software functions within those parameters.
At first glance, these hints might seem daunting, but following these steps before the EMR demo begins can prevent headaches, inefficiencies and wasted resources later on. Investing a little extra time now will pay off big when it’s time to install and adjust to a new electronic health records system.