EMR Vendor Selection Guide
There are over 300 EMR vendors that offer EMR solutions, as well as several ways to implement it. It is easy for a physician to get overwhelmed by the choices that are available. It is no surprise that physicians undergo a fairly anxious period before choosing the 'right' EMR Vendor and solution.
To make the EMR vendor selection process less overwhelming, it is important to break down the selection process into smaller steps that can be tackled easily.
1. List your high-priority EMR Solution needs.
It is clear that changes which save time and improve quality and efficiency are a good place to start. You should be specific about the recurring instances of wasted time (pulling charts or calling the pharmacy), lost money (under-coding), diminished record-keeping quality, and personal frustration that plague your practice most, and include those items that will help alleviate these issues.
2. List the EMR solution features and ancillary requirements most likely to meet those needs.
RevenueXL works with you to identify the key functions that you consider important for your EMR solution to perform well. Consider features and functionality, the support that will be provided, and strategic direction of the vendor vis-à-vis the product. For example, if the vendor is focusing on developing deep capabilities in your specialty, that is of particular interest. You may also consider the market penetration of the vendor. Ensure that the EMR System is compatible with the Practice Management System that you currently use. Keep track of the total costs including the hardware – computers etc. together with the software. Download RevenueXL's free article on Top 10 Electronic Medical Records Software Features for every Physician.
3. Think about future requirements of your EMR Solution
Even though you may not have any significant changes on the horizon, it is important to consider changes most likely to the organization: addition of new or termination of existing providers, adding new specialty, any possibility of sharing records with external parties (hospitals), etc.
4. Create a numerical EMR Vendor Score Card
Assign weightage to each functional requirement that you have defined under items 1, 2 and 3 above depending on how important that requirement is for you specifically. Develop a simple scoring system (1-5) and assign a score to each category based on how well that product performs. Ensure that all vendors are evaluated based on the same list.
5. Get a buy-in from all providers and staff to ensure successful implementation of your EMR Solution
As they say ‘to change is difficult but not to change is fatal’. Any EMR solution implementation will hit roadblocks if the entire team is not committed to making it successful. Another area that needs attention is the workflow through the clinic (which can change when EMR is implemented). Identify a champion who will bring along all the providers and the staff and help optimize the workflow in the Clinic.
6. Create a short list of EMR Vendors
After defining your list of functional requirements, create a short-list of vendors you might want to investigate in more depth. Some EMR vendors can be eliminated quickly if they are new in the market or do not deal with a certain size practice or your specialty. RevenueXL recommends that you review blogs which discuss the experience of professionals with particular vendors and their implementation progress. You may also review the websites of vendors or speak to senior executives of short-listed EMR companies to gain insights into technological maturity of the vendor, investment in product development, number of total clients and installations, physician consultant advisors on staff, etc.
7. Test drive each EMR System using common scenarios
Once you have shortlisted a couple of EMRs, follow through with a demo of each shortlisted EMR. Allow for sufficient time so that you can simulate some real life scenario of documenting a patient visit. All EMR vendors who are selected should be put through similar sequence of steps.
8. Obtain two or three references from each shortlisted EMR vendor
Ensure that the references are from a Practice of similar size and specialty. It is preferable to have the references in the same geography so that you and your staff can visit the reference facility and see the EMR system being used in day to day operation.
9. Fully develop initial implementation plan and technical support with the selected EMR vendor.
Insist on a completely defined implementation plan including development and testing of all external interfaces including billing software (if applicable), labs and ePrescription. This should include clear definition of roles and responsibilities of all the parties responsible for software and hardware installation, updates, training, etc.