EDUCATIONAL SERIES: Tips to consider when choosing an EMR

Choosing and converting to an EMR system can be over whelming. Here are 8 tips for choosing a new EMR  system.
By Dan Crane, M.B.A.

Knowing the purpose of your new EMR system first is key. Knowing specifics of how you need it to operate will help in the decision of choosing your EMR system. Are you a specialty clinic such as Pain Management, Dermatology, or Neurology? The needs of these specialties are unique and require specific software characteristics to be efficient. Customized EMR systems give you
specialty-specific features and customized templates that will help immensely with your practice workflow.
2. Make a List
Start by making a list of all requirements your practice needs. This may include, automatic billing, scheduling features, e-Prescribing, patient portal, and lab integration.
It is important when choosing a new EMR/EHR system to involve all the physicians and staff in the office in the development of making the list. This ensures that all aspects of office flow have been considered. However, a decision like this requires leadership and understanding of the needs of the practice. It is advised that a physician is in charge of the overall decision.
3. Budget
Besides the initial cost for the EMR system, which can be costly, there  is also hardware, implementation, training, integration, and maintenance expenses to consider when purchasing a new system. The benefits of an EMR system long term, however, will help your practice save money.
4. Systems Structure
The system architecture of the EMR software, web-based or client/server, is something that also should be considered. One type is not better than the other, yet, one may be better for your practice. Ease of use, performance, utilization, and reliability is important. When choosing an EMR software you will need to consider which will best exemplify these characteristics for the needs of your practice’s workflow.
In addition, make sure that whichever EMR system you choose to go with has been certified as an  ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Body (“ONC-ATCB”).
5. Get Advice
The best way to know if an EMR system may be the right one for your practice workflow is to see it in use. If possible, you may want to visit a practice that is currently using the EMR software you are considering to use. Talking to physicians and the staff will help you better understand the EMR you are considering and spot if there are any potential issues you will run into.
Having an understanding of what type of support you will be receiving with the EMR software is important. You may need support after-hours, or even weekends, if your practice has irregular office hours. The majority will offer 24/7 support.  The extent of support you will receive should be understood. Not only is the technical assistance crucial, but in the future, you may need additional help in installing new features, upgrades, and fixing software bugs. These should questions should be asked before purchasing the EMR.
7.Review The Agreement
Purchasing an EMR is a big commitment. Having a lawyer to review the agreement to ensure that the contact includes everything that was promised can ease your mind. They will be able to help you understand the costs, and any additional fees that could be associated the purchase of the EMR Software. Also be sure to review the cancellation terms, in case it is does not meet your expectations.
8. Transition and Installation
After initial installation of the new electronic medical records system, transitioning your medical records on to it can take a lot time and effort. Do not underestimate the time that will be necessary. Manually scanning or inputting paper records onto the new system most likely will be necessary. Hiring additional help may be needed during this time as it can be time-consuming and be disruptive to daily work flow. It is recommended that fewer scheduled appointments be made during this process.
CE Medical Group specializes in practice management for Interventional Pain Management groups. Visit our website to learn more about our services.