Navigating the electronic health record technology market is a dizzying task. The options are virtually endless. And while some platforms cater to specific types of practices, helping you narrow down your list a bit, others take a “We do it all!” approach and make the selection process even more difficult.
Regardless of whether you’re switching from paper to digital recordkeeping for the first time or you’re dissatisfied with your current EHR platform, it’s important to evaluate your needs before you start shopping around. Here are seven components that should appear on your EHR checklist to weed out a lot of products on the market and make sure you benefit as much as possible from the one you ultimately choose.
Each practitioner has their own specific needs when it comes to documenting their time spent with patients and analyzing how that time impacts their bottom line. These needs vary by the practitioner’s specialty, the type of facility in which they work, the context in which they’re meeting with patients, and more. Therefore, your EHR platform should be ready to cater to multiple use cases and offer customization options. At the very least, it should come equipped with a collection of progress note templates that can be optimized for smart data entry, as well as standard reports that can be configured to showcase your practice’s data in insightful ways.
Plenty of EHR platforms are equipped with lots of features you need, as well as lots of features that you don’t need. These “extras” may seem like they add value to the technology, but often, they force you to deal with extra workarounds and unnecessary steps to complete what should be a basic task. Be aware that feature lists, while seemingly impressive, can actually prohibit your productivity. Ask yourself what exactly you need your EHR technology to help you do more efficiently and select one that matches that description as closely as possible.
The value of your EHR platform diminishes significantly if it doesn’t allow you to communicate digitally with the systems that your partnering facilities use. If you’re a practitioner who spends any number of your working hours outside of your own office, consult with the administrators of the facilities you serve to determine the platforms with which your EHR should be able to connect. Even when you’re simply sharing progress notes files between practitioners, avoiding faxes, emails, and phone calls can make a world of difference in how you run your business.
You ultimately determine your own strategy when it comes to your return on investment, but your EHR needs to be able to support that strategy. Consider how the technology could assist you in maximizing your reimbursements, efficiently billing your patients, and even participating in programs conducted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) like the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). Certain platforms have proprietary tools or external partnerships to help with these aspects of
running a medical business successfully, while others do not.
Compliance is a big buzzword in the EHR technology world – and with good reason. It’s one thing to design a user-friendly interface, and it’s another entirely to ensure that it’s compliant with mandatory regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). So, before you commit to a particular EHR platform, make a list of all the ways in which your practice needs to remain compliant. For instance, make sure that your EHR of choice is certified with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). If you don’t see that seal, pick another EHR.
One of the biggest concerns when switching from paper to an EHR platform or leaving one system for another is data privacy. It is at the core of every practitioner’s job, and you face major penalties and fines if personal health information (PHI) or personally identifiable information (PII) is compromised within your recordkeeping. Digital services can be a great way to safeguard against such data breaches, but poorly designed platforms can also increase such risks. Plan on giving extra vetting attention to a platform’s various security features before committing to a contract.
Don’t underestimate the value of solid support from your chosen EHR provider. Perhaps you have a large staff that will require onboarding and likely have lots of questions as they acclimate. Maybe you consider yourself to be less technologically-inclined and would feel more confident knowing that a designated technician is standing by 24/7 to help you with any issue you may face. No matter the case, consider what support services you would utilize most, and make sure that the EHR platform you pick can provide them (ideally at no additional cost).
Interested in learning more about the importance of picking the right EHR platform for you? Read this article about how the costs of ignoring these digital innovations can really add up for your practice.