Don’t Sit on the EHR Fence Too Long

When it comes time for medical practices to select an EHR, many physicians and administrators prefer to sit on the fence. They are waiting to see about the success or failure of their colleagues, and in many instances, they are waiting to see if the meaningful use incentive payments will actually be made.

Don't Sit on the EHR Fence Too LongWhile learning from the experience of others is always a smart technique, purchasers must be wary about waiting too long—especially if they have the government’s EHR incentives in mind.

Although physicians can receive the full EHR incentive payments if they begin reporting in 2012, there are many milestones that need to be passed first. Searching for the right EHR for your practice, implementing that EHR in your practice, and making sure your employees can successfully use the EHR system to demonstrate meaningful use—all need to be successfully accomplished before the start of your 90-day reporting period.

So how much time do you really have?
Not much at all—the last day to start demonstrating meaningful use and receive the full incentive payment is October 1, 2012. That means practices should look now and select an EHR solution no later than this fall.

Why the rush?
For a dedicated practice actively searching for an EHR, the average time it takes to research EHR vendors, receive information, schedule demonstrations, talk to references/colleagues, perform comprehensive due diligence, negotiate terms/conditions, and gain approval from practice leaders can take anywhere from 4 to 9 months in a rushed cycle.

Once an EHR vendor has been selected, implementation can be scheduled. However, there are numerous steps, timelines, and milestones that must be met here, too, before a practice can go live on the EHR system. The exact duration of implementation is dependent upon multiple factors, some of which include:

  • Vendor backlog
  • Amount of information to be digitized
  • Size of facility
  • Specialty (services offered at the facility)
  • Training/learning curve
  • Hardware/software

Only an EHR vendor with an experienced and professional staff dedicated to providing unparalleled customer service can seamlessly and successfully guide you through these crucial steps in time for October 1, 2012. The crush of orders that vendors are receiving due to the tight meaningful use timelines has created a vendor backlog and makes a fast implementation impossible. Many vendors boast a quick implementation timeline, but cannot deliver on their promise without disturbing practice efficiency, patient volume, and overall practice morale.

Don’t sit on the EHR fence too long. Invest your time wisely and research EHR vendors that have a proven track record of superior customer service and support. Keep in mind practical EHR implementation timelines when you are purchasing an EHR that best suit the needs of your physicians and medical staff. Rushing into an EHR implementation can have devastating consequences on your practice’s bottom line. Educate yourself and your practice about the requirements necessary to meet the meaningful use criteria set forth by the government.

To qualify for the full meaningful use incentives, waiting is no longer an option—it’s time to get serious about purchasing an EHR.

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