By the time you submit an RFPâ€”the document that helps you determine if an EHR has what you need to meet your EHR and practice goalsâ€”you’re serious about purchasing an EHR. RFPs are well intendedâ€”they are used to weed out inappropriate EHR contenders and to focus on asking the questions that are important for your practice.
Unfortunately, most RFPs do not address all the crucial topics and questions. In fact, many RFPs focus on the bells and whistles and other superficial components of an EHR, but donâ€™t address the most important factors that actually make or break a successful EHR adoption.
Wouldn’t it be nice to address those factors?
RFPâ€”the request for proposalâ€”itâ€™s an interesting choice of words. It’s nice to learn what vendors “propose,” but wouldn’t it be better to know what they will deliver? With the right questions, a generic RFP can transform into an RFDâ€”Request for Deliverables.
So, what’s missing to make your RFP an RFD?
Here are 5 critical categoriesâ€”and related questionsâ€”that should be included in an RFD. If these are given priority, you have a much greater chance of making the right EHR decision the first time around.
- How long will implementation take, what are all the required steps, and how soon can it begin?
- Can the EHR company guarantee a successful implementation with the amount of training time offered in their contract? Can the vendor provide an hours budget or an unlimited number of hours for a specified time period?
- What is the experience level of the implementation team that will be assigned to your practice?
- If your practice is not using the EHR successfully after the allotted training time, will the vendor provide extra hours of training for free or at a cost?
- If implementation fails, will the EHR vendor reimburse your purchase or take steps to make it successful?
A structured implementation timeline will help to set realistic expectations for your practice. An experienced and professional implementation team will make success more probable. Identifying additional training costs and securing reimbursement in the event of an implementation failure will save you from an unpleasant financial surprise to your bottom line.
2) Company size and bandwidth
- How many employees does the EHR vendor have?
- How many clients/customers are currently using their EHR product?
- What percent of the EHR vendor’s staff is dedicated to support, what is the staffâ€™s experience level, and what percent of the support staff have advanced Microsoft certifications?
- What percent of the EHR vendorâ€™s staff is dedicated to development and improving the product?
The bandwidth of the EHR company is extremely important. The EHR company should have a development department large enough to keep up with the rapidly changing government regulations that define how an EHR should work and how data should be shared. EHR companies with development teams that are too small will most likely not be able to keep up with these changes.
3) Efficiency and productivity
- How easy to learn and navigate is the EHR?
- How efficient is the EHR during a patient encounter?
- How many clicks does it take to do routine tasks like submitting electronic prescriptions, reviewing basic chart information, or documenting patient exams?
- How much time does it take to complete standard clinical workflows with the EHR system?
The amount of time and clicks it takes to move through a standard patient encounter is critical in a medical practiceâ€”conducting time/click comparisons among EHR vendors is a good way to measure EHR efficiency. It’s important that these efficiency comparisons be done by members of the medical practice and not demonstrated by a tech-savvy sales expert. Additional clicks and windows add a cognitive burden to physicians and hinder the seamless flow through patient encounters. Anything that distracts the physician’s focus from the patients benefits neither the practice nor the patients.
4) Support and customer service
- What is the process the vendor has in place for handling EHR problems?
- What is the response time of the EHR company after a support ticket is submitted?
- What is the average time needed for the support team to resolve an issue?
- How long does it take to get a â€śliveâ€ť support representative on the phone in an emergency?
- How does the vendor work proactively with clients to avoid problems?
- Is the EHR vendorâ€™s support department overseas?
Superior customer service and timely support should be the cornerstone of all EHR companiesâ€”support turnaround time is crucial to the workflow of your practice. Your RFD (RFP) should also include a box to put the EHR vendor’s KLAS rating.
- How many practices in your specialty are using the EHR system?
- How many practices is the vendor willing to provide as a reference?
Collecting EHR reference feedback is one of the most critical steps in the EHR search process. Providing 10-20 references will highlight the vendor’s experience in EHR implementations in practices similar to yours. Make sure your physicians call other physicians at random from each reference site.
Make RFPs more valuable to your EHR search process.
Include usability and performance questions that are not seen on typical RFPs. A well-crafted RFP (now RFD since you are measuring deliverables like usability and performance) will identify how the EHR performs, how the vendor handles client relations, and will give you true insight into whether the EHR will actually deliver on its proposal to your practice.