So, is it time to break up with your EHR vendor?
Weâ€™ve talked about the good, the bad, and the ugly EHR stories weâ€™ve heard over the years. If your experience falls into the â€śbadâ€ť or the â€śuglyâ€ť categories, you may want to consider breaking up with your EHR vendor.
Here are the top 6 reasons medical practices’ relationships with their vendors end up on the rocks:
- Implementation woes. Implementation is incomplete and staff members are not fully trained. The practice is stuck halfway between using charts and using the EHR system, resulting in workflow disruption and misplaced patient data. The practice may also be in a position where the implementation budget has been consumed halfway through the process, and the full installation of the EHR looks like a money pit. In addition, the EHR vendor hasnâ€™t been responsive to the practiceâ€™s requests for improved and complete implementation, nor has it proactively approached the practice with a solution to get them fully functional on the EHR system.
- Usability issues. The EHR is cumbersome, has too many windows, and requires too many clicks. Worst of all, it requires too much thoughtâ€”all this imposes a â€ścognitive burdenâ€ť on physicians. The EHR does not deliver a seamless experience and physicians find themselves torn away from thinking about patients so they can focus additional attention on drop-downs and clicking. Prior to using the EHR, many physicians wrote prescriptions while speaking with patientsâ€”it was second nature and easy to accomplish. By placing additional cognitive burdens on physicians, the EHR fails to provide the same comfort and ease, which detracts from the physician-patient relationship.
- Workflow disruption. Physician and staff productivity suffer because the EHR system does not fit the practiceâ€™s workflow needsâ€”patient volume decreases while data entry workload increases. Physicians and medical staff now spend more time each day entering data than providing the patient care for which they were trained.
- Lack of support. Somewhere along the way, communication with the EHR vendor disappears. It now takes days or weeks to receive a response to calls for supportâ€”and sometimes calls and support tickets go unanswered altogether.
- Lack of EHR benefits. The practice-wide improvements that were promised by the EHR vendor are not delivered. Instead, the system creates a long-lasting negative impact, including practice-wide inefficiency, a decrease in patient volume and satisfaction, unforeseen increased expenses, and decreased profits.
- Decreased quality of life. The EHR creates extra work that not only keeps physicians and medical staff in the office after hours playing â€ścatch up,â€ť but also creates a more stressful work environment for both staff and patients during the day.
If any of the above sounds familiar, it may be time for you to break up with your EHR vendor and make lemonade out of your EHR lemon.
So, how do you break up with your EHR vendor?
Parting ways with your EHR vendor doesnâ€™t have to be a difficult, stressful ordeal. Here are the 4 items you’ll need to review to make the process easier:
- Get everyone in your practice on board with the decision. Having everyone support the decision to terminate your relationship with your current EHR vendor will make it much easier to move forward. If you meet resistance with any staff member, create a laundry list of the problems your practice is experiencing with the EHR system and present it to the resistant staff member to emphasize the stark reality of the situation and the resulting consequences.
- Carefully review your EHR contract. Read your EHR contract thoroughly. Were you guaranteed certain services that were not delivered for which you can hold the EHR vendor liable? Or are there any binding restrictions or termination penalties written into the contract? Make note of all the fine print and consider input from a legal expert in the healthcare IT field. Covering all your bases in advance will help move the process along.
- Decide what you will do with your data. Will you return to paper charts or do you plan to migrate the digital data over to another EHR? Map out a plan when it comes to your patient data. Many EHR vendors have special transfer pricing and can work with your current vendor to migrate the data over to the new EHR. Perform your EHR search again from the beginningâ€”this time, you know exactly what will work for your practiceâ€”and narrow down your choices. Collect transfer pricing information and options before contacting your current EHR vendor.
- Call your EHR vendor and play hardball. With all your ducks in a row, call your EHR vendor and give them one last chance to fix the problem(s) you are experiencing. If they donâ€™t, let them know you are not satisfied and you plan on switching to another vendor. If you face a penalty for ending the relationship, suggest an addendum to the current contract waving the termination penalty in return for a non-disclosure agreement. (After all, word of mouth recommendationsâ€”or warningsâ€”to peers can make or break a purchase in the EHR industry.)
Nobody wants to be stuck in a bad relationshipâ€”the same goes for relationships with EHR vendors. With so many EHR systems available on the market, finding one that suits your clinical workflow and productivity needs is a much better option than sticking with the inefficient EHR system you may currently have.
Don’t settle for less, find the right EHR match for your practice.