EHR Decisions, Decisions…

We all face daily decisions—from what to wear to the complexities of selecting a mutual fund for our 401k. It’s all about making the best informed choice at the right time.

It is so important when practices assess EHRs—a decision so fundamental to their success—that they use the utmost due-diligence and reasoned consideration. Yet time and time again, I see groups make EHR purchases based on narrowcast reasoning and flashy demonstrations. This often results in catastrophic productivity loss, despairing physicians, frantic staff, and unhappy patients.

It is surprising that many groups base their purchase decisions on the same flawed processes despite the ever-increasing failure rate of traditional point-and-click EHRs in high-volume practices. Whether a practice is making their first EHR purchase or looking to replace a system that is not working in their practice, they must expand their research and look beyond the bells and whistles.

Below are some recommendations for making a successful EHR purchase decision.

  • Look Past The Flash – Any good salesperson with a decent demonstration environment can give a good presentation, especially when it’s for the rushed 30 minutes we sometimes get with doctors before clinic hours. Make sure to see the totality of the workflow of a system, including how it supports every aspect of your clinical flow and not just documentation. Some additional questions to consider:
    • How does the system allow for flexibility in non-standard scenarios?
    • Does it allow for different levels and timing of adoption by providers?
    • Does it by design enable doctors to have multiple options for interaction with the EHR and documentation?
  • Expand Your Horizons – Don’t limit your focus to only 2-3 functions of the software, or to your specific area of use. Doing so may cause you to lose sight of the abilities, workflow, and quality of the system as a whole. There are too many practices struggling with their EHR who made purchases based on the frills and later found out the system could not support the operations and workflow of the entire practice.
  • Call Those References – Make sure that the product works as advertised, that it is adaptable and adoptable in real life, and that it offers the flexibility you need to make a diverse group of physicians happy. The only way to do that is to call and/or visit reference accounts. Make sure to ask for several options–any strong vendor should be able to provide at least 1-2 groups. The real truth lies with how satisfied and productive their user-base is as a whole.
  • Don’t Rely on RFPs Alone – RFP evaluations do one thing well–they check boxes. They present what the vendor feels they can do but you typically have no idea how they do it. Is it an unwieldy Rube Goldberg-like process to prescribe a refill? If they check the box and you don’t see it, you’ll never know. RFPs define capability, not ’usability’. The most important aspect of your evaluation should be determining the satisfaction of a company’s clients actually using the software, day-to-day. References should trump RFPs every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

The bottom line? Selecting the right EHR partner for your practice should not be a decision made lightly. Look at the full scope of the company–product, people, and processes. Implementing some of the ideas listed above will expand your due diligence and help you make a more informed—and successful—decision!


Ben Reynolds

National Sales Director



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