We are here to make sure you spend your money in the right place. We do software; we sell it, build it, breathe it and love it. We will evaluate what the market offers, current trends and common pitfalls that EMR adoptions fall into. We are not affiliated with any Electronic Medical Record (EMR) company. We are experts in software adaptation and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) analysis. We are good people to know when you are evaluating any software package that will change the way you do business.
After creating a manageable list of potential EMR companies, you will need to find a way to compare the feature sets offered in each tool. A simple method of comparison is to create an Excel file with a list of features down the left side and a list of EMR companies across the top. An Internet search will also find Excel files such as this already built, which can be used as a good starting point. Once you have the file, fill in the details of each software company as you participate in an online or live demo of the EMR software product.
The biggest challenge that a doctor faces in selecting an EMR is asking the right questions of the software vendor during a demo. Avoid asking yes and no questions that can easily be misinterpreted. Asking how an EMR vendor accomplishes a task provides better information and helps avoid what I call "sales miscommunications." For example, most EMR vendors can respond yes to the question, Do you support voice recognition software? A set of very different and more detailed responses will entail if you ask the question: How do you support voice recognition software? This type of open-ended question requires vendors to describe their system and gives you a better understanding of how they have implemented a certain process or procedure.
Another valuable method for evaluating EMR software is to visit the office of a doctor who has fully implemented that EMR. Make sure that the site you visit belongs to someone fully immersed in the EMR software. It is one thing to have played with the software and another to be using that software as an integral part of the practice. Seeing the software in action and talking with users who use it daily often opens up new perspectives about the usability of an EMR.
Another suggestion is to ask an EMR vendor to do what could be called an EMR configuration demo. Most EMR demos are done on carefully refined systems designed and configured to illustrate the best features of an EMR. The important question is how much work was required to set up the demo system. A configuration demo helps you better understand the work required to configure the selected EMR into a usable state. Questions about configuring the EMR are also very good to ask during the site visit mentioned above.
One final suggestion is to involve all your users in the decision-making process. An EMR affects the front office, medical records, and the nursing staff's jobs in significant ways, too. By inviting them to be involved in the selection process, you will face less resistance to change when the time arrives to actually convert from paper charts to EMRs.
With current EMR market penetration so small, thousands of clinics and doctors will be going through the EMR selection process. By focusing on a small set of successful EMR companies and asking good questions, selecting an EMR can be an exciting process. A good software choice is nothing short of magic.
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