If you’re thinking about switching electronic health record (EHR) systems, Purdue Healthcare Advisors (PHA) urges caution.
“Entering into a contract with an EHR vendor is similar to a marriage; lots of thought and planning should occur in advance to avoid a painful and costly divorce later,” explained Allison Bryan PHA field operations manager. “Changing EHR systems is up 10 percent nationwide and 31 percent overall, with the primary complaint by providers being insufficient and/or inappropriate features.”
PHA offers these suggestions when considering another EHR system:
- Do your research – Talk to colleagues with similar practices to understand their systems. Visit their clinics and see if their EHRs will meet your specific needs.
- Have realistic expectations – No EHR system is perfect, as one size cannot fit all. Understanding your priorities, as well as where you are willing to be flexible, will help you select a product that aligns with your needs.
- Data transfer is glitchy at best – Realize early that practice management data may convert more easily. However, structured data will most likely be converted as an image (i.e. PDF) or will need to be manually uploaded into the new system. Are you prepared for this inconvenience?
- Meeting meaningful use – Verify that the new vendor is certified by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) – either ONC 2011/2014 or ONC 2014. If not, question their timing. Without this updated certification, physicians will not be eligible to attest using that product in 2014 – regardless of the stage of meaningful use.
If you are already a meaningful user and transition during a reporting period, you may need to manually manipulate this data in preparation for attestation, as data is needed from both systems. Also, be sure to keep reports and other documentation from both systems for audit purposes.
- Read the fine print – Carefully review all contracts for any hidden costs associated with the product. Stage 2 requires transferring data, information exchanges and patient portals.
Are there additional costs for these interfaces? Are there any additional product components needed to ensure proper functionality?
Do your research now to ensure you can afford the product.
For questions about your own EHR decisions, contact Bryan here or call (765) 496-9791.
Learn more about Purdue Health Advisors on their website.
If you’re considering an EHR purchase, here’s some help
If you’ve not yet purchased an electronic health record (EHR) system, or if you’re considering replacing your current one, resources from federal agencies offer you some free assistance. Check out the new resources before you contract or purchase.
Westat, a contractor for the federal Office of the National Coordinator has prepared a 25-page guide that discusses key terms in EHR or software contracts that you need to know. “EHR Contracts: Key Contract Terms for Users to Understand" offers advice on warranties and disclaimers, dispute resolution, indemnification – and much more.
Access the document here.
Also, SK&A, a firm contracted with U.S. Health and Human Services, issued a report in January that lists the most frequently used EHR software – broken down by number of physicians at the location, average patient daily volume, specialty, region, etc.
Find this report here.