Purchasing an EHR is an important decision that involves a lot of planning and research. With over 500 EHR software suppliers, it is a tall order to figure out which one will be the best fit for your eye care practice. To start, think about some of the goals your practice hopes to accomplish with an EHR, and then identify a vendor that can meet your requirements. To help shape some of your goals, follow these 5 tips when selecting an EHR software.
1. Assess Your Needs
Before you start shopping for an EHR, it is important to know what your practice needs. Create a list of specific features your EHR should have and rank them by importance. Some key features include e-prescribing, a patient portal, review of systems, and graphical annotation. On top of having these features, you should also think about enhanced functionality, such as ease of use. Do you have tech savvy staff that are comfortable with using new software? Do you have to go through multiple clicks to get a simple job done? What about accessibility? Would you prefer to work on a system that is optimized for tablet use? Assessing your needs and wants will eliminate a big portion of EHR vendors.
2. Select a Reliable EHR Software Vendor
Does your vendor specialize in the eyecare industry? What does their track record look like? How about their reputation? These are some questions you should ask before choosing a vendor. Reading reviews and industry publications and talking to other ODs are good places to start before requesting a demo. These sources will help you choose a vendor that you can trust and you can be certain they'll be around for the long haul. With any new service, there are bound to be a couple hiccups along the way. Waiting until you actually need help to find out if your vendor really has you in mind is risky.
3. Choose a Fully Integrated System
Think about your workflow. How many different processes does it take to complete your workflow? Are you using a computer calendar to manage scheduling, using paper charts for eye exams, and communicating to patients through email? Different processes can create inconsistency in records. It is not only important to get an EHR, but also a full solution that includes a practice management system to streamline your workflow.
Are you already using third party tools to manage other aspects of your workflow such as claim filing and optical dispensing? By making sure that these programs are already embedded into your practice management and EHR solution, you wont have to deal with installations, importing data, and paying for separate programs, saving both time and money.
4. Make Sure the EHR Software is Certified
Did you know you could earn up to $39,000 if you participate in the Meaningful Use Incentive Program this year? But to be eligible for Meaningful Use, you need a certified EHR. But here's where it gets tricky. Systems that are certified for 2011 are only compliant with Stage 1 of the incentive program but if you are planning to participate in all 3 stages of the program, you will need to find a system that is 2014 certified in order to attest for both Stage 1 and Stage 2.
There are also two types of certification: complete or modular. If your system is complete it means that the system has met all criteria for the final rule of Meaningful Use. A modular system, on the other hand, has only met some of the criteria. This means that if you decide to use a modular system, it may take multiple systems to fulfill the clinical quality measures, core, and menu objectives of the EHR Incentive Program.
5. Select a Platform That Works for You
If you are using a client-server EHR system that utilizes an on-premise server, it is your practice's responsibility to deal with hardware purchases, security, and upgrades. Client-servers have limited storage space and all backup must be completed manually. Do you have the resources to spend on IT infrastructure and maintenance?
The concept of SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), or cloud-based EHR, is becoming an increasingly popular alternative. Unlike client-server systems, there are no heavy upfront costs and little to no hardware purchases. All that is needed to access the EHR system is an Internet connection from an Internet browser. Security, maintenance, and upgrades are taken care of by the vendor, which also means that it is important to find a reliable vendor (see point 1). Cloud vendors must follow several government regulations, such as HIPAA compliance, so you can always be confident that your data is secure. In reality, it is very expensive and difficult for your practice to protect your data as securely as a cloud hosting facility could.
Keep in mind these 5 tips when you're trying to choose the perfect EHR software for your practice and you can be confident that the EHR that you've chosen is right for your practice!
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