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Pointers for Choosing Electronic Medical Software for Your Practice

Among the most critical requirements for the success of any medical practice is an efficient electronic medical records (EMR) program. Although there are benefits to having a huge variety of these applications today, the variety makes it harder to choose. But it can be easier with some useful pointers in mind.

Here are few things you should consider when selecting EMR software for your medical practice:

First off, you need to decide if you want to host both the hardware and the software yourself. Application service providers (ASPs) have their own servers on which they maintain software they license out, which can be accessed by users via the Internet. This is a suitable option for small practices with low upfront costs and less IT responsibilities. Some ASPs offer systems that are locally hosted, meaning the server will be sited in your office and maintenance procedures will also be performed there. In any case, having another entity manage your patient data has its risks, so you have to iron out data ownership and business continuity issues before committing to any ASP.

Typically, picking a system for a small practice also often begins with product demonstrations. Vendors may not want to undergo a formal RFP process with a small practice. You should have no less than five prospective systems for review. Work with other local doctors if possible. Consider collaborating with them to ease the choosing process and even provide leverage with the vendors.

Whether you plan to go alone or not, it’s important to follow an established selection system. This is the only way to ensure that you can evaluate the systems consistently, making effective apples-to-apples comparisons, and not being distracted by different vendors’ pitches.

A good way to start is by assigning a selection team that will be in-charge of reviewing your prospective systems. Make sure the group is composed of at least one representative from each department that will be using the system, such as quality improvement, nursing, billing, IT, and the rest. Then come up with a list of questions to ask as each candidate EMR software is reviewed. Use an evaluation matrix or any other similar tool that will allow you to thoroughly and systematically study each feature and functionality. This will also help guarantee that you will not miss any areas. Then compare the solutions in terms of workflow, ease of use, and cost.

Lastly, the entire staff must be involved during product demos. Since everyone’s needs should be satisfied, you’d like to make them part of the evaluation process as much as possible. Don’t let the salesperson “drive” the product during a demo. Instead, use specific scenarios based on actual patient visits to know how the system really fits your workflow. This is the closest you can get to seeing how the system will likely be useful in your day-to-day operations.

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