Five Things to Know when Purchasing an Electronic Medical Records Solution

Here is some advice on what not to do if you are forming an llc. It is widely accepted, that the uses of an electronic medical records solution has proven to reduce costs to healthcare providers. An expected result of using an EMR is that medical errors from missing or incomplete patient data, duplicate services, and other inefficacies will be reduced or eliminated.
The terms EMR and EHR are often used interchangeably. EMR or electronic medical records replaces patient paper charts with digital forms. EHR or electronic health records can contain patient data compiled from multiple healthcare providers’ EMRs. EHR includes the EMR digital forms such as x-rays, MRIs and CT scans.

The interaction of multiple sources of medical data creating a portable EHR is a goal of the HITECH Act. For practices considering EHR adoption and wanting to qualify for Federal Government incentives, it’s important to understand the provisions of the HITECH Act concerning “meaningful use” of a “certified” EHR.

According to Athenahealth Company these terms have yet to be defined. Since both provisions are still being finalized by the Federal Government and other considerations have to be made- the following five things are important to follow when purchasing an EHR solution:

First, make sure you are comfortable using and supporting the technology in question. Is your hardware and network going to be upgraded? Will the data be stored locally or on another company’s computers? Make sure you understand who is going to provide support and what it will cost.

Second, be careful of buying a product that changes the way you see patients. I have seen physician’s offices that had to change the workflow and patient encounter methods that were used for years. As a result, some employees were unhappy with the EHR solution. Often, major features are a great selling point, but it is the little things that can cause problems.

Third, make sure you are buying a solution from a company with the resources, customers and product lifecycles to be around for the long term. Recently, after we installed an EHR solution, the software company went out of business. Luckily, the product has remained functional and we are able to provide support without help from the manufacturer. Always call, and visit if feasible, anyone who uses the product you are considering. Also, search on the Internet for any information related to that product and company.

Fourth, the HITECH Act states that in order for a physician to be reimbursed by the Federal Government for EHR adoption, they must show “meaningful use” of a “certified” EHR. Until these provisions are finalized, it is false for a company to claim that they meet or will meet these requirements in the future. If qualifying for Federal Government incentives is an important factor in your decision, wait to purchase until these terms are defined.

Finally, be realistic about the time it will take to implement an EHR solution. The time it takes to choose an install a solution depends on the product, support and most importantly, you and your staff. Will you gradually phase in an EHR solution or set a start date for the change? Should you scan and digitize all of your practice records or start using the program on new patients only? A lot will depend on your existing staff’s ability to master its use and their acceptance of the changes in the way you run your practice.

Failure to follow these important steps can often mean a time consuming and expensive path to EHR adoption. Therefore, purchasing the correct EHR solution requires technology vendors, healthcare providers, payers and ultimately patients, to be informed and involved in the process.

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