If you are wondering how to choose an Electronic Health Record (EHR) software, follow these tips to have the best chance of finding the right one for you:

10205775 l resized 6001.       Don’t do it alone: assemble your team

Don’t make the mistake that other agencies, schools, and programs have made, which is to have a small group of administrators or IT staff, make the decision alone.

Because each area will have different needs, you will need the shared vision and input of your entire team:

  • Clinicians
  • Clerical staff
  • Faculty
  • Administrators
  • Analysts
  • IT staff
  • Students
  • Any others

2.       Think outside the box: one size does not fit all

Your agency, school, or program has unique documentation and reporting needs.

What may work for one group may not work for another.

Although it is important to reach out to colleagues who do similar work to discuss what EHR system they are using and why, remember that you know your needs the best.

One agency may need a lot of “bells and whistles” while another may not.

Just as importantly, consider what documentation, reporting, and research needs you anticipate having in the future.

This concept is called scalability—you want your software to grow with you and your needs over time.

3.       Create an RFP (Request for Proposal): make a list of criteria

Narrow your EHR software vendor options to your top picks, then ask for references from current users of their programs.

Ensure this list includes long term, short term, and mid-term customers, and preferably customers whose agency size and mission are the same as yours.

When you contact them, ask for a copy of any RFP (Request for Proposal) or evaluation tool they developed when they were considering different vendors and software options.

See if they have a list of suggested questions for vendors. The internet is another excellent source for RFP forms.

When creating your RFP, you want to make sure it includes details related to:

  • Cost
  • IT specifications
  • Training
  • Ease of use
  • Ability to customize
  • Vendor support during and after implementation
  • Vendor experience
  • Security
  • Privacy features (including HIPAA)
  • Activity tracking
  • Reporting features
  • What standardized terminologies are used (See related blog article on Standardized Terminology—Why is it Important?)describe the image

4.       Initiate an RFP review process: narrow the choices

When you receive RFPs back from the vendors you are considering, have every team member review each RFP and rank them individually.

Provide your short list of vendors with a variety of typical client scenarios (such as case studies) that you would like to see in a return demonstration.

During vendor demonstrations, watch for red flags such as:

  • Frozen screens
  • Pop up warnings
  • Keyboard issues

These could be signs of a problem application. Be very direct with the vendor and ask why these are occurring.

Follow these four tips and you will be well on your way to finding the right EHR software for your agency!

Reference: http://mhcc.maryland.gov/electronichealth/cmsdemo/Selecting%20an%20EHR%20122809.pdf, accessed 10/13/11.