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There are several features to look for to ensure you purchase the right EHR system and successfully integrate it into your practice. Finding the right EHR for your practice depends on a number of factors:

Top 10 factors to consider when choosing an EHR

  1. Practice size: When evaluating electronic health record (EHR) systems, it's crucial to take into account the size of your practice, including the number of healthcare providers you have and patients you serve. It's worth noting that larger practices might find themselves in need of a more comprehensive and potentially more expensive EHR solution due to the increased complexity and scalability required to manage a higher volume of patient data and provider interactions.
  2. Features: Another essential factor to consider is the specific features you require from your EHR system. This can range from basic functionalities like e-prescribing to more advanced tools such as a population health management module or a patient portal. Investing in more advanced features can enhance your practice's efficiency and patient care, resulting in better clinical and financial outcomes.
  3. Customization: If your practice has unique workflows or specific requirements, you may need tailored customization options within your EHR system. However, it's important to bear in mind that customization can incur additional time and cost, as it requires specialized development and configuration.
  4. Integration: When assessing EHR options, think about the integration needs of your practice. If your EHR must seamlessly work with other systems, such as billing software or laboratory interfaces, be prepared for potential extra costs associated with integration efforts. Compatibility and interoperability are key considerations here.
  5. Vendor selection: It's advisable to thoroughly research and obtain quotes from different EHR vendors. Comparing various offerings can help you find a solution that aligns with your practice's needs and budget. Remember that vendor pricing structures and included services can vary significantly.
  6. Training and ongoing support: Training your staff on how to effectively use the EHR and ensuring that you have access to ongoing technical support are critical elements in the implementation process. Keep in mind that training and support services may have associated fees, so budgeting for these costs is essential to ensure a smooth transition and optimal use of the system.
  7. Subscription vs. licensing decision: When deciding on an EHR, you'll need to choose between ongoing subscription fees or one-time licensing costs. Consider your financial preferences and the long-term sustainability of your practice when making this decision. Subscription models often offer more predictable monthly expenses, while licensing fees may require a larger upfront investment.
  8. Implementation costs: Implementing an EHR involves tasks such as data migration, system setup, and configuration to match your practice's needs. Be prepared for potential additional costs and downtime requirements associated with these implementation activities, as they are crucial for getting your EHR up and running effectively.
  9. Deployment options: You'll need to decide between cloud-based and on-premises EHR solutions. Cloud-based options typically have lower initial costs, as they don't require on-site server infrastructure.
  10. Maintenance and upgrades: Factor in the costs associated with maintaining your EHR system over time. This includes expenses related to software updates, security enhancements, and ensuring compliance with evolving healthcare regulations. Being proactive about these ongoing requirements is essential to keep your EHR system up to date and secure.

Take your time to research, get quotes, and pick an EHR that fits both your needs and budget. EHR selection is important, as is EHR vendor selection.

How do I select an EHR vendor?

Selecting a good Electronic Health Records (EHR) vendor is crucial for the success of your healthcare organization. Here are some additional considerations to help you identify a reputable EHR vendor:

Experience and reputation:

Look for vendors with a proven track record and extensive experience in the healthcare industry. Established vendors often have a stronger understanding of industry regulations and best practices.

Customer references:

Request references from current customers who have a similar size and scope of operations as your organization. Speak to these references to gain insights into their experiences with the vendor's EHR system and support.

Interoperability and integration:

A good EHR vendor should prioritize interoperability, allowing their system to seamlessly integrate with other healthcare systems and technologies, such as laboratory systems, imaging systems, and health information exchanges (HIEs).

Compliance and certification:

Ensure the vendor's EHR system is compliant with regulatory standards such as HIPAA, ONC (Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology) certification, and other relevant healthcare regulations. Compliance is critical to protecting patient data and ensuring you can participate in incentive programs.

Scalability and flexibility:

Your chosen EHR system should be scalable to accommodate the growth of your healthcare organization. It should also offer flexibility for customization to meet specific workflow and reporting needs.

Security measures:

Inquire about the security measures the vendor has in place to protect patient data. This includes encryption, access controls, audit trails, and disaster recovery plans.

Software updates and maintenance:

Ask about the vendor's approach to software updates and maintenance. Regular updates are necessary to ensure compliance and security. A vendor with a clear update schedule and minimal disruption during updates is preferable.

Data migration expertise:

If you are transitioning from a legacy system or migrating data from paper records, ensure that the vendor has expertise in data migration to avoid data loss or corruption during the transition.

Cost transparency:

A reputable vendor should provide clear pricing structures and be transparent about additional costs, such as maintenance, support, and customizations. Avoid vendors with hidden fees or unclear pricing models.

Vendor stability:

Assess the financial stability of the vendor. You want to choose a vendor that will be around for the long term to provide ongoing support and updates.

Feedback and improvement:

Check if the vendor actively seeks feedback from its customers and uses it to improve the EHR system. A vendor that values customer input is more likely to adapt to evolving healthcare needs.

Mobile accessibility:

With the increasing use of mobile devices in healthcare, ensure that the EHR system offers mobile accessibility, allowing healthcare providers to access patient data securely on smartphones or tablets.

Community and user groups:

Some EHR vendors have user communities or user groups where users can share experiences, best practices, and solutions to common challenges. These can be valuable resources for support and knowledge-sharing.

By thoroughly evaluating these aspects and considering your organization's specific needs and goals, you can choose a reputable EHR vendor that aligns with your healthcare practice's requirements and helps improve patient care while maintaining compliance and efficiency.

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John Ellis, DO

Vice President of Regulatory & Clinical Affairs at NextGen Healthcare

Dr. Ellis is a board-certified Family Medicine physician who serves as the Vice President of the Regulatory & Clinical Affairs team at NextGen Healthcare. His previous experience includes working as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine and serving as the Chairman of the Family Medicine Department at Arrowhead Abrazo Community Hospital. Dr. Ellis founded his own family medicine practice in Arizona and has been using EHR’s since 2003.