Searching for the right electronic health record (EHR) is a multi-faceted project requiring many considerations. In my three-part blog series, I’ve taken you through the request for information (RFI) phase, as you gathered the necessary information about the EHR vendors. Then I showed you the top things to put in your request for proposal (RFP) once you narrowed down vendor pool. Now we hear from the experts on the EHR selection process. I polled our Healthcare Informatics 2010 Editorial Board, and here are their top considerations they took into account when choosing an EHR:
Price- It’s no surprise cost was a major factor that came up, with cost being many CIOs’ bottom line in this still struggling economy. But one board member said it wasn’t the first thing they thought about in the selection process: “Cost is always a factor, but it's not a real consideration until late in the decision process.”
Functionality -Functionality also topped the list of main considerations when EHR hunting. One board member noted it was very important that the EHR solution had clinician input when being developed. Another board member emphasized the difference between functionality and usability: “Usability [is] a metric that is now being measured and incorporated into various certification tools. Functionality means the door can be opened with a key. Usability is the difference between one key and one half-turn vs. needing 10 keys and each needs six turns.”
R&D- If a company is not continually innovating their products, they might be hard pressed to scale with the increasing demands of meaningful use requirements and healthcare reform. Vendors with a large percentage of their revenue reinvested in research and development will likely have good growth potential to be able to offer updated products to guide organizations through their meaningful use journey.
Customer Support-EHR solutions are of course not out-of-the box solutions, but need a lot of clinician training to implement and succeed. Customer support, via phone and onsite trating, was another key factor named by our board as necessary when choosing an EHR. One board member also mentioned service education follow-ups as being important to sustain staff education.
Reputation- Reputation and the viability of the vendor was another main consideration our board listed as key in the selection process. One board member also said “vendor stability” was important.
Customization- Every healthcare organization and practice has different clinical needs that need to be expressed within their EHR, so customization is another biggie. Creating order sets, scheduling alerts, and customizing other pieces of the clinician workflow, will ultimately make for easier user adoption. Finding out if the vendor will be a partner in this process is key.