In todayâ€™s increasingly complex environment, superior service and support from your EHR vendor are critical to long-term practice viability. Reliable customer service can no longer be viewed as just a box to be checked on the EHR scorecard during the selection processâ€”it is vital to success.
The EHR industry is characterized by fairly poor customer satisfactionâ€”the average KLAS score for service sits at a low 73% (Ambulatory EMRs for 11â€“75 Physicians). Physicians who cannot rely on their EHR company for excellent support will find their productivity and success jeopardized. No longer is the impact of an EHR limited to its use in managing chartsâ€”the increasing demands of government and other payer programs have extended the reach of an EHR beyond the four walls of the practice, and success or failure now has increasingly significant financial implications. Physicians must be able to successfully share information, connect to HIEs, and report on clinical data. In the future, they will need to respond to new reimbursement models such as ACOs. All of these communications are complicated and fraught with potential technical challengesâ€”even with the best EHR solutionsâ€”making access to the highest quality customer support vital.
Meaningful use incentives are foremost on the minds of most physicians right now, and the programâ€™s requirements are complex, confusing, and challenging. Physicians rely on their EHR vendors not only for the technical support necessary to achieve meaningful use, but also for the educational resources required to successfully navigate the program. Unfortunately, this kind of support is not universally available within the industry. The findings of a recent survey presented to the HIT Policy Committee revealed that physicians cite vendorsâ€”in particular, the lack of adequate support and training and unresolved technical problemsâ€”as a major obstacle to achieving meaningful use.
Physicians want to know that their EHR company will be in business for the long term. In a recent post, â€śThe EHR Bubble Will Popâ€”To the Victor Go the Spoils,â€ť I maintained that significant market consolidation is inevitable, and that many, if not most, of the 472 EHR companies currently offering certified EHRs will not survive the shakeout. Customer service is a distinguishing feature among EHR companies that will be important in ensuring a vendorâ€™s future viability.
So, what constitutes excellence in EHR customer service and support, and how do you see through the promises made by vendors during the sales process to ensure that you will receive the level of support that you need? The highest quality customer support requires a sufficiently large team of highly skilled, well-trained, eager-to-please employees, who are easily reachable and accountable for responding within a defined and appropriate amount of time. Where possible, they should be proactive, not just reactive. Such a team requires oversight by senior management, which is really only possible if the support department is not outsourced or sent overseas. You should rely on the real experience of colleaguesâ€”review the KLAS ratings and then validate them by doing your own due diligence.