As Thanksgiving nears, many of us are thinking about the people for whom we are truly grateful. This is also a great time to appreciate some of the life-changing innovations that we now take for granted – from music to medicine. We hope you enjoy this little trip down Memory Lane, and we hope you know how grateful we are to all of our clients, team members, and vendors who make up the SRS family!
What are you grateful for?
Today, we are used to searching for references for everything from restaurants and hotels, to clothing labels and wearable fitness technology. Whether you are planning a party or searching for a new physician, gathering a handful of reviews can help inform your selection.
Collecting EHR references is one of the most critical steps in the EHR search process. To ensure your reference gathering is as effective as possible, make sure several members of your staff are onboard. If each employee makes a few calls, the interview process will not require a large time commitment from any one of them.
Second, both administrative staff and physicians should call and speak to several of their peers at the reference sites to collect a variety of different perspectives and opinions.
Finally, don’t just call the references provided by the vendors—find other practices using the EHRs you are considering by joining professional society listservs such as MGMA’s and AAOE’s.
Once you’ve collected 10 references of similar size within your specialty from each EHR vendor—along with a few practices that weren’t provided by the vendors—ask each reference these 10 crucial questions:
- When did you install your current EHR?
- How long was the installation/implementation process?
- How would you describe the installation/implementation process?
- Was the system as easy to use as it appeared to be during the software demonstration?
- How has your patient volume changed?
- Approximately how much more time do you devote to entering exam data into your EHR as compared to how you documented exams before you began using this EHR?
- What percentage of your exam notes are fully-templated?
- Do you like the quality of the exam note generated by your current EHR? Does it represent you well?
- How have your patient interactions changed?
- Would you recommend your EHR to a similar practice?
Asking these questions will give you a clear indication of whether or not a specific vendor will be able to deliver the success you expect from your EHR implementation.
Keep this “cheat sheet” of reference questions handy throughout your EHR search process. It will prove invaluable and provide you with the information you need to save yourself from a potential mistake.
What are some additional questions you would ask of references?
Without These 5 Essentials Your EHR Experience Could Be Scary :O
Walk down almost any street on Halloween and you’ll be greeted by scores of people dressed in costumes. The outward appearance of these revelers is very different from what you find once the mask comes off. The same can happen when you see an EHR demonstration. There are so many things to focus on during the demo that you might be distracted from the most important points. Is it usable? Can it accommodate different workflow styles and data capture needs? And, can it be implemented without sacrificing practice-wide productivity? Although extras bells and whistles can make impressive costumes, they won’t guarantee EHR success.
How do you know if an EHR is a Trick or a Treat?
1. Things that go click, click, click in the night. The number of clicks it takes to perform basic functions—such as submitting electronic prescriptions, reviewing basic chart information, or documenting patient exams—is crucial when selecting an EHR system. If the system requires numerous clicks in order to navigate the software and enter clinical information during the patient encounter, and toggle back and forth between applications then the EHR will significantly decrease physician and practice productivity, negatively impacting both revenue generation and patient care.
2. The legend of one size fits all. The EHR should be flexible enough to serve your specialty, and your unique style of practicing medicine. Your EHR shouldn’t dictate your workflow, rather it should be flexible enough to accommodate many styles, and data capture goals. Knowing how, when, where, and by whom data is entered into the EHR is critical. If the EHR does not provide the flexibility to adapt to and help you improve your current process, then it may not be the right EHR for you.
3. Losing your way in a house of horrors. We’ve all heard EHR template horror stories about going through a long data input maze only to learn that you missed something and can’t escape without losing all of your work. Rather than suffering the same fate, ask references how flexible and easy the system is to use, and how many hours it took them to become confident with the system. If the other users quote an excessive number of training hours or your staff has trouble learning the software during a demonstration, the system is most likely not usable and therefore will be difficult to implement, and never be fully integrated into your practice.
4. Alternate realities. Other applications and office technologies should easily integrate into the EHR and be viewable within the same screen. There should be little to no toggling back and forth between application realities—it is inefficient, wastes time, and resources.
5. Recurring nightmares. Navigating, entering data, and generating reports in the EHR should be quick and easy. Diagnostic test results and transcriptions should automatically route into each patient’s digital record. Every paper process (or automated process if you currently have an EHR) that exists in your practice should be replaced by a superior automated process that frees up the physicians’ and staff’s time and allows them to focus their attention on patients.
Avoid these monsters—ensure all physicians and practice staff are included in the selection process—workflow, data requirement, and training time vary among the different departments and staff members. Remember, the EHR you purchase should enhance efficiency, workflow, and productivity throughout the practice. If it doesn’t, then it will not deliver all the benefits that “the right” EHR could bring to your practice. You might even consider your EHR a treat 😀
After 17 years as the founder and CEO of SRS, I am transitioning to the role of Senior Advisor. I am extremely proud of the position that SRS has come to occupy in the healthcare technology industry, and as I hand the company reins over to Scott Ciccarelli, a seasoned executive with extensive healthcare experience, I am confident that SRS will continue to make its mark.
Writing the EMR Straight Talk blog has been one of my passions since its launch on February 17, 2009, as President Obama signed the Economic Stimulus Package making “meaningful use” a household term. The purpose of the blog has always been to educate readers and to stimulate critical thinking about the issues that impact physicians, so the number and intensity of comments from readers has been particularly rewarding.
For more information about the transition at SRS, read today’s press release. I hope you will continue to read EMR Straight Talk as the blog undergoes its own transition.
Thank you for reading.
Best wishes for your continued success,