Modern physicians operate in a fast-paced, constantly-changing world.
Between dealing with regulation changes, insurance billing complexities and simple business requirements, the precious time and attention of doctors seems to be stretched thinner than perhaps ever before.
To help them manage such a demanding environment, most physicians everywhere are now turning to advanced technologies such as Electronic Health Record (EHR) software to maximize their practice’s efficiency.
Doing research on which is the ‘best’ option can be mind-numbing.
Currently today there are over 700 EHR options in the marketplace, and that number is growing steadily. Aside from the technical capabilities, and the simple functions that are required, here are 5 important factors to consider before investing in an EHR for your clinic.
1) Features and Functions
This may seem an overly obvious factor, yet it can be overlooked. Before you begin to search for an EHR, consider exactly what you want it to do for you. What will it make easier in your clinic? Will it remove some manual tasks from your teams daily routines?
EHRs can streamline the daily activities of a clinic, simplifying functions such as scheduling, billing and reporting, while still meeting the demands of the government, insurance companies and patients alike. (You may like to refer to this comprehensive list of functions as a starting point).
Therefore, writing a list of what you want and need is a great place to start. Choose 5-10 key features or functionalities that are essential for you. Then choose another 5-10 that are nice to have. Taking time to consider your individual needs will help you narrow the field dramatically, and reduce the chance you are being sold on the sizzle, rather than the steak.
3)Design, Flow and Usability
Design is about much more than color schemes and logos. It is about the overall feel, and ease of use of the software. Believe it or not, good design can make an EHR a pleasure to use, or a nightmare.
As Dr Joseph Cramer explains “Color, space, placement, size, shape, and form all guide how one looks at the medical record. Information is not all the same. Monotony is not only boring; it is dangerous for care if everything is hidden in the same dull camouflage.”
Consider the way it feels to use the EHR software. Does each screen flow logically? Is it easy on the eye? Can you adjust or change the layout or text sizes? Do the repeated functions you are using daily feel cumbersome or overly complicated?
Think about how much gmail changed the way we use email. Small simple innovations within an EHR can make a huge difference. Having to click through several screens to be able to save records, or source data can become an incredible burden when you do it hundreds of times a day.
According to Jess White from Health Care Business Tech, “Providers who aren’t comfortable with entering information in an EHR are more likely to make mistakes that can affect patient care. And an EHR that’s too difficult to work with can decrease efficiency.”
Keep this sense of flow and usability top of mind when testing an EHR.
The future of all EHRs is going to be determined by who can connect them together. Today the challenge of interoperability is still a huge issue, and whilever the EHR vendors limit access to third-party apps, this will continue.
Even in 2016, this factor may still be a nice to have, but according to D’Arcy Guerin Gue writing for HealthIT Consultant, “The industry’s road to interoperability is paved with bumps and ruts. With certified EHRs now in place throughout the country, it’s a front and center concern. This is because interoperability is only practical if EHR usage has reached enough critical mass to make the possibilities realistic, including providing the basis for common standards for data sharing.”
Seeking out an EHR that has a plan for interoperability, and connection to useful apps is another factor to consider to future-proof your clinic.