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Pointers for Choosing Electronic Medical Software for Your Practice

One of the key components of any successful medical practice is an effective software solution for managing electronic medical records (EMR). While it’s good news that are so many versions of this application today, the variety tends to make choosing harder. But it can be easier with some useful pointers in mind.

The following are considerations for you to make as you choose EMR software for your medical practice:

First off, you need to decide if you want to host both the hardware and the software yourself. Application service providers (ASPs) license their software out and maintain it on their own servers, making it available to users through the Internet. This is a suitable option for small practices with low upfront costs and less IT responsibilities. Some ASPs provide locally hosted systems, which means the server will be placed in your office and maintenance will be performed there too. In any case, there are risks involved when you permit another entity to handle your patient data, so you have to resolve concerns on data ownership and business continuity first before finalizing any deal.

Typically, picking a system for a small practice also often begins with product demonstrations. Some vendors are hesitate to go through a formal RFP process with small practices. You need at least five potential systems for your review. If you can, work with other doctors in your area. Consider collaborating with them to ease the choosing process and even provide leverage with the vendors.

Whether or not you plan to go solo, you have to establish a selection system. This is the only way to ensure that you can evaluate the systems consistently, making effective apples-to-apples comparisons, and not being distracted by different vendors’ pitches.

A good way to start is by assigning a selection team that will be in-charge of reviewing your prospective systems. Make sure the group is composed of at least one representative from each department that will be using the system, such as quality improvement, nursing, billing, IT, and the rest. Then write down a list of questions to be asked as every candidate EMR software is put on the table. Using an evaluation matrix or any other similar tool can help you analyze every feature and functionality. This will also help ensure that all areas are covered. Then compare the applications based on ease of use, workflow, and cost.

Finally, all staff should be involved in product demos. Everyone’s needs must be met, so as much as possible, they must be part of the evaluation process. The salesperson shouldn’t be the one to “drive” the product during a demo. Instead, use specific scenarios based on actual patient visits to know how the system really fits your workflow. This is the closest you can get to seeing how the system will likely be useful in your day-to-day operations.

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