Selecting the EMR software that best fits your practice is a big task. These systems are generally sprawling and complex, making it hard to get a full picture of the software during the first use. Following these steps can help you stay organized in your search and choose the ideal EMR software to suit your workflow and support your team.
1. Research market leaders and popular systems.
The first step in any buying journey is learning about the market. Take some time to research EMR software, the recent history of the industry and some of the leading brands on the market today. Seek out user reviews on multiple platforms to get an idea of how previous customers responded to the EMR software after implementation.
2. Identify your priorities.
While researching the market, consider your priorities in an EMR. Ease of use is often a big consideration for medical practices, because some EMRs are complex and difficult to learn. However, a system with a steep learning curve might offer advanced features and tools that can improve your medical practice's performance. So, while it might be a rocky introduction to the software, software that takes a little extra time to learn might pay off in the long run.
Another key consideration is the customizability of the system, such as which templates it offers for clinical notes and how much you can tailor them to suit your own preferences; patient engagement, which includes a user-friendly patient portal that allows your patients to take an active role in their healthcare; and interoperability with labs, pharmacies and hospitals for seamless data interchange. Consider which aspects of an EMR would match up with your team's existing workflow, rather than how you would adapt your workflow to a new system.
3. Make a list of at least 10 candidates.
Once you've researched leading brands and made a list of your priorities, identify at least 10 candidates you would like to further investigate. A field of 10 offers significant competition without making the process too cumbersome. Once you have your list, it's time to contact the vendors directly.
4. Request live demonstrations.
Most EMR software vendors do not post pricing on their websites, but almost all of them offer live demonstrations, which are often followed by a quote or estimate. Live demos give you an opportunity to walk through the software with a company representative who will show you the major highlights of the system. They will often tailor the demonstration to your needs, showing you primarily the tools you're most interested to see. Most live demonstrations take place through video conference software.
During the live demonstrations, take extensive notes on each of your priorities and anything that stands out as a positive or negative. If you can, record the live demonstration or ask the company representative to do so. Saving recordings for later review or sharing with other team members can help you make a final decision.
5. Narrow down your list to three finalists.
After you've viewed live demonstrations for your list of candidates, you should have an idea of which ones you like and which you don't. Narrow your list down to three if possible. The best method of choosing finalists is consulting with members of your team who have seen your notes or the live demonstrations to find out what they liked and disliked about each EMR. After all, your whole team has to use the EMR and practice management system with which it is associated.
6. Schedule a more detailed demo with each.
Oftentimes, if you're interested in an EMR, company representatives will give you a second, more in-depth demonstration. Some of these demos even include sample software you can take control of and click around for yourself. Take detailed notes yet again and record the demonstration once more if possible. When you're finished with these final demonstrations, request a contract or agreement from each company to compare side by side.
7. Request a detailed breakdown of pricing and fees.
In the contract or agreement you request, there should be a detailed breakdown of all pricing and fees. You need to see an explicit list of everything you are paying for alongside a contractual obligation for the vendor to provide certain services. Don't simply trust a promise made by a sales representative; if they promised it, it needs to be added in writing. Once you've compared contracts, you should be ready to make your determination.
When you've selected an EMR vendor to partner with, you should closely review the contract before you sign it. If possible, have an attorney review the contract and mark it up accordingly. Be sure to request a detailed breakdown of pricing and any additional fees that might be included. Many EMR vendors charge extra for setup, implementation and training, for example. You should also make sure that any promises a vendor made you during your research phase are guaranteed in writing.