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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). Although there are benefits to having a huge variety of these applications today, the variety makes it harder to choose. But it does get easier with a few helpful insights in mind.

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

First of all, decide if the software and the hardware will both be hosted by you. In exchange for a license, application service providers (ASPs) sell their software, which will be maintained on their own servers and accessed by users over the Internet. This is a suitable option for small practices with low upfront costs and less IT responsibilities. With some ASPs, hosting may be local, meaning the server will be located in your office and maintenance tasks will be performed there as well. In any case, allowing another entity to manage your patient data comes with risks, so you need to clear out issues on data ownership and business continuity before you commit to any ASP.

Usually, choosing a system for a small practice usually starts with product demonstrations. Vendors may not be willing to submit to a formal RFP process when dealing with a small practice. You should have no less than five prospective systems for review. Work with other local doctors if possible. Consider an

informal collaboration as it can make the selection process easier, not to mention provide leverage with vendors.

Whether or not you plan to go solo, you have to establish a selection system. This way, you can ensure consistency as you evaluate your options, make appropriate comparisons, and avoid distraction from pitching vendors.

A good way to begin is by gathering a team that will take charge of assessing 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 guarantee that you will not miss any areas. Then compare the programs based on three general criteria – workflow, ease of use, and cost.

Lastly, the entire staff must be involved during product demos. Since everyone’s needs should be satisfied, you’d like to make them part of the evaluation process as much as possible. During a demo, it’s not the salesperson who should be “driving” the product. Instead, use real patient visit scenarios so you can gauge the compatibility of the system to your workflow. This is the best understanding you can get of the system’s usefulness in your daily operations.

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Jason Brown

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