Three Questions You Should Be Asking Your EHR Provider
Electronic Health Records technology has come a long way. From the days when it came on a CD-ROM to be installed on your practice computer to today’s leading edge cloud solutions that are accessible instantly at the click of a button. Unfortunately, many doctors are still using legacy systems that they have been using for years. Shifting to a new provider can bring a bad case of EHR remorse. In reality, they should be directing some pertinent questions towards their vendors to find out what plans they have for the technology and whether they indeed have a bright future ahead.
Here are three questions that you should be asking your current EHR provider:
When will you start offering cloud-based services?
For local server-based service customers, this should be the first question you ask. One of the big challenges that local services face, and this challenge is faced by all types of local software services, is staying current. Local services are very difficult to keep up to date as the vendor has to update each installation one at a time. Even when this is done over the Internet, it’s still a tedious process prone to failures and update errors. Also, if something goes wrong with the update, it cannot be fixed fast enough for everyone to prevent service interruptions. Cloud services on the other hand, do not suffer this challenge. Because everyone is using the same system, they get all the updates at once. Also, in the event that something goes wrong, the vendor simply has to fix things on their end and everyone enjoys the fix instantaneously. These and other issues are the reasons why most software services today, in the health sector and across other industries, are offered as cloud services.
What are your plans for an integrated practice management services platform?
Many EHR software vendors build solutions for a narrow band of needs per practice. This means they have multiple services for billing, EHR, practice management, patient portal, etc. The challenge is that you need all these functions to talk to each other, something the US government is pushing for with its call for interoperability. Despite the push by government, it’s only practical to manage your entire practice’s workflow through one integrated system. With disparate systems, you have to pick data from each, combine this data and then try and make sense of it all. Integrated medical practice management platforms are the future of smart medicine. With big data analytics coming of age, it will be possible to understand your practice better through smart health IT systems than through dumb ones that exist as separate silos of information.
How will your system help me meet Meaningful Use and ICD-10 requirements?
Currently the two eight hundred pound gorillas in the healthcare ring, MU and ICD-10, are two things your EHR MUST be able to tackle. These are also new developments in the health industry, and software vendors are working hard to update and upgrade their systems to cater to this. Some vendors are more committed and better equipped than others. Is yours the former or the latter? Considering these two programs are being pushed for adoption by eligible medical professionals and hospitals, can you afford to be using a system that will not enable you to achieve compliance? Knowing if your EHR vendor has concrete plans to build support for the latest health care developments will shed light on whether you have a future with them or not.
If your vendor can answer these questions satisfactorily then you are in the green and have no need to budge. On the other hand, any unconvincing answers should warrant you to start thinking about replacing your EHR provider.