7 Questions to Ask Before Buying an EMR Software System
If you’re looking at statistics regarding electronic medical records (also called electronic health records), you might be getting confused. It’s true that EMR software is quickly becoming standard. In 2011, only slightly more than half — 55% — of physicians had adopted EMR or EHR systems. But adoption of basic systems spiked 21% between 2012 and 2013 alone, and, by 2013, 69% of physicians reported participating or intending to participate in Medicare and Medicaid Incentive Programs (participating, obviously, requires having an electronic record system).
But it’s a little more complex than that. According to a report from 2014, only barely more than half — 50.7% — of providers were using fully functional EMR software, and a full 40% weren’t satisfied with their current medical software systems. How can you choose a functional system and avoid sinking money into software that doesn’t actually boost efficiency and improve patient care, as EMRs are supposed to do?
Here are the seven most important questions to ask before buying EMR software or signing a contract with a software provider:
Is the Software Suitable for My Specialty?
Some software systems are much more adaptable than others for certain specialties. While a cardiology EMR, for example, may not be marked explicitly as such, you should ask what percentage of a medical software company’s business focuses on your specialty.
Are Practice Management Features Integrated?
If you’re going to invest in new software, you might as well choose a system that’s multi-functional. EMR practice management software can help you handle everything from scheduling to billing, rather than simply replacing paper patient records.
How Is Data Populated in the New System?
You probably have some existing data that you’ll need transferred into the new software, so be sure to ask about how that transition would be best handled.
How User-Friendly Is the Interface/Workflow?
It’s very important that you choose a system with a user-friendly interface and/or configurable workflows. Ask if you can demo a system before purchasing it. Keep in mind that you’ll need some training and there will be a learning curve regardless; the goal is to minimize that learning curve.
Will the Software Help You Meet Privacy Guidelines?
Especially as more and more patients are wanting access to their EMRs through online portals, compliance with privacy laws (and security to ensure unauthorized parties can’t access data) is more important than ever.
What Kind of Support Comes With the Software?
EMR systems aren’t the type of software that you simply purchase and then implement completely on your own. You’ll want to purchase from a software provider with a good track record of ongoing support.
Does the Software Meet Federal Criteria?
If you’re looking to take advantage of financial incentives offered by the federal government, you’ll need to buy a certified system that meets so-called Meaningful Use standards.