Thursday, May 01, 2008

Choosing an EMR

An article in Medscape the other day articulated the trouble with choosing an EMR better than just about anything I've seen recently:

...selecting an electronic medical record (EMR) is like selecting a wife: Unless you make a really lousy choice, you will be happier than before. However, it is a huge deal to divorce your EMR and wed another, so you had better make the right choice the first time. However, a quick look at the over 400 different EMR software vendors can easily overwhelm anyone interested in selecting a system.

Every EMR software program has its strengths and weaknesses. The perfect EMR does not exist and never will. Even those organizations that have built their own EMR still have long lists of new enhancements and features that they wish had been included in their EMR. In selecting an EMR, it is important to match an EMR's strengths with a clinic's needs. Even more important is to acknowledge an EMR's weaknesses. Then, ask yourself whether your clinic can handle those weaknesses and how your clinic will deal with them.

Most practice administrators have not the time or patience to thoroughly research multiple EMR offerings. In fact, the task is so daunting, that many just go with the first person that shows up at their doorstep.

So, how should you go about choosing an EMR system?

I think Mr. Lynch proposes a pretty good solution:

After creating a manageable list of potential EMR companies, you will need to find a way to compare the feature sets offered in each tool. A simple method of comparison is to create an Excel file with a list of features down the left side and a list of EMR companies across the top. An Internet search will also find Excel files such as this already built, which can be used as a good starting point. Once you have the file, fill in the details of each software company as you participate in an online or live demo of the EMR software product.
Remember that the EMR solution you choose will be the guiding force in the future success of your practice. For this reason, if no other, take your time, focus on a few choice offerings and let your staff be involved in the selection process.

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