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Outside help

Once the decision has been made to purchase an EMR/EHR, our ex- perts suggest that potential buyers look to outside resources to help them choose the proper system for their practice, size and work fl ow. “To a very large extent, physician buying decisions are infl uenced by other physicians,” says Otter-Nick- erson. “Physicians who have gone

EMR/EHR they are considering are in solo practices or small groups similar to theirs. “What may work for a hos- pital physician may be poorly suited for the work fl ow in a small or solo practice,” he says.

Rick Jung

through experiences – good and bad – of implementing EMR/EHR are the best resources. Speaking and visiting with these practices is a great way to benefi t from their experience.”

And outside help for selecting the proper EMR/EHR can come from a veritable plethora of sources. “Beyond gathering information on available systems through Internet searches, tradeshows, advertising and various vendor promotions,” Emery says, “networking with peers, and asking a practice of similar size and make- up what system they are using and their likes and dislikes, is probably the most powerful decision-making tool.” Dave Miller, chief security offi cer, Covisint, states that the two most helpful resources for prospective buyers are industry analyst fi rms and “referrals from others who’ve faced the same situation and resolved it, showing quantifi - able and/or qualitative gains.”

Dave Miller

Nayak concurs, noting that refer- ences from peers who have success- fully deployed similar EMR/EHR solutions are extremely valuable, as are knowledge of vendors’ experi- ence and status in the marketplace. Vendor track records and the opin- ions of other users are extremely helpful in selecting an EMR/EHR, agrees Robert Mayer, CIO, State of New Mexico.

Howard recommends researching products through social media Web sites. “Research through Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube can be invaluable when selecting an EMR/EHR,” he offers. “While some vendors can provide a comprehensive overview of their product, sometimes there is missing information directly from the source. We recommend asking around. With word-of-mouth, physicians can hear from other physi- cians, in practices similar to theirs, on whether an EMR/EHR has worked for them.”

Second, Howard suggests that prospective buyers find out what percentage of physicians using the

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Robert Mayer

This doesn’t necessarily mean buying the same EMR/ EHR as a peer, says Otter-Nickerson. “It also has to do with learning about the process and best practices of selecting and implementing an EMR/EHR in a way that minimizes problems and set-backs and maximizes the advantages this technology has to offer.”

Howard says it’s a good idea to ask the EMR/EHR vendor for instances in which users made a recommen- dation for improvement in the EMR/EHR and how that request was implemented into the system. “This will not only give the practice a good idea of the extent to which the vendor cares about their customers,” he says, “but also whether their technology architecture will accommodate rapid improvement cycles.”

Our experts agree it is always important to gather the most information possible from vendors about their products before a purchase is made.

“CIOs who demand evidence rather than brochures from their vendors – proof points related to adoption and automation, clinical transformation and total cost of own- ership – will be better equipped to choose an EHR that is safe for their hospital and their career,” Jung says. H.T. Snowday, chief technology offi cer, Versus Tech-

nology, says the best bet when considering purchasing any healthcare IT product or service is to look to peers. “If it’s a product, I like to talk to others, maybe look at online reviews,” he says. “If it’s a service, I like to see it in action, live (not a demo), or speak with a customer. Quality is always important. So is good customer service. It’s also wise to make sure it will work for both current and long-term plans as well, this will save heartache down the road – not to mention the fi nancial aspect.”

Maintaining productivity

Understandably, providers want to be sure that their physicians will actually adopt and use whatever new sys- tems are selected, and that they have enough time, money and resources to address work-fl ow changes, says Sharron Finlay, regional director, Beacon Partners. “The biggest challenge is justifying the return on invest- ment, particularly quality improvements that should save money for healthcare as a whole (i.e., duplicate tests), but lose revenue because of the reduction in the number of ancillary tests,” Finlay says. Otter-Nickerson states that a signifi cant number of providers are concerned that EMRs/EHRs will slow them down, make it more diffi cult to practice, or require changes they are unwilling to make.

“The fear of loss in productivity is enough to cause hesitation even in the most tech-savvy practices,” says

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