Why Switching Your EHR Might be the Best Decision You Make This Year

Nicole Benz200By Nicole Benz, Certified eClinicalWorks EHR Implementation Specialist
GroupOne Health Source Inc.
Twitter: @GroupOne_Health

The future of physician practices is electronic health records (EHRs). We can’t go back to paper and no one is rationally suggesting we do. But there is agreement that EHRs have not met the expectations set out for them: billions of dollars in savings, hours in administrative time saved, as well as enjoying tighter security and better accuracy.

Choosing the Wrong EHR Is Worse Than No EHR at All
Instead, many physicians complain of the hours of work they now need to do to stay on top of their new system. Instead of saving time and money, they are spending more time and money to keep up with their new system. Truthfully, no EHR is perfect, but there are some things to look for in yours that could mean you have made a mistake and switching to another EHR system is the right move.

Excessive Time/Training to Implement
You are going to need time to learn a new system, but if you have chosen a system without great onsite training, and one that takes you and your staff hours to understand, you may have the wrong system.

Look for an EHR that you find at least a little intuitive, and that comes with onsite support as well as excellent training.

If it looks like your staff is not capable of learning the new system, consider switching systems before you switch your staff. Think about it. Do you really think you need to hire based on ability to jump through the hoops required of a clunky EHR? Before you become frustrated with your staff, consider becoming frustrated with your EHR.

Also, and in the same vein, if this system is going to take extra time or effort to implement so that it works for the upcoming Merit Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), think about a switch. MIPS is going to impact a majority of healthcare providers with either an incentive or a penalty. Your EHR shouldn’t stand in the way of you doing well in each of the four performance categories of MIPS.

Disruption to Your Practice
You will notice some disruption to your paper-based practice, but you should see things go back to a new harmony once you have learned the new system. If there is a constant and never-ending disruption, consider changing your EHR.

Unexpected Costs
You may need to pay a bit for customizing your new EHR system. And there may well be costs associated with training or even the extra hours you and your staff will spend at first learning the new system and trying to harmonize the new way of doing things into your regular routine. That is to be expected.

However, be wary of an EHR which seems to add costs to your practice unrelentingly. Hidden costs, surprise maintenance costs for upgrades, costs to customize that seem excessive — these are a few of the costs that you should pay attention to and worry about.

Outdated System
Finally, think about the quality you expect and need in an EHR. You get what you pay for to a certain extent, and though it’s possible to find great deals sometimes, it’s also true that there is a huge range of quality in EHR systems.

An “outdated system” doesn’t have to be old. You need to look for a system that has a good user experience — one that makes sense to you. If it doesn’t, ask questions. If the answers seem condescending or don’t make intuitive sense to you, shop around.

In today’s market, you should be able to find an EHR that works for you. One that offers options for your specialty and can be expandable when your practice grows. Make sure that it works now and into the future. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and do expect training that is customized for you and your staff.

This article was originally published on GroupOne Healthsource and is republished here with permission.