1. To Cloud or Not to Cloud: Is it cloud or server based? While I’ve been a fan of having my data on my own servers, I’ve done an about face. Let’s face it, we are a mobile society. Your practice may be mobile or you may need to access records offsite. In most cases, the security and backups of an EMR in the cloud will surpass what you can/will do in your office. My choice? In the cloud.
2. Workflow Ease: How easy is it to adapt to your workflow? Every EMR will tell you it’s adaptable. But is it, or will it take significant tweaking to get it to do what you want? Checklist? Templates? Dictation? Free-hand typing?
3. Meaningful use Certified: Even if you don’t think you’ll be using meaningful use, you’ll want to consider an EMR that will allow you to participate. In addition, these systems have invested a lot of time, energy and money in being up-to-date and being compliant with every regulatory agency. Don’t go with something that will not be kept up to date.
4. Cost: You’ll want to consider up front cost as well as back end. Is there a one time fee or monthly subscription? Is it for the office or per provider? Will you need new equipment? Are their fees for support and software updates? What about training cost?
5. Integration: Does it talk to your billing/practice management software? Or will you have to maintain two system? If it has it’s own integrated system, is there an additional cost to you? Will you be able to migrate your existing data? How will you export your data from the PM system if necessary (Hint: it’s not the same as exporting or printing your charts).
There are dozens more questions that can be asked (ie, tablets? PC or Mac? Messaging? Importing and exporting documents?) Start by doing your research, find a clinician that is using the system to give you independent feedback and if possible try to see the program being used in a live setting. At the very least, once your questions have been satisfactorily answered, make sure you can demo the software on dummy patients. Get your staff involved. Look carefully before you leap.
What EMR are you using and why? What do you like or not? Share your own EMR findings with your colleagues below.