The use of an electronic health record (EHR) is critical to participating in incentive programs from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). But some practices are discovering that their current EHR is not ready to meet the standards of programs like the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), which include being certified by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). ONC defines a certified EHR as one that meets the functionality and security requirements set by the Department of Health& Human Services (HHS) to qualify for incentive payments.
Switching EHRs can be a big investment in both time and resources, so a practice needs to be prepared. First, evaluate your current situation and your long-term objectives. Then, if your practice is considering replacement of your current EHR, It’s important to do your homework to ease the pain of transitioning to anew system.
There are several capabilities that you should evaluate:
- Vendor stability. Look for outside verification of a company’s strength. Check for a listing on the Fortune 500, recent investments in the company and the EHR, or even the organization’s financial reports if the vendor is a publicly traded company. You want evidence of reliability and longevity.Will they still be around in 10 years? Talk to the EHR’s current clients to confirm the vendor provides consistent product updates and communications.
- Ease of use. Determine if the EHR is intuitive to use. View product demos and videos. Visit client offices and ask for references. While there, observe how the product fits into their workflow and ask questions. Think about how the EHR will fit into your workflow. Check for accessibility on multiple devices.
- Financial impact. Determine the cost to abandon your current solution. This can include any office downtime during implementation,as well as additional hardware or software costs. Depending on your contract,you may have an early termination fee; and there may be costs to have patient data exported or to allow you to continue to access the old charts.
- Features and functionality. Ask vendors to demonstrate the features and functionality included in the product. Look for an EHR that can integrate with other internal systems, like patient scheduling, medical billing, or ePrescribing. Then be sure that it has interoperability with outside systems, like your lab vendor, imaging companies, and public registries. Ask about software updates and when they happen.
During the EHR adoption process, it’s easy to focus on the more immediate gains and lose sight of the long-term impact this technology will have on your practice. To learn more about what to look for in switching EHRs, download our white paper, “3 things to know about making the EHR switch,” or contact us about the Quanum EHR from Quest Diagnostics at 1.888.491.7900.