Assessing Your Practice’s EHR Needs

Assessing Your Practice’s EHR Needs
Assessing Your Practice’s EHR Needs

Deciding on an EHR system is not is not as simple as going out and buying some hardware and software. The EHR system will become a core component in the running of your healthcare practice. As such, any problems that are introduced with the implementation of an EHR that isn’t the right match for your practice’s needs are likely to have a negative effect on the practice.

It is important to choose an EHR system that provides the best fit with the way things are done in your practice. In order to do that, however, it is first necessary to understand how the practice is currently operating.

One of the most critical things to do prior to sourcing an EHR system is to prepare a readiness assessment and to identify existing workflows.1

What Features Are Essential?

A thorough analysis of existing workflows will help to identify what features are absolutely essential to the practice. Any EHR system that fails to provide essential features can be dismissed as an option.

If you are planning to keep the billing function in-house, you will need to choose a system that provides this feature, for example. In contrast, if you plan to outsource billing, then the system you choose will not need comprehensive billing features.

It is also necessary to plan for the future. Do not make the mistake of implementing a system that can barely accommodate your existing needs. You need a system that can easily grow if your practice expands.2 Expansion could include having increased numbers of medical personnel, an increasing patient base, or a combination of both. Check that any EHR system you evaluate will be able to expand with your practice.

Budget Considerations

Before setting out to evaluate potential EHR systems, your practice must determine how much it can afford to spend on the new system. While it is vital to select a system that will deliver essential features, it is also important to concentrate only on systems that the practice can afford.

The initial investment in EHR can be significant. It may be necessary to replace existing hardware. It may also be essential to upgrade telecommunications infrastructure. That may mean replacing asymmetric digital subscriber line with fiber optic broadband, for example.

Remember to factor in the cost of training when calculating your costs. If you have any staff members who are not familiar with keyboards and computers, you will need to get them trained in the basics before they move on to training on a specific EHR system.

Another factor that can affect costs is the number of people who will be using the EHR system. Many EHR vendors charge fees per user. For every extra user you add, your monthly fees increase. This charging structure can make it tricky to get a reasonable budget estimate.

Revenue-Based Fee System

One option available to make budgeting a much more straightforward exercise is Checkpoint EHR.2 Fees are simply charged as a percentage of revenue generated. Practices using the system do not have to worry about adding users or keeping the number of transactions beneath a certain level.

Once a system is installed, it is important to have regular follow-up meetings with users to determine how any system is delivering on the goals set. Since a bad system is likely to be bad for business, it’s best to cut losses and get rid of a poorly performing system.