Step 3: Select or Upgrade to a Certified EHR
Selecting an EHR system is a critical decision and a significant planning task. There are different opinions regarding when the selection of an EHR system should be made in the planning phase. Some practices go through the planning process and develop the selection criteria they wish to use. Other practices begin by selecting an EHR system and then conduct planning to support the selected EHR system. Most practices develop an initial plan to identify their key goals, select an EHR system that supports these goals, and then finalize their plan after the selection.
After establishing the practice’s objective(s) and planning how EHRs will affect workflows, the leadership team and staff can determine what to look for when considering and selecting an EHR system. The following are several considerations for EHR software comparison that the Regional Extension Centers (RECs) have found useful over the past several months:
- Understand if and how a vendor's product will accomplish the key goals of the practice. Essentially, a test drive of your specific needs with the vendor’s product. Provide the vendor with patient and office scenarios that they may use to customize their product demonstration
- Clarify start-up pricing before selecting an EHR system (hardware, software, maintenance and upgrade costs, option of phased payments, interfaces for labs and pharmacies, cost to connect to health information exchange (HIE), customized quality reports)
- Define implementation support (amount, schedule, information on trainer(s) such as their communication efficiency and experience with product and company)
- Clarify roles, responsibilities, and costs for data migration strategy if desired. Sometimes, being selective with which data or how much data to migrate can influence the ease of transition
- Server options (e.g., client server, application service provider (ASP), software as a service (SAS))
- Ability to integrate with other products (e.g., practice management software, billing systems, and public health interfaces)
- Privacy and security capabilities and back-up planning
- Linking payments and EHR incentive rewards to implementation milestones and performance goals
- Vendor's stability and/or market presence in region
- Cost to connect to HIE
- Consider costs of using legal counsel for contract review verses open sources through medical associations
National Learning Consortium Resources
The following resources are examples of tools that are used in the field today, and that are recommended by “boots-on-the-ground” professionals for use by others who have made the commitment to implement or upgrade to certified EHR systems.
The material in these guides and tools was developed from the experiences of Regional Extension Center staff in the performance of technical support and EHR implementation assistance to primary care providers. The information contained in this guide is not intended to serve as legal advice nor should it substitute for legal counsel. The guide is not exhaustive, and readers are encouraged to seek additional detailed technical guidance to supplement the information contained herein.
Reference in this web site to any specific resources, tools, products, process, service, manufacturer, or company does not constitute its endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. Government or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
|EHR Contracts: Key Contract Terms for Users to Understand||View|
|EHR Demonstration Scenario, Evaluation and Vendor Questions||View|
|NLC Contracting Guidelines and Checklist for EHR Vendor Selection||View|
|NLC Reference Checking for EHR Vendors||View|
|Request for Proposal (RFP) Template for Health Information Technology||View|
|Vendor Evaluation Matrix Tool||View|
|Vendor Meaningful Use Compare Tool||View|
|Vendor Pricing Template||View|