What factors should I consider when selecting a vendor?
Key Factors to Consider
The following are several considerations for electronic health record (EHR) vendor comparison that Regional Extension Centers (RECs) have found useful. Consider these factors when selecting an EHR system.
- Understand if and how a vendor's product will accomplish the key goals of the practice. Test-drive 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 pricing, including costs for hardware, software, implementation assistance, training, interfaces, and ongoing network support and maintenance fees.
- 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.
- Consider the following EHR functionalities/capabilities:
- Server options (e.g., client server, application service provider (ASP), software as a service (SaaS))
- Ability to integrate with other products (e.g., practice management software, billing systems, and public health interfaces)
- Privacy and security capabilities
- Ask about linking payments and incentive rewards to implementation milestones and performance goals.
- Consider the vendor's stability and/or market presence in region. Ask if the vendor is able to provide local support and/or has a local presence.
- Conduct a site visit. Pair up practice manager with practice manager, physician with physician and ask about workflow changes.
- Make sure the vendor's product is able to document meaningful use. See what products providers are using to attest to meaningful use.
- Consider whether you will replace your practice management system and how you will handle the conversion or interface.
- Ask about the estimated cost to connect to a Health Information Exchange.
- Consider costs of using legal counsel for contract review verses open sources through medical associations.
Vendor Selection Tools
You can use the Vendor Evaluation Matrix Tool to rate the basic functionalities, the Vendor Meaningful Use Compare Tool to rate the meaningful use capabilities, and the Vendor Pricing Template to compare the costs of different EHRs. For more information, see “How do I select a vendor?”