EHR Features – Are you Getting the Most out of Them?
Marketing materials often contain a laundry list of tools and features that the EHR comes with but it doesn’t mean they’re all relevant to your practice. The features a large hospital can’t live without may be absolutely useless for a small dental clinic with 10 employees.
One thing to remember with any software, technology or equipment is that the actual features matter less than how you use them. An application might have 101 features but what if you could only use a few of them for your organization? Sometimes a practice doesn’t use some features to their fullest potential. In both scenarios you are paying a certain amount for things you don’t need or use.
Can Your EHR Integrate with Other Software?
One of the biggest advantages of using a cloud based EHR is integrations with other software applications and business systems. No single software solution will be able to manage all your practice needs. You may be using a practice management system, a payment processing system and a patient communication system in addition to all the paperwork. When you deploy a cloud based EHR, it should integrate with your existing systems.
Remember even if the EHR is compatible with whatever you are using today, you might want to switch applications in the future. What if you decide to change your payment processing system only to find that the EHR won’t support it? This is one way of making sure your EHR solution is reasonably future proof.
Are You Still Using a Server?
One reason for the massive popularity of cloud based EHRs is the ease of use and maintenance. You don’t have to purchase and maintain the hardware or worry about software updates, security patches etc. But not all cloud EHRs are equal in that respect. Some vendors still require clients to have a server on site for certain functions and tasks. How is that helping your practice? If you are still using your own server or some other hardware, then you’re not getting the full benefits of cloud computing.
There are quite a few providers who used to offer on-premise EHRs but are now transitioning to the cloud. But developing software for the cloud needs different skills, knowledge and expertise. Beware of assurances from vendors who promise that you can get rid of your servers a few months after you deploy their solution. You don’t know if they can keep their promise! it’s a good idea to select vendors who have experience with building cloud systems and avoid surprises down the line.
Are You Paying a Fair Price?
There are many types of pricing plans for EHRs. Some vendors charge by the number of users. Others by the number of patients and yet others based on what features you’re using. Many use complicated tariff plans where you will be penalized for going over a certain arbitrary number of users. Sooner or later you’ll find yourself juggling patient records or switching dentists around to remain under that limit.
It’s always a good idea to review your EHR contract every year. Do you still have the same number of users as when you started? If your practice is growing quickly, you might want to account for that in the future. Your EHR should be able to move you to a different plan if your needs change at any time. Otherwise you’ll end up paying more for excess capacity or you have to struggle with limited functionality until you can switch plans at the end of the year.