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Between the government's EMR (electronic medical records) mandate and HIPAA laws, no healthcare facility is complete without EMR software to manage its workflow and patients' medical history. With so many vendors offering the software, though, deciding which is the best solution for your facility presents a real challenge.
Not all EMR solutions offer the same features and benefits, and costs vary widely. You also need to choose between web-based applications and self-hosting, and, of course, the vendor's security measures are of utmost importance, otherwise you jeopardize your patients' privacy and your practice's HIPAA compliance. Research your options carefully before signing on with any vendor.
Create a List of Requirements
When looking for the best EMR vendor, you must ask yourself, what is it that you really need? Common requirements include:
- Prescribing software
- Patient inflow tracking
Talking to other providers will help you determine your needs. And, of course, talk to providers and staff within your own facility. Once you create a list of what you want from an EMR program, comparing vendors is much easier.
Consider Specialty-Specific EMR Vendors
Many EMR software systems are designed for specialties and include preinstalled templates that offer significant reductions in time and effort.
Your two hosting options for EMR software are cloud-based systems and those you host on your own server. Many providers are switching to cloud-based, since they don't have to worry about the hassles (and expense) of hosting their own server, or paying for licenses for multiple users. However, many people still prefer the traditional method of hosting and housing their systems onsite. This is especially true for practices without reliable Internet service (a necessity for web-based software). If you prefer a cloud solution, ask the vendor to explain their security precautions.
You also need to look at the features and whether the system integrates with your current systems. Also, find out what happens when updates are available.
Have a Lawyer Review the Purchase
Before actually sealing the deal, remember to consult a lawyer and sign the papers in front of him as proof. You need to make sure that the vendor has provided what he claims to provide. You need to be able to understand all the features and statements that the vendor is stating in order to be aware of what you are buying. All this helps avoid any fraud.
A great EMR provider is one which offers to keep the system updated. You need to inquire about whether these services have an additional cost or are included in the package. Will there be updates, which can be installed quickly and seamlessly without the need for long downtime? This will help you keep your system up-to-date.
Even the most intuitive software systems often require at least some level of training. This is especially true with self-hosted options, as your IT personnel must maintain your system. If the vendor doesn't include live training sessions with your purchase, they may offer online materials, such as webinars and manuals.
It takes time to research your options, but it's worth it in the long run, since you're more likely to get a system that meets your facility's needs at a price within your budget.