Selecting an EMR Vendor - Look for Local Support

 By: Jamie S Hanson
Now that your office has decided to invest in an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system, you'll need to choose a vendor. What should you look for?

Electronic medical records are gaining in popularity. These legal medical records are digitally stored on an organization's computer system. Examples of medical organizations that use electronic medical records include hospitals, outpatient healthcare facilities, and doctors' offices. Electronic medical records allow records to be stored, manipulated, and retrieved at any time.

Of course, there are some basic requirements that any EMR should meet, such as meaningful use. The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT) also now tests EMRs for basic functionality and certifies vendor products meeting the tested items.

But you'll want to look beyond these basics when selecting an EMR. First, you may require functionality specific to your medical specialty. Additionally, you'll want a product that feels right, and the CCHIT tests only for functionality, not for usability.

Another important-and often overlooked-element in EMR selection is support. The EMR you choose will be an integral part of your practice's operation for many years, so you'll want to select an EMR vendor that will be around to support it.

Clearly, it isn't possible for an EMR vendor to operate in every location it sells EMRs, but it can still offer local support in many ways.

That's important, because assistance with installation and training are critical. Additionally, as with any software, you can expect occasional problems-and your EMR vendor should be available to fix them quickly and efficiently. Then you can take advantage of the benefits of an EMR software system:

- Increase Revenue- EMR software will enable you to code higher, offer new services and help your practice conserve expensive office space by reducing the number of charts and filing cabinets in your office.

- Provide Better Patient Care - EMR software helps practices provide a higher quality service to their patients by empowering providers with information at the click of a mouse or a tap of the pen. With EMR, physicians can spend more time with their patients and less time on documentation. EMR also helps reduce errors through better, immediate documentation and alerts.

- Improve Productivity - EMR software will nearly eliminate the task of looking for, pulling and filing charts the first year. EMR also reduces the amount of time it takes to refill prescriptions by as much as 80% and aids in the management of reports and images such as doctor reports, labs, x-rays and MRI's.

The bottom line: Be sure to ask potential vendors about local support. Your EMR vendor will be your partner in a long term undertaking-and as with any partnership, it's best to get to know your partner well before you commit.
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