Revenue Cycle Management Blog | GroupOne Health Source

Time for an EHR Switch: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

Written by Nicole Laucks | March 4, 2014

Considering switching to a more moder, easy to use,  EHR software? You're not alone. Many practices are switching from an outdated legacy EHR software to a new system that allows for things like device integration, mobile access, smart phone apps, and more. However, not everyone is having an easy time letting go of their out dated software. Here are 5 questions to ask yourself if you're considering switching to a new EHR software.

1. Can my current software guarantee  
ICD-10 readiness?

You may be one of those physicians considering alternative EMR and PM software solutions but before you venture down that road, you may want to ask yourself these 5 questions to ensure success the second time around.

The upcoming coding changes in October of this year with ICD-10 should be a main concern at this point.  Your current software vendor should be able to tell you by now when they will be ready, what their plan is, and how you fit into that equation.  If you have still not received an answer to your questions on ICD-10 readiness you will need to consider other options.  

ICD-10 will be a big change to your practice and should not be underestimated. Don't be stuck with a software that will not help you meet those challenges and overcome them in October.  You also don't want to wait until August to find out that your software won't support ICD-10.  Give yourself and your staff enough time to switch to another software successfully if it does come to that point. 

2. Is the EMR user friendly without being too simple?

User friendliness is huge with an EMR and a PM software.  If you find yourself having difficulty documenting or using another application within the software you could be wasting a significant amount of time and energy.  

Some systems are built for certain specialties or certain size practices.  If your software is working against you instead of with you I'd recommend figuring out if it is the software or if you need additional training to solve the problem.  If additional training won't do the trick then it is time to check out what other companies can offer you.

3. Is my support team helpful or a hindrance?

If you are having a hard time reaching your support team to resolve an issue it can make the effort seem pointless.  Having a dependable support team to help your practice succeed will make a big difference when it comes to your satisfaction not just with the software but with the vendor.

Take note of how you and your staff communicate with your support team and also how often.  If your practice is submitting a high number of support tickets then you might be wasting your time with the software.


4. Will it be an additional cost to upgrade my current software to the latest version?

Some vendors will charge a maintenance cost in order to keep each clients database up to date with coding changes, new features, etc.  The cost for this is usually discussed during the initial agreement and is an expected cost year after year.  However, other vendors will assume that you will ask questions about an upgrade when the time approaches.  

When that time comes you could see a surprise cost that is nearly double what you paid for the software initially.  In order to meet Meaningful Use stage 2, 3, and beyond you will likely need a software that will grow to meet these qualifications.  

Will you have to pay a large sum in order to update to this version of the software?  Will your vendor charge you for any upgrades on your current system in order to meet ICD-10 compliance?  Find out now if you are going to face additional hidden fees to upgrade your software.

5. Do I see a future with this company?

Hindsight is 20/20 but what does your future look like if you stay with your current software?  If your current vendor has not adapted well to the changes in healthcare IT and healthcare regulations you may want to consider another option.  

The future of healthcare IT will likely become more complex.  Find a vendor that will be able to adapt and develop a software that works for you.  Consider if the company is privately held or if it is public.  

Public companies can sometimes focus too much on profit causing product development and innovation to take a back seat.  If considering a private company be sure to do your research on their profits.  Does the company show growth and profit or are they possibly facing a buy out down the road?

Press releases from the company can give you insight into their spending and investment habits to help you better understand the direction they are heading.