Over the years, the EHR has developed a poor reputation as a time-waster, a source of frustration for staff and a significant contributor of burnout in the healthcare industry. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 59% of physicians said their EHR negatively impacted their time at work. This is because EHRs can be inflexible, hard to use and lack interoperability with other systems.
With so many problems surrounding the reputation of these tools, its key to remember that EHRs are meant to help your practice, not hinder it. At the end of the day, it should enable your clinic to provide better quality care. If the EHR you use is a prominent cause of stress, it’s time for a change.
Of course, that’s easier said than done, and there’s a reason why legacy EHR companies retain a large percentage of their customers. It’s not because they’re the best software on the market, it’s because changing EHRs is often stressful in itself. However, consider these points:
DO be concerned about transition time and related costs
The actual transition process between EHRs is going to be a hassle no matter what. It’s a real concern, but NOT a reason to stick with a software that doesn’t meet your clinic’s needs. Make sure whichever provider you select has a clearly-defined process for transitioning your data, training staff and setting up personalized forms and processes. They should guarantee a set amount of time and should be extremely clear on additional costs associated with set up and transition. Most importantly, choose an EHR provider that is transparent and makes you feel comfortable and supported in the transition process.
DON’T be concerned about the software learning curve
A significant reason why clinics switch EHRs is that they feel their current software isn’t intuitive and easy-to-use. While this might be the case, some staff might not see it that way at first. Any new software is going to come with a learning curve, but this shouldn’t be a concern. Learning curves are always temporary, and once the transition period passes, the new EHR should save your current staff time in the long run and make onboarding new staff members much more seamless. But even though learning curves don’t last forever, remember to place value on an EHR company that can provide quality training to your staff.
DO be concerned about cost and payment structure
Cost is an obvious factor in the decision to change EHRs. And while this should be a concern, it can also be helpful to reframe the way you think about the cost of an EHR. Sometimes, the cost of a new EHR can equal a higher monthly payment, but that doesn’t always mean it’s more expensive in the long-term. Most legacy EHRs charge customers for every customization or customer support question, while newer players tend to favor a subscription model.
With this in mind, be sure to factor in software updates as part of the cost. Ask yourself if the potential new EHR is keeping up with changing technologies in a way that will meet your needs in the long haul, or if they at least have a plan to regularly update their system.
DON’T be concerned about newer, emerging companies
The EHR market is dominated by a few legacy software systems, but believe it or not, these are often the ones giving the industry its bad reputation. Even though these tools are usually insufficient, the reason why they’re still so prominent is that providers view them as the “safe choice.” Yes, these systems have been around longer than most of their smaller competitors, but history doesn’t always equal satisfaction.
The truth is, there are thousands of EHR providers offering smoother processes and newer innovations that can lead to much better user experience. And no matter how long a provider has been in business, check to see if they have strong relationships with their customers and demonstrate a deep understanding of the day-to-day operations of healthcare staff.
The fear of changing EHRs is real and intimidating, but for a tool your staff relies on every day, having an EHR that meets your needs should be non-negotiable. If your EHR isn’t adding value to your practice, consider making a change.
About Khalid Al-Maskari
Khalid Al-Maskari is the CEO of Health Information Management Systems (HiMS), a company that offers Axiom Electronic Health Record (EHR) software that harnesses the power of technology to create value for integrated healthcare providers.