Sooner or later it’s bound to happen that your once-fast and accurate EHR has become slow and full of errors, as well as not always receiving the updates necessary to keep it up to speed in processing your office’s claims or retrieving patient information. In last 5 years, more than 60 percent of users have replaced their EHR systems – a fact attributable to not only changes in the way claims are billed, including those ICD-10 codes, but in rapid technological advances in both medicine and IT that have reduced the usefulness of many older systems.
Replace or upgrade – what to do?
· Hidden costs of systems replacement
Expenses can include data migration charges for extracting and moving data from your existing system to the replacement and can run as high as $10,000 - $15,000.
· Lost productivity during implementation
Your vendor agreement should cover roll-out time and a final “launch” date, while planning for team learning curves. Experts recommend setting aside about three months of working capital to cover any slowdown.
In light of these expenses, it might be more cost-effective to stay with your current EHR for a while longer. Here are some challenges posed by sub-par EHR with possible solutions:
System functionality is “missing in action”
From the beginning, your office may have experienced problems from less-than-robust features, such as no appointment reminders or e-prescribing capabilities. In some cases you may be able to supplement your system with individually available software and related products that can do one thing well. You might want to ask the vendor if extra products such as accounting or practice management software, is available for seamless integration into your current EHR.
The system is slowing down or becoming error-prone
This was the top reason for replacement of EHR systems in a recent buyer trend report. Be sure that you haven’t missed any options already available such as customizable features like workflow of data screens for easier use. On the other hand, frequent error messages, false-alarm alerts and other annoyances may signal that it’s time to replace your system, especially if you have already updated/ upgraded with only short-term improvement.
The system can’t grow with your practice
If you plan or have already added another provider to the practice and he or she is in a different specialty - you are an internist and you add a gastroenterologist – your system may come up short in specialty-specific templates and other software features. Giving each physician his or her own easily-accessed information formats while facilitating user-friendly sharing of patient data between providers is more critical than ever due to quality care metrics. You may be able to add on specific templates, but if user feedback remains negative, it’s time to replace.
Unsatisfactory customer service
If you have experienced more than one of these “red flags” then it’s time to find a new vendor.
- The company takes days or weeks to fix a problem
- You have to repeatedly explain your problem due to being passed around between multiple agents
- You or your staff waste time waiting for an agent to pick up the line or return a call
- The communication gateways are limited in terms of available hours as well as online assistance
Too much time between updates
Regardless of what the system was capable of doing when purchased, over time you’ll need to update or upgrade the EHR to keep up with the demands of a growing practice as well as changing regulations. How often the vendor issue new updates, how helpful they are with implementing them and the cost are all important considerations, especially since digital analytics as well as patient technological expectations are playing larger roles in healthcare payment and recordkeeping models.
A checklist for what to ask before negotiating with vendors:
Before negotiating with a vendor, know what you need and expect your system to do. A workflow analysis will tell you how well your practice creates, maintains and shares medical record information.
- How long has the supplier or vendor been doing business? How many sales and support personnel are assigned to your region? What were their sales numbers in the past year?
- Will the EHR software enhance or limit the functionality of your practice? Is it specialty-specific?
- Are there features included that you will never use or can you chose from a menu of customizable a la carte options to avoid being stuck with a “one-size-fits-none” program?
- Will the new technology and software successfully interface with systems you already use regularly?
- Will you be able to test the EHR software before committing to the final agreement? How long will the testing period last?
When evaluating EHR software plans, keep the READY strategy in mind:
R - Rapid adoption and implementation with a system vetted and desired by providers and other users seen as part of the solution.
E - Evidence-based and able to deliver best practice options, such as communicating among teams to address issues like sepsis or enable other clinical decisions.
A - Advanced workflow to help providers work smarter, not just harder, in response to increasingly complicated healthcare demands.
D - Dedicated team support by empowering and encouraging your team in the decision-making process.
Y – Your practice’s success with an EHR system capable of delivering system benefits through workflows, adoption, evidence and other factors.
How M-Scribe can bridge the EHR gap
With so many companies and choices available as well as a practice’s specialty-driven needs, zeroing in on a system can be time-consuming and challenging. Enlisting the help of M-Scribe - a claims management, documentation and billing service compatible with multiple platforms - can maximize client EHR functionality and efficiency. Partnering with M-Scribe’s experienced processing team ensures that accurate claims are sent out on time for faster reimbursement while meeting quality regulations. Request a free consultation via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 770-666-0470 to learn how your practice can save time while improving compliance and revenues.