101 Tips to Make Your EMR and EHR More Useful – EHR Tips 86-90

Posted on August 1, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Time for the second entry covering Shawn Riley’s list of 101 Tips to Make your EMR and EHR More Useful. I hope you’re enjoying the series.

90. How does the vendor prioritize issues?
I think this EMR suggestion can be taken a couple of ways. It could be seen as how they prioritize support issues or how they prioritize new release features. Both are valuable to understand. How will the EHR vendor react if you call with a major problem that’s causing you to lose money? Will you get someone in India who is powerless to really help you or will you get someone who realizes the financial impact you’re experiencing and will act immediately.

When it comes to new EMR features, it’s important to understand that every EMR company has a long list of possible new features. This list will never ever be complete. So, every EMR company has to make choices about which features it releases next. Do they release features that are useless to you and your clinic or do they focus on releasing features that each time make your life that much better?

89 Evaluate your overall support needs
Does your clinic work 24×7, weekends or other odd shift? Is your EHR vendor’s support available during those times? Are you on the west coast and your EHR support works east coast hours? I’ve known a few doctors offices get burned late in the evening when their EHR vendor support was gone. Most of the time tomorrow is fine, but when it’s not you don’t want to be stuck without support.

88. Make sure you have solid control, and a backup plan, for user access
Managing user access isn’t that hard, but it does require consistency. Don’t rely on your EHR vendor to do it right. Nothing’s worse for a new employee than having to wait for their login to be created and your hands are tied because you submitted a ticket to your EHR vendor and you’re waiting for their response. Same goes for inactivating employees that leave the clinic. You want to be able to control this.

87. Have a defined Service Level Agreement
A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is especially important if you’re using a SaaS based EHR. In the small clinic environment, you won’t often have much choice what the SLA will be. Most EHR vendors have an SLA that they commit to and you won’t likely be able to change it. Just be sure to know what they’ve agreed to do and make sure you’re comfortable with the agreement.

Large systems or hospital EMR implementations have more room to negotiate the details of their SLA. Just be ready to discuss the added cost of an extra 9 added to your 99.99% uptime. Every additional 9 gets incrementally more expensive.

86. Define a local Service Center before going live with the EMR
I’d never heard of a local service center. Here’s the description from the original list:
“Most people think of the “Service Center” as the Help Desk. However, in a clinical environment, a service center is a much more robust group. They include application analysts and often informatics and clinical staff specifically for the purpose of handling EMR issues.”

Maybe this applies best to a hospital EMR installation. A service center like the one described could make sense in that type of large install. However, it doesn’t make much sense in a small ambulatory EHR setting.

If you want to see my analysis of the other 101 EMR and EHR tips, I’ll be updating this page with my 101 EMR and EHR tips analysis. So, click on that link to see the other EMR tips.