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101 Tips to Make Your EMR and EHR More Useful – EHR Tips 51-55

Posted on August 30, 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 next entry covering Shawn Riley’s list of 101 Tips to Make your EMR and EHR More Useful. I hope you’re enjoying the series.

55 Discover how easy it is to interface to the EMR.
One good indication of how easy an EMR system is to interface is to look at how many companies they interface with. Another is to talk with other users of that EMR that have had to have an interface created with said EMR. As I mentioned in a recent comment response, just because they say they “can” or “could” do an interface doesn’t mean that they actually will. Add interface requirements in your contract if they’re needed. Be sure to include the expenses related to the interface in there as well.

54. Make sure to understand the licensing model
There are a lot of ways for an EHR vendor to make you pay. So, be sure you’re aware of all the expenses related to buying and implementing an EHR. Instead of recounting all the possible EHR costs here, I’m just going to link you to my pretty comprehensive list of unexpected EHR costs. Going through that list will help make sure you know what you’re getting into cost wise. You can be sure the EHR salesperson won’t be giving you this list.

53. Does your product handle billing?
Many people love the integrated billing in an EHR. Some can get away without it, but most people I know prefer some billing component as part of the EHR.

52. How is licensing managed?
While related to #54, I see this EHR tip as understanding when and how they’ll charge for licenses. Do you have to buy a whole group of licenses which you may or may not use or can you add licenses later as you grow your practice? As Shawn suggests in this tip, it’s best if you can do “just in time licensing.”

51. Make certain you know what upgrades for license expansions cost
Understand the costs related to expanding into a new line of service. Do you have all the modules you need? What’s the cost to add new modules? Will your server support that new module?

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.

101 Tips to Make Your EMR and EHR More Useful – EHR Tips 56-60

Posted on August 22, 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 next entry covering Shawn Riley’s list of 101 Tips to Make your EMR and EHR More Useful. I hope you’re enjoying the series.

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.

60. Reporting, reporting, reporting, reports
What’s the point in collecting the data if you can’t report on it? I’ve before about the types of EMR reports that you can get out of the EMR system. The reports a hospital require will be much more robust than an ambulatory practice. In fact, outside of the basic reports (A/R, Appointments, etc), most ambulatory practices that I know don’t run very many reports. I’d say it’s haphazard report running at best.

Although, I won’t be surprised if the need to report data from your EHR increases over the next couple years. Between the meaningful use reporting requirements and the movement towards ACO’s, you can be sure that being able to have a robust reporting system built into your EHR will become a necessity.

59. Are the meaningful use (MU) guidelines covered by your product?
Assuming you want to show meaningful use, make sure your EHR vendor is certified by an ONC-ATCB. Next, talk to some of their existing users that have attested to meaningful use stage 1. Third, ask them about their approach for handling meaningful use stage 2 and 3. Fourth, evaluate how they’ve implemented some of the meaningful use requirements so you get an idea of how much extra work you’ll have to do beyond your regular documenting to meet meaningful use.

58. It they aren’t CCHIT certified take a really really hard look
Well, it looks like this tip was written pre-ONC-ATCB certifying bodies. Of course, readers of this site and its sister site, EMR and HIPAA, will be aware that CCHIT Has Become Irrelevant. Now it’s worth taking a hard look if the EHR isn’t an ONC-ATCB certified EHR. There are a few cases where it might be ok, but they better have a great reason not to be certified. Not because the EHR certification provides you any more value other than the EHR vendor will likely need that EHR certification to stay relevant in the current EHR market.

57. What billing systems do you interface with?
These days it seems in vogue to have an integrated EMR and PMS (billing system). Either way, it’s really important to evaluate how your EMR is going to integrate with your billing. Plus, there can be tremendous benefits to the tight integration if done right.

56. How much do changes and customizations cost?
In many cases, you can see and plan for the customization that you’ll need as part of the EHR implementation. However, there are also going to be plenty of unexpected customizations that you don’t know about until you’re actually using your EHR (Check out this recent post on Unexpected EHR Expenses). Be sure to have the pricing for such customizations specified in the contract. Plus, as much as possible try to understand how open they are to doing customizations for their customers.

Check out my analysis of all 101 EMR and EHR tips.

101 Tips to Make Your EMR and EHR More Useful – EHR Tips 61-65

Posted on August 15, 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.

65. Don’t forget LEAN and Six-Sigma
I can’t say I’ve ever heard of someone in the ambulatory EHR market using LEAN or Six-Sigma. Maybe it could apply. I’m not sure since I’ve never done it. So, I can’t really comment on it either way. Although, I’ve heard some people who love both. I’d be interested to hear readers thoughts on this tip.

64. Remember the EMR is not the end-all, be-all of quality
EMR is just an EMR. It’s what you do with your EMR that matters. I always to suggest deciding what you want to accomplish with your EMR before you implement it. Then, you have a measure to select an EMR. Goals when you’re implementing the EMR and measures when you’re evaluating your EMR implementation.

63. Ensure the product has expandability for other service lines
Are you planning to expand? Is there any possibility to expand? Make sure your EMR can expand with you. Switching EHR is terrible.

62. What are the reporting skill sets necessary
Making sure the EMR you select has the reporting you need is a given. Knowing how many people on the planet have the skills needed to run those reports is even more important. It’s never fun to be at the whim of the EMR vendor to get the data that you need.

61. Don’t be afraid of low cost or open source products
Open source EMR has come a long way and is a reasonable option to consider for many. Just be sure to calculate the other costs related to using open source software since you won’t have to pay for the software itself, but you might have to pay for other development, integration and/or support.

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.

101 Tips to Make Your EMR and EHR More Useful – EHR Tips 66-70

Posted on August 8, 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.

70. Hard coded work flows CAN be your friend
EMR vendors are constantly playing the game of out of the box functionality versus unlimited workflow design. This is one way to look at hard coded work flows. Sometimes they have benefits since it’s one less thing that you have to configure on your system.

The other way to look at the above EMR tip is when it comes to reporting. Often if you’ve customized a workflow in your EMR, then you lose out on the benefit of the reporting that’s available with a hard coded work flow. Sometimes you can get the benefit of both, but some advanced reports really benefit from a hard coded work flow.

69. Social Media integration – the way business is done today
No EMR system has really deep social media integration….yet!? Although, it’s worth checking with your EHR vendor to see their views of the future of social media integration. Especially if you’re in a market that has a lot of physicians. You can be sure that future patients will want some sort of social media integration as part of their visit.

68. Determine how the EMR vendor encourages innovation
This EMR tip can be taken a number of different ways. The first is how does your EMR vendor innovate internally. Take a look at their last 3-5 release cycles to get an idea of how quickly they release features and how innovative those features are. It will tell you a lot about future releases of their EHR software.

The second way to take this is by asking the question, how do they take feedback and innovation from their community? Do they have an open API that would allow you (or some developer you pay) to be able to extend their EHR functionality? If you’re someone who likes to tinker with your practice, then an open API that will let you do that would be essential.

67. Determine how innovation is actually put into the practice
This EMR tip highlights the subtle difference between an EHR vendor that talks the talk and the EHR vendor that walks the walk. Every time your EHR vendor says, “That feature will be in the next release.” a red flag should go up in your mind. Maybe this company thinks and talks big, but can’t actually perform big. Although, age of the EHR vendor should play some part in this evaluation as well.

66. Is the patient portal comprehensive
Meaningful Use has almost made patient portals a requirement. It’s hard to say exactly what future meaningful use stages will require, but I won’t be surprised if a patient portal plays a large part in the future of healthcare. Plus, the new digital generation is going to be very interested in using a patient portal. You’ll want to make sure your EHR vendor is ready for both of these trends.

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.

101 Tips to Make Your EMR and EHR More Useful – EHR Tips 71-75

Posted on August 5, 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.

75. Find out how easy it is to do process improvement
This could be phrased another way. How much with the EMR you’re considering improve your processes and how much will the EMR cause you to change your EMR processes for the worse? I love when EMR vendors like to say that they’re EMR makes it so the clinic doesn’t have to change their processes. It makes me laugh, because just the fact that you have to enter something electronically instead of on paper means you’re changing something. Even if the doctor still writes on paper and scans it in, that means they’ve changed their process since now they have to scan it and view the documents in a scanned format.

The point obviously being that any and every EHR implementation requires change. The question you should consider is how many of the changes will improve your clinic and how many of the changes will cause heartache. I’d guess that every EHR vendor will have quite a few of both types of change.

74. Predictive analytics are a huge benefit
I’ll let Shawn’s words speak for themselves on this one: “Everyone wants to know what volumes are going to like like next year. How many encounters will I have? How many admissions? If the analytics are built straight into the EMR you will have a much easier time trying to estimate the costs and resources necessary for the upcoming years. This improves your ability to do strategic planning, and should lower your costs from 3rd party applications or consultants.”

73. Automatic trending with graphing is a huge help
As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. It’s amazing the impact a graph can have on seeing trends. This is true if the graph is about an individual patient or across all your patients. Look for EHR vendors that do a good job capturing the trends you want to watch as a doctor.

72. Evaluate process flows that come directly from the application
This relates to EMR tip #75 above. Many process flows in an EHR are flexible, but other things are hard coded and can’t be changed. Make sure the hard coded EHR processes are ones that you can live with before you sign your EHR contract. If you can’t see any hard coded processes in the EHR you’re evaluating, you probably haven’t looked hard enough or in the right places.

71. Are we integrating or interfacing
This topic is particularly important in the hospital setting where you always have multiple systems running. How well you integrate or interface those systems matters a lot. Plus, every EHR vendor has different abilities to integrate or interface. Be aware of what’s possible and more importantly the limitations of those integrations or interfaces.

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.

101 Tips to Make Your EMR and EHR More Useful – EHR Tips 76-80

Posted on August 4, 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.

80. Make certain the leader of your project’s support team is a physician
I’d say this is true in about 98% of the cases. In some very rare cases, you might be able to get away with a strong practice manager as the leader of the project. However, in most cases you’re going to need a physician driving the bus. This physician leader is going to be the person who helps you get buy-in for the EMR project. Without this buy-in, your EMR project is on very shaky ground.

79. Evaluate the Process FIRST!
One of my favorite comments about technology is that it exacerbates any current issues. It’s like taking a magnify glass on any process issues you may have and makes them into really big problems. So you definitely want to take care of any bad processes before you do your EMR implementation.

78. Make certain reporting is easy and flexible.
Reports are becoming more and more important. Meaningful use is basically one big report (and some process changes I guess). Medicaid and other insurance companies need reports and their demand for information is just going to increase over time. Plus, you EHR’s reports can be the key to you running a successful medical practice. They can point out areas that you can improve your practice. Make sure they have strong reporting capabilities that don’t require a special consultant or phone call to support to run every time.

77. Find out which Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems integrate to the EMR.
This tip is more for hospital systems. Most ambulatory EHR systems do a pretty good job of document management. Plus, if they don’t most ambulatory clinics couldn’t pay for an ECM anyway. Either way, you need to take into account how you’re going to manage all the paper documents you still get and likely scan into your systems.

76. Do site visits
The benefits of a site visit have been mentioned at least a half dozen times already in this series of 101 tips and we’re only a quarter of the way through. That should be reason enough to do site visits. Site visits provide the first hand knowledge of how an EHR is used in a real practice. Plus, it lets you ask questions from someone who’s been through the EHR process. This connection can really pay off later if you go with that EHR vendor, because they can be a reference for when you have practical questions about your EHR as well.

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.

101 Tips to Make Your EMR and EHR More Useful – EHR Tips 81-85

Posted on August 2, 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.

85. Test, retest, and test the network and wireless
Far too many EHR implementations fail because of basic technology issues. Of course, the blame usually gets placed squarely on the head of the EHR company. However, in many of the cases, the EHR company has no control over the issues you have. Your local wireless and network is one place where you can doom an EHR installation and the EHR company can do nothing about it. If you want to have a great EHR installation make sure you have a great network and/or wireless infrastructure set up and tested.

84. Have ONE number to call
This recommendation applies more to large EMR installations than it does to small ones. The basic suggestion is not to give one phone number for EMR issues (ie. I can’t login) and another for technology related issues (ie. my PC crashed). The problem with multiple lines is that people don’t generally know the difference between an EMR issue and a PC issue. At the end of the day, they’re likely to consider almost everything an EMR issue. So, they’re going to call the same number anyway. You might as well just have one number that knows how to triage the issue well and direct them to the right support resource.

83. Remember who the support team’s customers are
Another recommendation for hospital EHR support. It is a great idea to remember that the support team’s customers are the clinicians that are calling for help. Prepare them for the calls they’re going to get. While clinicians are highly educated, that doesn’t guarantee that their education included even basic computer skills. You’ll be surprised how many of the issues have to do with basic computer skills as much as any EMR specific support.

82. Have a communication strategy for when things go wrong
Things are bound to go wrong. So, be ready to communicate those issues. Don’t sweep the issues under the rug either. Communicate more than is necessary. It won’t hurt as much to over communicate as it will to not communicate something important.

81. Make all of your planning very public within your organization
The fastest way to get buy in for an EHR project is to involve your organization in the planning process. Yes, that means that you’re going to hear some harsh feedback from people about what you’ve planned. Be grateful that you’re hearing the feedback during the planning stage when you can work to do something about it. That’s much better than being half way through the project and hearing the harsh criticism of your project.

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.

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.

101 Tips to Make Your EMR and EHR More Useful – EHR Tips 91-95

Posted on July 29, 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.

95. Background check the vendor’s support team
This is such great advice. You’re guaranteed to have to call your EHR’s support number. You want to know what kind of answer you get. Certainly this can be learned by asking current clients of the EHR vendor. Although, don’t just ask the clients the EHR vendor gives you. Also, be sure to call other users of that EHR system to understand what kind of support they get when they have an issue.

Online forums are also a great place to learn about support. Just be aware that online you’re likely only going to read about the best and worst experiences that people have had with an EHR vendor. Of course, you can also always just give their support number a call and see what happens. Cold calling their support could teach you a lot about the type of service they provide.

94. Ask how the vendor ensures disaster recovery and business continuity
This is particularly important when you’re dealing with a SaaS EHR vendor. Don’t be shy asking them for details of how they’re doing this. In fact, if I were an EHR vendor I’d have a nice detailed explanation of how we’re doing it. If they’re doing it right, they’ll be happy to talk through the details.

If you’re considering a client server based EHR software, then some of this will fall to you and your IT team. However, your IT team can often only implement certain disaster recovery and business continuity features if your EHR vendor supports those features. So, be sure to have a competent IT person look over the EHR vendors capabilities. Plus, you might want to put these capabilities in your EHR contract since they often say one thing about disaster recovery and then deliver another.

93. TRY to use a vendor that actually has standards in their system I find this point from Shawn interesting. My first problem with it is that unfortunately we don’t have great standards in healthcare IT (yet?). However, a few that are easily recognized are HL7 and CCR/CCD. I honestly can’t say I’ve seen any vendor that doesn’t support HL7 though. So, since they all do it, that won’t help you much.

The other side of this coin is the various systems that an EHR vendor uses. Do they use a standard SQL database and a common programming language or do they use a proprietary database and programming language? I’m not sure this should be a complete deal killer, but there is some benefit to choosing an EMR system that uses a standard SQL database. Particularly if we’re talking about a client server EMR system. However, for most people this won’t likely have much impact on them. The only exception being that the language and/or database they use might be an indication of how “legacy” their EHR software is.

92. Google “product name + support forum”
There’s some real value for an EHR vendor to have an online support forum. In some cases, EHR vendors have support forums that are run by a third party. I think we can all see the value in sharing experiences using a specific EHR software with someone else who uses that same software. A lot of learning can happen that way. You’ll be amazed at how creative some people are and how vastly different they might use the same software.

My only problem with some of these third party online forums is that it can often mean that the support from that EHR vendor isn’t very good. Why do I say this? Because if the EHR vendor support was better, people wouldn’t have had to turn to these third party forums to get support. You can usually see if this is the case by browsing the threads of the forum and see how many complain about not getting support from the vendor and so that’s why they found the online forum.

I wouldn’t say an online forum is absolutely essential for an EHR company, but if they have one you should know about it and see what it’s like before you buy.

91. Google “product name + Twitter / Facebook / etc…
It seems that I wouldn’t knock an EHR company as much as Shawn does when it comes to an EHR vendor’s presence on things like Twitter and Facebook. Shawn says that it could be a sign that they’re stuck in the past. While this could be true, it could also just mean that they’ve chosen other forms of marketing that fit their skills and abilities.

While I don’t necessarily count lack of social media presence as a huge minus, it can be a huge plus. Twitter has become a great way for me to get support. For some reason companies like to listen more when I broadcast my need in a public forum. So, EHR companies that listen on the likes of Twitter might be a benefit for you when you’re not getting the support you need. Plus, an EHR vendor’s Twitter, Facebook and blog can tell you a lot about the personality of an EHR company. Something that can be really important in your assessment of the company.

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.

101 Tips to Make Your EMR and EHR More Useful – EHR Tips 96-101

Posted on July 28, 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.

Shawn Riley on HealthTechnica has collected a great list called 101 Tips to Make your EMR and EHR More Useful. I find lists like this really interesting and provide a great point of conversation. So, I’m planning to take the 101 ways, and over 10 or so blog posts, I’m going to cover each suggestion and where appropriate provide some commentary on the tip. I expect it will drive some really interesting conversation.

101. Trust, but verify
This is a fine suggestion. It’s a tough balance to achieve, because you want and need to have the trust of your EHR vendor, because once you’re ready to implement that EHR you’re likely going to ask them for help. Some of the help will be rather easy for them to support, but more often than not you might want to ask them for some pretty custom work to make the EHR work the way you want it to work for your clinic. So, you want to make sure that you have a good relationship with your EHR vendor.

However, that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with verifying what the EHR vendor and their salespeople are telling you. In fact, it would be a huge mistake not to verify. There are lots of open forums like this website where you can ask and verify a lot of what the EHR representatives are telling you. Also, visit other hospitals, healthcare centers, doctors etc. who have implemented an EHR from the same vendor.

100. Ask about the learning curve
Great suggestion! Although, I don’t think there’s much value asking the EHR vendor about the learning curve. Ok, maybe you can find a little value if you ask them on average how much training their users require to implement their EHR. However, the learning curve of an EHR goes far beyond the initial training. So, you should ask your EHR vendors existing users about the learning curve. Also, try to ask those doctors who have implemented in the last 3-6 months. It’s easy to forget how hard (or easy) it was to learn something when you did it a few years ago.

99. Ask what platforms are supported
Yes, most EMR software is very specific. You can actually find much of the breakout of which platforms various EHR companies support on this EHR and EMR Operating System Compatibility wiki page. Obviously, if you love your Apple products, then you’re going to need to be sure that your EHR platform supports it. Not to mention, the platforms an EHR vendor supports (or more likely doesn’t support) might be a sign of how well the EHR is at keeping up with the latest technological trends.

98. Look for long life and long term support
Switching EMRs is worse than implementing one in the first place. Sure, they usually go better than the initial implementation, but there’s nothing fun about switching EMR software. So, do what you can to ensure that the EHR that you choose is going to be around into the future. Otherwise, even if you don’t want to switch EHR software, you may be forced to do so. It’s not fun redesigning clinical processes for a new EHR.

97. How will your teams be educated on the EMR / EHR?
Yes, your whole team will need to be educated. Even if you have one person that’s educated on all the components and then trains the rest of your staff, each staff member is going to need training. There are even many EHR companies that offer unlimited training. It’s part of their sales pitch. Basically, they offer unlimited training as a way to show that they have to make the EHR really easy to use so that they don’t spend all their time training you.

Personally, I also like to do some up front training for the EHR implementation and then budget for some training a few weeks or a month down the road. You’ll be amazed how much more you learn and how much better questions you ask after having used the EHR for a few weeks or month.

96. Ensure audit logs are easy to get to and are comprehensive
I like to do this best by imagining 5 legal scenarios that you might need the EMR audit logs. Then, ask the EHR vendor to provide you the audit logs for those 5 scenarios so that you can see how it would look if you happen to need that information. This is even better if you can test drive the EHR software and try running the logs yourself.

There you have it. My commentary on the first 5 of 101 EMR and EHR tips. 10 more posts to go. 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 95.