An electronic healthcare record (EHR) system is the cornerstone of how a hospital manages patient care. Along with healthcare equipment and new or used medical carts with computers and power, making the right choice not only will save you money but will improve the quality of patient care.
Choosing the right one for your operation requires careful research and planning.
Lack of forethought regarding the key features your facility needs leads to dissatisfaction and extra expenditures for things like upgrades or system replacement.
Make a list of all the features staff considers essential, and those features that might be nice to have. Include all stakeholders in this early stage of the process: doctors, nurses, IT staff, administration employees, and whoever else will use the system.
Form a Selection Committee
Create an EHR selection committee. You need a doctor, nurse, your IT manager, payroll, and a support staff person to work through the process.
Assign a project manager who sets agendas and leads the team.
While you don’t want to rush the process, set a reasonable timeline for completion for the project manager to use to set goals.
Start with a Checklist
One of the first things the committee must do is create a checklist.
There are a lot of EHR programs in the marketplace. Your checklist should include all the features your clinic requires, including what each section expects.
Use this to narrow down the field of prospects. Set a maximum of ten or twelve possibilities, then use the checklist to narrow the list to three or four.
Look at Software to Match Your Facility
Match the software with your facility. Many software companies offer EHR software programs tailored to specific specialties or size and type of facilities. Many have add-ons or upgrades that all the user to include additional features later as hospitals expand or needs change.
Don’t Settle for a System too Generic
If the system is too generic, you likely will have problems getting the system to do exactly what you need it to accomplish. Get something that is geared toward your hospital’s strengths and specialty that is flexible enough to tweak or expand later.
Easy to Use
Complex software often creates more problems than it solves. Find a system that is simple and easy to learn for all members of your staff. Complicated programming and unintuitive drop-down menus can not only frustrate staff but increase the risk of errors.
Include all end users in any demonstrations or test-runs. Encourage each section managers at the very least to view videos and read about the product before making a final decision on what to buy.
The complexity of most EHR systems requires a lot of hardware resources. You may have to consider restructuring your infrastructure to support a quality EHR program and will need to budget accordingly.
Remember, these systems will experience constant use. Nurses and doctors will wheel powered medical carts to patients’ bedsides, inputting data, and accessing the system for information about a patient’s medical history.
You need a good, and secure, Wi-Fi system and cloud storage and backup for use with your mobile carts.
Ensure whatever system you decide on has excellent security features. You want to know who has accessed the system, when, and what was accessed.
Spend some time carefully checking references. Go beyond checking online reviews.
Ask for references of other facilities that use the software. Make an appointment with that healthcare facilities’ administration to see the product in action.
You want a system that not only works well but a vendor that partners with you to help not only implement the service but responds promptly to any problems that may arise in the future.
Determine Your First Choice and a Backup
Negotiations with the vendor can break down. Your first choice may not be available for any number of other reasons once the purchasing process begins, so always include a backup.