If you are like most medical professionals, you don’t spend time evaluating technology vendors and solutions every day. It is something that only comes up once in a while, but it is important that you make the right decisions. Whether you are evaluating a new EHR, telemedicine technology, or practice management system, there are a few things you can do to make the selection process run smoothly and ensure you get exactly what you need.
Start with Your Goals
Before you even think about software features and capabilities, get very clear about what you are trying to achieve. Goals for your EHR, for example, may be fewer errors, quicker appointments, or more efficient scheduling. If you are implementing telemedicine, you may be trying to increase revenue, improve work/life balance, or achieve better health outcomes. Understanding your goals will help you ask much smarter questions as you look at the available tools.
Assemble a Team
There are a few important roles in a good technology evaluation. Someone has to be the ultimate decision maker, of course, but it is useful to get input from people on your staff who may have had experience with similar technology before, and people who will use the solution you select.
Look for More than Technology
When you start talking to vendors, be prepared to hear, “Me too!” a lot. Most EHR systems, for example, have the same set of core features. This problem often leads buyers to the mistaken idea that they should just buy the cheapest solution. Unfortunately, practices often find that the low-cost providers can’t offer the expertise, support, and product evolution needed to be successful. Instead, we think it is smart to ask the vendor what makes them unique. How can they contribute to your success in a way that others can’t?
Talk to Peers
You almost certainly know people who are using technology similar to what you need, so chatting with them is a great place to start. Also don’t be shy about asking the vendor for references, testimonials, and case studies. You want to really focus on those from practices that are similar to yours.
Don’t Forget About HIPAA
Security is an important consideration for anyone buying software, but it is especially pressing for healthcare providers. Any system that will include patient data must be in compliance with HIPAA regulations. In many cases, it will also be necessary for the provider to be willing to enter into a Business Associate Agreement.
Dig into the Details
Even if you are convinced that a particular technology is going to be a good fit for your practice, don’t make a final decision until you dig into the details. You need to understand:
- Who will be responsible for each aspect of the implementation?
- How will your staff be trained and supported?
- What are the initial and ongoing fees?
- Is a long term agreement required?
- How are product updates handled?
Only when you are satisfied with the answers to these questions should you make a final decision.
Technology is becoming a bigger part of the practice of medicine every single day. Outfitting your practice with the best tools available is wise. If you keep these tips in mind, the selection experience should be engaging and you should be confident that you’ve made the right choice.