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Viewpoint

This EHR breakup caused no tears

FROM THE CHIEF MEDICAL EDITOR

But help to get a new EHR? No Match.com exists.

You’ve been together now for several years. The road has been rocky. You’ve tried to make it work, but there’s no denying the obvious: It’s time to end the relationship.

No, I’m not talking about you and your spouse! I’m talking about you and your EHR, or electronic health records. While some of you have yet to take the plunge, most us are in the deep end of the pool, still learning how to swim. Many of us aren’t necessarily happy, let alone resigned, to dealing day to day with this technical, often time-sucking morass.

Why the unhappiness? For some of us it’s a bit too much “fee creep”. For others, they are tired of waiting forever for customer support to respond and/or fix the latest problem. Perhaps it’s the last update that made things worse, or there have been almost no updates and the program is essentially unchanged since its purchase and now seems antiquated.

My own practice had many of these problems — and more. We concluded it was time for a breakup. But there would be no mourning period, we needed to immediately transition to a new partner! I could never go back to paper at this point. But how to go about finding a new system? We knew one thing: We were ready to switch from a server-based system to the cloud.

THE INVESTIGATION

The market has improved and matured a lot in the last 10 years. There are now several capable companies out there that have good products with many new innovations. We talked with doctor friends who liked their systems, and we talked with the companies to get their pitch, but followed up with two very important task questions, and I will share these with you. First, ask the company for a list of practices similar to yours and pick two to call. Speak to the administrator, speak to a doctor. Second, and this is crucial, get a key doctor and one or two key staff to visit one or two practices, spending the day shadowing the doctors and staff to see how it really flows.

We had narrowed it down to software systems A and B. When we visited the practice using A, staff were very happy with it, but we walked away with a feeling that it wasn’t any more efficient than our current system. But at practice B, we saw a huge difference. Bonus: this practice had transitioned from the same system we were leaving, so the comparison was real.

We started live with system B the first week in September. How has it gone? That’s a question with an interesting answer, and we’ll respond in next month’s Viewpoint. As for the names of systems A and B? Sorry, friends, you’ll have to figure those out for yourself. OM