August 28, 2018 | By: Babar Nawaz

4 Things to Consider When Evaluating Electronic Health Records Software

Electronic health records (EHR) software has penetrated the healthcare settings of all types of organizations, including long-term care and LTPAC (long-term and post-acute care). Long-term care facilities were not part of the plan under which the federal government in the United States provided financial incentives for hospitals and doctors’ offices to start using EHRs. As a result of those incentives, the adoption rates of EHRs have skyrocketed in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and nursing homes.

Since the long-term care facilities did not get any financial incentives, the adoption rate of EHRs is lower. But that is not to say that things aren’t changing.

Long-term care facilities of all sizes, from small 1-5 beds to larger ones with thousands of beds, are looking at EHR systems to better manage their patient documentation and be more productive.

EHR software systems help cut down on paper records and many arduous manual tasks, but a more profound change in the overall healthcare IT is the new focus on the entire continuum of care. The continuum of care focuses on how a patient receive care as they change hands among different healthcare settings and providers such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, therapy/rehab, and long-term care.

In this kind of scenario, it becomes imperative that long-term care facilities should look for an EHR system that helps them not only manage their patients’ data effectively but also share that data with other facilities whenever necessary.

But not all electronic health records software is created equal. Some electronic health records are difficult to work with, create information silos, or drain your budget. To ensure that your facility gets the functionality it needs without any extra burdens, consider these four factors when evaluating new EHR systems.

1. Usability

Pick an easy-to-use system. It will lower the cost of ownership, will be easier for your staff to work with, and decrease the amount of time you need to spend on training your staff. A user-friendly system will also make it faster and easier to onboard new employees as your facility grows.

2. Customizability

Customizability is all about how well an electronic health record system works with your facility and its processes. Does it conform to your workflow? Use the same terminology as you? The same forms? If it doesn’t, how willing is your software vendor to work with you to make enhancements to the system and incorporate changes? The best EHR systems and providers will go out of their way to fit into your facility and integrate with your processes.

3. Interoperability

Electronic health records software is a powerful tool, but it isn’t the only system your facility and your staff will interact with. You’ll also be dealing with pharmacies, hospitals, and other organizations. How well will your EHR software work with those different systems? To help you understand how much interoperability your electronic health records software provides, ask these three questions:

  • How many different types of vendors does it integrate with?
  • Does it have open APIs?
  • Does it integrate with other EHR systems/competitors, or Health Information Exchanges (HIE)?

Use interoperability questions to help you find a great EHR software company to work with you. The best companies don’t close off their software. They don’t don’t create information silos, don’t hinder data sharing, and are willing to work with others to share patient data and ensure continuity of care.

4. Cost

Cost shouldn’t be the deciding factor or the only factor when you’re evaluating new electronic health record software, but it will play a role in which system you choose.

When reviewing cost, make sure you understand the cost structure, such as SaaS vs. licensed software, as well as the initial and ongoing costs for things such as training and technical support. With the commoditization of IT, some of these costs have increased for software vendors, so top vendors have designed creative ways to continue to educate users while keeping costs down. Recorded training sessions and group or webinar style training are two examples of low-cost, efficient training methods that EHR software providers offer.

Choose User-Friendly, Cost-Effective Electronic Health Records Software

The best electronic health record systems make life easier for your staff and help them provide better care for residents. Look for a system that’s easy for your staff to use, regardless of how tech-savvy they are. Such a system shouldn’t be expensive. There are plenty of options that charge a reasonable fee per individual in your care.

The best EHR software companies will make it easy for you to see just how much they cost, offering up-front pricing on their website. But if you have questions, or want to know more about usability and the look and feel of the system, consider requesting a demo for any system you’re interested in. A demo will help you tour different EHR software features and see just how well a the system will fit your organization.

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