Replacing your EHR system can seem like a major headache. The time, the training, the cost. According to Healthcare IT News, as many as 23% of EHR users have considered changing systems. Chances are, if you’ve thought about switching your EHR system, there may be good reason to seriously consider it. So, how do you know it’s time to replace your EHR system? What are the key signals you should be looking out for? Here’s a list:
1. Your EHR Workflow is Inflexible
EHR workflow is a critical issue, one that many providers failed to consider when purchasing their initial system. Paper-based workflow was flexible. If something felt forced or out of sequence, the administrator made a quick change and the staff automatically adjusted.
EHR platforms take more work and impacts the efficiency adversely, especially when the workflow is off. When providers are unhappy with the ability of their EHR System to adapt to the workflow requirements of their clinic, it is time to look for an EHR replacement whose workflow is flexible and better suited to the needs of the practice.
2. Your EHR Is Unable To Grow With You
When the practice grows, the current EHR system may not be able to grow with it. Opening up new locations, taking on specialists or networking with a partner facility – these are all goals that improve the stability of the medical practice. It is critical to implement an EMR system that is able to expand as the practice does or to find a replacement that meets the challenge.
This is the “it’s not you, it’s me” of EHR breakups. You can’t force compatibility. Sometimes, no matter how much you alter your workflow, no matter how well you train your staff, an EHR just won’t be right for your needs. That’s ok! Before you begin courting other EHR vendors, sit down with your team and make a very clear list of your needs and wants. Go into the search process knowing exactly what your old EHR lacked, and formulate workflow-specific questions so your practice staff isn’t surprised down the line. You can always learn from a situation like this, so embrace it, and find your EHR soulmate.
3. You Are Dissatisfied With Your EHR Vendor
An EHR system is only as good as the vendor that supports it. Poor customer service means the end users have to find ways to compensate. Physicians Practice calls this a common complaint for providers. EHR is a competitive industry. Instead of continuing to live with circumstances that create frustration instead of solutions, find an EHR vendor that puts the needs of their customers first.
4. You Keep Getting New Bills For Hidden Expenses
Some companies lower the initial purchase cost of the program, but make up for it by layering hidden fees, especially for upgrades and every additional feature that you may require. If the vendor is introducing new fees to maintain the system or provide new features mandated by changing laws, it can cost you much more to continue using that software than to find a replacement. It is clearly time to dump your current EHR Vendor and find an replacement EHR.
After implementation, your EHR still has costs and fees. Do those costs seem to change by the month? Is it hard to tell exactly what you’re being billed for? Consider the monthly cost of your EHR, and whether you’re getting the best bang for your buck. If your EHR cost seems to fluctuate for no reason, or if new features come with a heavy price tag, take a step back. Though costly at first, switching to a whole new EHR system may be the best financial choice in the long run.
5. Your EHR Software Is Stagnating
The vendor should consistently be improving upon the system. That means adding practical features and providing cost effective upgrades to improve functionality. If the EHR program stagnates, it might be necessary to replace it with a software package that offers more growth potential or makes the life of your staff easier and better.
To keep up with the rest of the health tech industry, your EHR should be updated frequently–and we don’t just mean once a year. This goes hand-in-hand with your troubleshooting experience. If your EHR feels rooted firmly in the pre-Internet era or simply doesn’t provide updates that help your practice grow, it may be time to say goodbye.
6. You Face Technical Problems Consistently
Anything from difficulty integrating with Health Information Exchanges to inability to shift from ICD-9 to ICD-10, technical setbacks interfere with a smooth running office. When every other day brings a new technical challenge, find a replacement option that creates stability instead of chaos. If you find yourself explaining to staff “Oh, that’s just a glitch–work around it,” then it may be time to jump ship. There’s no reason for problems in your EHR to go unfixed for a long time. Don’t put up with a company that refuses to fix system errors.
7. Improving Productivity Is A Dream
If the system is just taking up too much of the staff’s time, it creates an inefficient work environment. The purpose of an electronic records platform is to improve productivity, not hinder it. If the software is interfering with treating patients now, it will only get worse with the new health reforms. A replacement system is a practical choice.
EHR software should improve the care process, add data analytics options and enhance patient engagement. If that is not what your current system brings to the table, then it is time to consider replacement options.
Training periods aside, your EHR should feel intuitive and accessible. If you constantly feel your EHR is an extra burden that doesn’t increase productivity for your practice, it’s time to reconsider. The benefits of using an EHR should be plentiful and obvious. When your EHR just feels like a hassle, it isn’t doing its job.
When in doubt? Hire an EHR Consultant who knows the ins and outs of the industry.