Medical groups today are taking advantage of financial incentives and the promise of increased efficiency and accuracy in their practices by making the switch to electronic medical records. The decision to improve is not nearly as daunting a task as deciding whom you will partner with to make it happen – I’m talking about choosing your EMR vendor.
You’ve probably heard stories involving EMR implementation failure that have made your stomach turn and your feet cold. You want to partner with an honest, certified EMR vendor with a software system that suits your practice’s needs and meets universal guidelines that qualify you for financial incentives for its implementation and use. The problem is bad EMR vendors know how to act like good ones; wolves in sheep’s clothing, if you will. Luckily, there are things a good vendor would never say or do – “signs” you are working with a bad EMR vendor.
If you hear or see the following from your vendor, run.
1. When you ask your vendor what their system does to address a current issue you have, they say, “It’s in the next version.”
I encourage you to take promises with a grain of salt the size of Gibraltar as some vendors will say anything to get your signature on a dotted line. Check into the vendor’s history of meeting such promises with other clients. Assume it will take your vendor significantly longer than they estimate to deliver functionality, and make sure all stipulations are outlined in the contract.
2. The vendor doesn’t have a specialty, or claims to work with all specialties.
In this case, the odds are they don’t have any specialty-specific templates, so either you’ll have to reinvent the wheel or pay them to reinvent the wheel.
Think of it this way: do you think a dermatologist is qualified to perform surgery on your brain? Well, I don’t think an EMR vendor who has worked with dentists only is suited to understand and predict the intricacies required of a hospital’s EMR and understand whether their software suits your practice.
You could say I’m partial to the thinking of Albert Einstein, who once said, “The only source of knowledge is experience.”
3. Our system has very reasonable hardware requirements.
If you ask for specifics and this is the answer you get, walk away. The odds are this vendor knows your current technology and hardware are not sufficient to run their software and instead of scaring you away with additional costs you didn’t budget, plans to spring them on you once they’ve locked you into a contract.
4. It’s just as efficient for remote users as on-site users.
No it isn’t, but it would sound good to you if you weren’t tech savvy. The deal is, it takes more time for packets to go round trip from inside the building to outside the building and you’ve got no way of controlling that. This is no dig on remote access and use; many practices need remote access because doctors/nurses can’t finish charting during the day and find themselves wrapping things up from home.
5. We meet all the third stage of the meaningful use requirements.
What they would be referring to is the third and final stage of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR/EMR Incentive Program, which outlines requirements that must be met for you to receive financial incentives for “meaningfully using” your certified EMR technology. The problem is, no one – not even those participating in the committees that are defining the requirements – knows yet what the final requirements will look like. So how can an EMR vendor?
If you have already locked yourself into a contract with what you feel is disreputable EMR vendor, your best bet is to seek legal advice. Whether you are able to get out of the contract depends heavily on how the contract was written, what was promised and what was delivered.
Bobby Kuzma is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional and president of Effortless IT, LLC in Lakeland. He specializes in engineering highly automated IT processes and operations to reduce downtime and improve technology responsiveness to business needs. Bobby is a frequent speaker to technical and lay audiences on topics such as regulatory compliance, privacy and security, computer forensics, the mobile workforce, and emerging business technologies. He also works with the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium to develop training materials. For more information call: 863-226-4079; or visit: www.effortlessit.com.
By Bobby Kuzma