Breaking up with your partner in crime—er, EMR—around the holidays can instill in you feelings of loneliness, anger, and doubt as you look ahead to the new year. But like any broken relationship, there’s no use in justifying to yourself—and others—why things might turn around for the better. After all, you know your EMR’s general lack of support—she blamed you for workflow inefficiencies—is something that can’t be fixed overnight. With the new year fast approaching, sometimes change is needed—or, in some cases, required—so “get out there” and search for a better, more compatible match. But, first things first: before you shop around, you’ve got to determine what you’re looking for in a new partner. If you’re having some difficulty, here are four ideas to keep in mind when searching for the ideal EMR.
Do away with contracts.
If your current EMR required you to sign a contract, there could be penalties associated with going your separate ways. Make sure you read the fine print so you know exactly what you’re entitled to and what cancellation consequences you may face. Customer-centric EMRs should work through contract details with your practice to ensure your patient records remain accessible during any negotiations. And honestly, the ideal EMR shouldn’t even require a contract in the first place. In business or in love, you should have the freedom to get up and leave when things aren’t working out.
Ensure a smooth transition period.
Transitioning to anything new is never easy, and both parties will need a chance to feel each other out to ensure there’s a good match. Now, relationships are—and should be—personal, but when it comes to enlisting a new EMR partner, it’s critical that you gain buy-in from all key players, from executives and leadership to fellow rehab therapists and front-office staff. “Do your due diligence when selecting a system and ensure that the vendor and product will be around for the long term,” said Amit Trivedi, health care program manager at ICSA Labs. “Learn about the company’s history, current state, and future plans. Make sure the software you select will work for your practice and that your vendor is a partner and is focused on your success.”
Move in with your stuff—er, data.
Moving from one system to another—and, thus, making your new EMR a home—involves the transfer of important patient data. That’s quite the undertaking, as not all data is created equal—and using a one-size-fits-all approach to transfer your practice’s information isn’t always possible. So, if an EMR won’t work with you to migrate crucial data, then don’t waste your time on it. Instead, make sure your new relationship starts off on the right foot: switch to an EMR that’s committed to helping you transfer your data; will keep that data secure; and will use it to help you improve clinical and business performance.
Look at the bigger picture.
Healthcare IT is rapidly evolving—and rehab therapy clinics must keep up to retain and grow their market share. In fact, the healthcare IT industry as a whole is “following an evolutionary path to the cloud—and it’s becoming obvious that keeping up with the changes is a massive task, with plenty of more challenges to come.” Now, the path to get there could be arduous. But once you reach your destination, it should all be worthwhile. That’s because the best EMRs offer tons of benefits designed to make your life easier, including:
- Built-in scheduling tools that provide automatic appointment reminders
- Defensible and secure documentation to ensure compliance with insurance regulations—especially those associated with Medicare
- Comprehensive business intelligence and reporting tools to monitor metrics and ensure compliance with reporting requirements (mandatory or otherwise)
- Integrated billing capabilities to help you save time, reduce claim errors, and—most importantly—maximize revenue.
- Built-in outcomes tracking, so you can collect patient data and prove the value of your therapists and your clinic as a whole.
Bad fits—in business and in relationships—are called mismatches for a reason. So, if you’re in the market for a new EMR, don’t try to fit a square object into a round hole, so to speak. And if you’re currently suffering the consequences of a toxic system that’s stifling your growth—not to mention testing your sanity—then recognize that it’s probably time for a change. You deserve better, and even though things might be a little rocky in the short-term, the long-term benefits of a lasting partnership will more than make up for the pain of letting go.