Selecting the Right EHR the First (or Second) Time Around

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By Allyson Westover

Whether you are a first-time adopter, or looking to change your current EHR system, Renal Business Today takes a look at the key components you should consider when making your electronic health record (EHR) vendor selection.

Dr. Rahul Rishi is excited. He recently finished helming the adoption of an EHR for his 16-physician nephrology practice. It’s been three months since the group went live on their first EHR system, and things are starting to click for the practice.

“I think we were all dreading going live,” Rishi said, expressing his group’s trepidation about the transition from paper to electronic records. “It’s a work in progress, but I would say that it’s been a positive experience overall.”

Such is the story for many nephrologists. As the EHR incentive deadline looms, many physicians are contemplating EHR adoption more seriously than in the past. Medicare eligible professionals (EPs) who do not demonstrate meaningful use (MU) in 2013—or by Oct. 1, 2014, if 2014 is your first year in the EHR incentive program—will face a 1 percent payment  adjustment in their Medicare reimbursement in 2015.

“Suddenly, meaningful use is becoming real for physicians,” said Courtney Mawhinney, director of sales and marketing for nephrology-focused EHR vendor Falcon EHR. “In the past few months, we’ve seen more and more providers who understand how imperative it is to adopt an EHR now in order to see the kind of care-related and financial return that they’re seeking.”

Rishi understands that selecting an EHR can seem daunting.

“It’s a big transition with a lot of hurdles,” he said. “You have to have focus and a game plan, but it can be done.”

As you begin your EHR search, nephrology experts recommend asking these questions of EHR vendors—and of your practice—to help ensure that you are making the right investment.

What features and benefits must the EHR have in order to work for us?

Engage with your partners and your staff to understand what they hope to gain by adopting a new system. Using this feedback, make a list of “must-haves” for your practice and stay focused on these priorities throughout the search process.

While different systems will offer different features and functionalities, concentrate on finding an EHR that excels in the areas that are most important to your group.

“We knew that having nephrology-based templates was very essential for us,” said Rishi, whose California-based practice conducted a six-month review of multiple EHR systems before making a selection. “We spent a long time talking to vendors because we wanted to understand the options. When the data was presented, we went with Falcon EHR because it was nephrology-specific.”

If having a nephrology-focused EHR is important to your practice, look for vendors that offer more than just rounding templates for nephrologists. MCP charge capture reports, clinical decision support rules for nephrology, dialysis registration, and connectivity to your local dialysis centers are all important components to consider.

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