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5 Tips for Selecting the Ideal EHR for Your New Medical Practice

Opening a new medical practice is a multistep, labor- and cost-intensive process—and although there’s no universal formula, one step is essential for all new practices: choosing the right electronic health record (EHR) system to suit your practice’s unique needs. That’s because the right EHR system can provide a wide range of time-saving tools for both clinicians and staff.

For instance, an EHR can save your practice time by offering:

  • Predefined templates for everyday tasks such as charting and ordering lab work
  • The ability to connect with local laboratories and imaging centers, allowing providers to place medical orders electronically—a process that is both more efficient and more accurate than placing orders manually
  • A HIPAA-compliant patient portal that enables rapid communication with patients about test results, laboratory records, and more, improving patient engagement while simultaneously reducing the number of phone calls required by staff
  • Fully integrated billing services to help you manage billing and credentialing to get paid what you’re owed, faster

These and other time-saving tools may improve practice efficiency and reduce the administrative burden for both clinicians and staff. They may also help improve accuracy. For instance, electronic ordering can reduce errors and improve patient safety.

You want an EHR that will not only fulfill these crucial functions but will do so while being intuitive and easy to use without requiring advanced training or technical expertise. These 5 tips will help you identify your top priorities for an EHR system and select the one that best meets your practice’s unique needs.

#1. Look for an EHR system designed with the user in mind.

When choosing an EHR system for your practice, you want one whose overall design is simple, intuitive, and easy to use, making it accessible to all practice members. The EHR should enable you to accomplish desired tasks easily and efficiently. It should be customizable, allowing you to tailor specific tasks to fit your workflow and maximize the system’s efficiency and usability.

Better EHR usability leads to a better work-life balance and can also lead to better patient care. This means that a vendor who interacts with users to learn their needs and identify any problem points can create a better product for you and your patients.

#2. Consider whether the EHR meets both your current and future needs.

The healthcare industry is constantly changing. There are changing guidelines from Medicare, Medicaid, and other payers; changing incentive programs; and changing federal rules and regulations. There are also rapidly evolving healthcare technologies, from data analysis to healthcare trackers, wearables, and sensors. It’s critical to work with an EHR vendor who can keep abreast of this constantly changing environment so they can keep their EHR updated with the most current information, guidelines, and regulations, as well as the constant improvements seen in the technological environment.

Working with an EHR vendor with an established model for collecting customer feedback, designing changes to meet customers’ evolving needs, and incorporating those changes seamlessly into the product is also critical. Your vendor needs to be prepared to make regular product improvements in response to industry changes and customer requests—without requiring further investment from the customer.

Some key features you may want from your EHR include:

  • Predefined templates for common tasks
  • Ability to connect with local laboratories and imaging centers
  • Integrated, HIPAA-compliant patient portal
  • e-Prescribing functionality, including Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances (EPCS)
  • ePrior Authorization
  • Ability to track and report data for quality initiatives such as the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)
  • Fully integrated billing services with a team of experienced billing experts

#3. Evaluate both the health IT vendor and the EHR system.

Although it’s important to evaluate an EHR system before making your choice, the EHR itself is not your only priority: You also need to evaluate the health IT vendor providing it. Will this vendor support both your practice and your patients? Will they meet your needs, both now and in the future?

It’s essential to watch for vendors who may have difficulty keeping up with the rate of change—in technology, regulations, and the needs of your practice and patients. The healthcare industry is constantly changing—changing available treatments, available technology, governing regulations, and more. This means that your and your patients’ needs are also continually evolving. It’s essential to find a health IT vendor who prioritizes making product improvements in response to industry changes and customer needs.

You should select a vendor with a predefined method for creating and implementing updates and improvements to the EHR. Additionally, installing these improvements and updates should be a part of the ongoing process of maintaining the EHR system, not something that incurs separate charges.

#4. Check out the quality of support supplied by the health IT vendor.

It’s essential to find a vendor that provides customer service that is:

When setting up a new EHR system, customer service needs to be with you every step of the way. They need to be ready to assist you as you see new patients, ready to help you integrate with other services, ready to help you begin participating in value-based reimbursement programs such as MIPS, and more. The vendor must also provide accessible, on-demand educational resources to ensure you and your staff get the most out of your EHR.

#5. Confirm that the EHR system is certified.

Qualification for participation in certain CMS incentive programs, such as MIPS, requires certified EHR technology (CEHRT). For clinicians to avoid a downward payment adjustment, eligible providers must use an EHR system that is certified to the 2015 Edition certification criteria or the 2015 Edition Cures Update criteria to meet the CEHRT definition.

Not all EHRs are certified. Providers can verify whether a particular EHR system is certified by checking at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s (ONC) website.

Introducing Practice Fusion

As you consider prospective EHR systems, we hope you will evaluate Practice Fusion, a trusted EHR system for new independent practices. We designed Practice Fusion specifically with the needs of small independent practices in mind.

Along with an easy-to-use EHR, Practice Fusion also offers full services, fully integrated billing services and credentialing. With Practice Fusion Billing Services, we can help you:

  • Get paid what you’re owed, faster
  • Get claims submitted clean the first time
  • Operate more efficiently while receiving transparency into your financial performance

Let our experts, with more than 30 years of experience, manage your billing and credentialing, so you can focus on what matters most – your patients.

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