Questions to Ask When You Are Planning on Switching Your EHR System

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Many practices may be feeling unfulfilled with their current EHR system, when planning for a switch it is important to identify how the new EHR will affect your workflow.

Time to Switch?

Selecting an EHR system is a critical decision and a significant planning task. There are different opinions regarding when the selection of an EHR system should be made in the planning phase. Some practices go through the planning process and develop the selection criteria they wish to use. Other practices begin by selecting an EHR system and then conduct planning to support the selected EHR system. Most practices develop an initial plan to identify their key goals, select an EHR system that supports these goals, and then finalize their plan after the selection.

After establishing the practice’s objective(s) and planning how EHRs will affect workflows, the leadership team and staff can determine what to look for when considering and selecting an EHR system. The following are several considerations for EHR software comparison that the Regional Extension Centers (RECs) have found useful over the past several months:

  • Understand if and how a vendor’s product will accomplish the key goals of the practice. Essentially, a test drive of  your specific needs with the vendor’s product. Provide the vendor with patient and office scenarios that they may use to customize their product demonstration
  • Clarify start-up pricing before selecting an EHR system (hardware, software, maintenance and upgrade costs, option of phased payments, interfaces for labs and pharmacies, cost to connect to health information exchange (HIE), customized quality reports)
  • Define implementation support (amount, schedule, information on trainer(s) such as their communication efficiency and experience with product and company)
  • Clarify roles, responsibilities, and costs for data migration strategy if desired. Sometimes, being selective with which data or how much data to migrate can influence the ease of transition
  • Server options (e.g., client server, application service provider (ASP), software as a service (SAS))
  • Ability to integrate with other products (e.g., practice management software, billing systems, and public health interfaces)
  • Privacy and security capabilities and back-up planning
  • Linking payments and EHR incentive rewards to implementation milestones and performance goals
  • Vendor’s stability and/or market presence in region
  • Cost to connect to HIE
  • Consider costs of using legal counsel for contract review verses open sources through medical associations


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