EHR Vendor Selection: The 5-Step Guide
From HIMSS NEWS:
EHR vendor selection can be a complex and time-consuming task. Choosing the right EHR system is an important decision, which should be planned in advance. This guide has been created to save time researching vendor selection by providing resources to begin the search for an EHR.
Step 1: EHR Planning
- Decide between Application Service Provider (ASP) module and locally hosted EHR solution.
- Locally hosted EHR solutions are purchased through licensing agreements and generally stored in-house hardware and servers.
- ASP (SaaS or cloud modules hosted via the internet) are generally cheaper compared to the locally hosted module, which may require purchasing new hardware.
- Set a migration path for the EHR, useful for organizations that want to illustrate the overview of the EHR and how the EHR system will be developed.
Step 2: Set Goals That Can Be Achievable Through EHR Benefits
- Review the organization’s current goals and objectives to determine the EHR benefits to be achieved. The organization’s vision of the EHR must be articulated and strategically planned.
- Outline the scope and functional needs to achieve anticipated benefits from the EHR. Every organization is different and has different functional specifications (laboratory, e-prescribing or imaging capabilities)
- Review the practice’s key workflows. How does your practice currently create and maintain documentation within the medical record? Does the software work with your practice management system? The American Medical Association has a helpful resource on this topic: “15 questions to ask before signing an EMR/EHR agreement.”
- Create a matrix to compare EHR functions to benefits. A matrix is useful for vendor evaluation as it helps prioritize key functionalities and guides the decision making process.
Step 3: Compare EHR Vendor Products
- “Best-fit” vs. “Best-of-breed” EHR software
- “Best-fit” refers to a single EHR product providing a comprehensive integrated solution (practice management system and documentation available through one type of software).
- “Best-of-breed” refers to products selected from various vendors, which may not be interoperable with other software (separate software solutions for the operational and administrative functions).
- Research the EHR
- Is the software ONC-ATCB Certified? ONC-certified EHR technology has the capabilities necessary to support objectives of meaningful use and qualifies providers for incentives under the HITECH Act. Be sure to check the product version number and certification expiration. There are currently over 500 certified products; browse the ONC database to find more details about product capabilities.
- KLAS Research (provides reviews and reports on vendors)
- Black Book Rankings (market research firm ranks the top EHR vendors)
- Create a shortlist of 2-5 vendors with possible fits to the practice’s criteria.
Step 4: Request for Proposal
- Develop a written RFP based upon the requirements.
- Send the RFP to selected vendors asking them to provide an EHR proposal.
- Evaluate proposals by EHR functionality to meet organizational needs.
Step 5: Vendor Selection and Contract Negotiation
- Request a demo of the top 2-5 EHR vendors. If possible, request a usability test with test scenarios (i.e. “35-year-old Caucasian female with history of diabetes and hypertension).
- Make the final decision.
- Contract negotiation should include all details related to the services required, including any ongoing maintenance.