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Mike Uretz is a nationally-recognized Dental software and Electronic Health Records (EHR) expert. Mike has helped hundreds of individual practices and multi-clinic groups properly evaluate and select software vendors and solutions, structure and negotiate pricing and contracts, provide implementation oversight and vendor management. Mike was a member of the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology EHR vendor certification workgroup, and has been a member of various federal and state working committees for EHR business practices and policy. Having been involved with the EHR Incentive program from day one, Mike has helped a number of states, to evaluate and select EHR vendors, structure contracts and agreements, and manage vendor issues. As co-chairman of the Best practices advisory committee for EHR Contracts, Mike has been instrumental in developing standards for structuring vendor contracts and pricing for use by state programs nationwide He is the founder and editorial director of DentalSoftwareAdvisor.com, a trusted and objective online resource on all matters related to dental software. He is also the point person for Advanstar’s coverage of dental EHRs and their evolving role in the dental industry and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Navigating the numerous EHR software options can be tricky - and selecting the correct software for your practice can be even trickier. Here are three common mistakes to avoid in your search for the best EHR software.
Not taking control of your product evaluation
Over the years, I have seen too many practices that just rely on their EHR salespeople to "sell" them their products. By this I mean that in order to be successful in evaluating and selecting an EHR, a practice must take control of the process and not just passively sit back and let the salespeople do their thing.
Vendor salespeople are very adept at showing you what they want you to see in highlighting factors that they want to look at, rather than being answerable for your demands during the sales process. I have written about the idea of the "inmates running the asylum" where I point out that, especially during demonstrations, salespeople seem to be in charge, which does you a disservice.
You must turn that model around and know what you're looking for and how to ask for it. In the hundreds of demos I've sat in with client practices over the years, the best ones were the scenarios in which the practices spent time ahead of the demos deciding what type of workflow scenarios they wanted to see, and throwing in some out-of-the-box or difficult questions for good measure. It is too easy to just talk to colleagues or have numerous wasted visits by the vendor hoping that your decision will become evident. There is no magic eight ball that will lead you to the right product decision when it comes to EHRs.
It takes a lot of hard work and upfront team effort consisting of developing requirements for your team, asking numerous questions of your vendor and making sure that you are in control of your vendor demonstrations – not the other way around.
Not questioning your vendor’s contracts and agreements
In the 14 years I have been working with practices helping them select practice management and EHR systems and negotiate their contracts, I am constantly amazed at how many don't initially see the long-term importance of what's in the fine print on their contracts until I point it out to them. This is especially prevalent with smaller practices that just don't seem to take the time or maybe don't have the skepticism of the vendor that some of their larger counterparts do. The agreements you sign now are the rules of the road for years to come.
The vendors are obviously looking at their own interests and count on the fact that the practices won't question many of the one-sided sections they have in their contracts. I wish I had a nickel for every time over the last 14 years when I've questioned sections in vendor contracts and the vendor has declared "nobody has ever asked me about that before." But yet when I push them on it, they seem to have the change I am requesting available in their back pocket. Bottom line is that just because you seem to have a good EHR and trustworthy vendor along with a good price doesn't necessarily mean that you have a fair contract.
Not holding your vendor accountable during implementation
Why do so many EHR implementations fail? You believe that you have partnered with a great vendor. You have purchased the best EHR for your practice. Your staff is motivated to make this a success. So, what's the problem? Too many practices assume just because they are footing the bill for the implementation that the vendor will install everything in a timely basis, make sure works as you expected, and ride off into the sunset just like that masked man.
In reality your EHR vendor typically has many balls in the air and you’re just one of them. If you’ve ever heard that cliché about the "squeaky wheel," it is never more appropriate than when making sure you hold your vendor accountable during implementation. When there is a perception that things aren't getting done as you expected, don't wait until it builds into a crisis. Talk to your vendor about issues on a regular basis.
It is extremely important to have regular status meetings and very open communication with your vendor. If there is truly a partnership in the implementation and you aren't shy about holding your vendor accountable for their commitments then you should have a successful implementation.