A purpose-built Electronic Health Record (EHR) is a critical component for any behavioral health provider. But with so many different EHR systems available, finding the right provider for your agency can seem overwhelming.
Whether you are replacing an existing system, consolidating multiple disparate systems or purchasing an EHR for the first time, investing in a behavioral health EMR solution is one of the most important decisions your agency will make. As you navigate the waters of choosing an EHR system, it’s important to properly vet potential providers. In order to help you assess providers, we’ve put together this list of best practices to keep in mind when evaluating potential EHR providers for your organization:
Uncover additional fees.
Determine whether you must pay separately for features like ePrescribing, billing and coding libraries, automated appointment reminders, and other functionality included in the EMR. As you evaluate vendors, ask about what is included in the initial price of their software and what is an additional fee.
Inquire about implementation and training.
Find out whether the provider offers a dedicated team for EHR implementation. Successful implementation of a new EHR system requires a vendor to have a dedicated team ready to guide, advise, and support your every step of the way with: planning, configuration, go-live and post-launch optimization.
Also, be sure to ask about what their training looks like. Do they offer initial training? What about ongoing training for new employees or existing employees that may need a refresher?
Inquire about the background of the product’s creator and the expertise of current staff. If a general tech person created the EMR, you might get a system that requires you to conform your practice to inapplicable rules and best practices of using their EMR. If the CEO or the product creator has a background in behavioral health, you will get a system that more closely mirrors how an actual practice successfully operates.
Contact EMR providers’ references similar to your agency and ask them specific questions about how features and functionality work and what did not work as they expected. You want to learn how much support they needed and how quickly the behavioral health EMR provider resolved their problems.
Look for legal issues.
You can find EMR vendors with pending legal issues from behavioral health agencies online in public records. Make sure you dig around to find any information, old or new, that can give you a better picture of your EMR vendor.
You want to find an EMR provider who is passionate about the behavioral health industry. Does the vendor simply want to sell you software, or do they care about providing your organization a great solution? Their passion, or lack of, speaks volumes about the caliber of the partner who will work closely with your agency for years to come.
Ask about staff.
Ask other useful questions such as how many people they have on staff and what their credentials are. Finding out about the background of the EMR provider you are partnering with will provide insight into how they run their operation. Also, you do not want an EMR provider who only has a few staff to support your behavioral health organization when something goes wrong. You want them to have a full and experienced staff ready to help.
At the end of the day, adoption of an EHR system should make your job easier by making data accessible, delivering intuitive functionality, and ensuring your agency is in compliance with state regulations. Once those obstacles are removed, you and your agency can focus your efforts on providing remarkable care for patients who need it most.