If you are one of those "early adopters" who is already eyeing electronic health record software for your practice, here is a game plan that will help ensure you end up with a system that is an asset to your practice.
1. Invite vendors to demo their products. After you've narrowed the field to a few software products, ask to see demonstrations. You'll get a more realistic view of the software in the context of your practice, if you:
- Use your own clinical case studies. Ask sales representatives to demonstrate their software using your own clinical case studies, not a canned presentation.
- Evaluate intensively. Schedule all product demonstrations on the same day or over a two-day period for better side-by-side comparisons.
- Evaluate the product, not the person. Focus on the product; don't allow a salesperson's appearance, likeability, or proficiency with the software to cloud your judgment.
2. Test software the hands-on way. Ask the software vendors for a temporary username and password that allow you to log on their company's remote server with its software and sales demonstration database, and test the software by "playing" with it.
3. Install it right, right away. Once you've made your choice, don't cut corners at installation time. Physicians who invest the time to customize the templates, use the product intensively, and identify areas of concern will reap the rewards of their investment sooner.
4. Appoint an implementation wrangler. Assign or hire someone to oversee implementation. This person will serve as liaison among the vendor, staff, and physicians and handle problems as they arise until the new system is up and running smoothly.
5. Train your staff. Don't neglect to have formal training sessions for staff. Effective training involves either a classroom setting with computers or intensive on-site training sessions with follow-up sessions after a week or two.
To speak to TMA staff about Health Information Technology, call (800) 880-5720 or e-mail the TMA HIT Department.
Content reviewed: 06/21/10
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