Purchasing a new EHR and Practice Management system is a very big deal. Not only is there a large amount of money invested, but the investment in time to integrate the product into an office’s workflow should not be underestimated. Buying a product that doesn't fit the needs of your office will cause a great deal of stress and frustration down the road. The product will be an integral part of day-to-day operation and utilized more than any other single product in your office. It is imperative to understand the product that you are purchasing and ensure it will meet the unique requirements of your office BEFORE investing the time and money in an implementation.
Request a Demo
Never, EVER buy a product without looking at it first. Even if a colleague has given a glowing recommendation, make sure to see the product in person to verify that it will indeed suit YOUR needs.
Involve the Entire Staff
Make sure that your entire staff sees the product before making a decision. Now, some people just don’t like change, and this should be taken into account when weighing their opinions, but other times there are serious causes for concerns by staff members when it comes to executing their job through the system. Some systems are a conglomeration of separate products where quality varies significantly from module to module – the EHR may work well but the Practice Management may be abysmal. Allowing the entire staff to weigh in will provide a better picture of the product as a whole when it comes to your office.
Don’t Get Distracted by "Bells and Whistles"
Bells and whistles are great but don’t get distracted by them. Pay close attention to the core features of the product that you will be using on a day-to-day basis. If those core features aren’t usable or are very inefficient, the bells and whistles are going to do very little to salvage your overall satisfaction with the product.
Talk to Real Customers
Demos can be great but remember that a demo is a sandbox of the best possible situations to highlight the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of a product. Having a trial demonstration version to play with on your own time can be helpful, but can also be frustrating since there has been no formal training on the product. The best way to truly get a feel for how a product works in the real world is seeing it in use by a real customer. Don’t just talk to a customer though – visit a customer site. Some customers may be satisfied with the product and rave about it because they have little experience with other products on the market. Seeing how a customer utilizes a product in the real world will give you better insight into a product’s strengths and weaknesses.
Understand You Are Entering Into A Relationship With The Vendor
Other products may be so called "fire-and-forget" but EHR/Practice Management software WILL require support from the vendor at some point. Therefore, you need to consider the relationship from the very first encounter with the company. Are you comfortable with the people you've dealt with so far? Have you met or talked to any of the support staff that will be helping you after your purchase? A product that seems great can be ruined by a callous or incompetent support staff causing your experience to be less than stellar. Pay attention to the vendor’s attitude and actions every step of the way in your process. The vendor should be attentive and proactive, ensuring that your questions are addressed without making you feel like a burden or just another source of a quick sale.