In my last column (ENT Today, August 2011), I explained some of the broader issues regarding electronic medical records/electronic health records (EMR/EHR) selection, centered around the understanding that an EMR is a record that is more practice centered while an EHR is a health record intended to follow the patient through multiple providers. This article is directed toward practices with a large degree of autonomy in selecting their products; therefore, we will be discussing EMRs. If you’re part of a multidisciplinary practice or a university, you likely had little to no input regarding the EHR chosen. This is because larger numbers like primary care drive EHR selection. Don’t stop reading, however; assessment of disease-specific pathways is still applicable for the EHR you have.
Explore this issue:October 2011
The key to finding the right EMR is to make the most out of your meetings with vendors. Here’s how:
Do your research. First, assess your needs and determine what you can afford. Start by looking at EMRs that show at the American Academy of Otolaryngology Annual Meeting. These vendors are interested enough to develop content for otolaryngology. If you can’t make it to the meeting, go to vendor websites.
Delegate wisely. A practice manager could save you time by researching and setting up meetings with various EMR vendors. You and your fellow physicians need to attend the meetings. The practice manager will not be using the EMR; you will be. You need to assess the program in person to know whether it will meet your needs.
Review the company’s certification. The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology has been in the business the longest and does a good job of assessing data flow and integrity between modules, which is currently outside the scope of certification. Don’t take a vendor’s word for it. Check them out by going to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s website (http://onc-chpl.force.com). Once on the site, choose “Ambulatory Practice Type.” Look up the EMR and assess the criteria and quality measures they possess.
See it firsthand. Ask vendors to show you an encounter of your choosing, from beginning to end, with any emphasis on time-saving tools and how they would recommend using physician extenders. Hold your questions to give them a chance to give you the big picture. Work on understanding how they would work their way through the encounter. Pay particular attention to how the history of present illness is laid out. Here are questions to ask: