Problem with EMR Selection Process

Posted on August 11, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I read a number of online forums and blogs about EMR. Most of the time I’m amazed at all the smart people that are participating in the discussion of EMR. However, occasionally I come across comments that just make me cringe. Here’s one of those comments about the EMR selection process:

Key factors to consider are cost of licensing; maintenance and any other cost of ownership fees; types of service level agreements (SLAs); redundancy/mirror imaging (ability to minimize downtime or restore system in minimal time or an alternative process for business continuity); types of technical environment/architecture required; security and access points; implementation costs (avoid customization or keep them to a minimum whenever possible); maintenance costs for customizations, which vendors sometimes treat as a separate cost; cycle for upgrades/fixpacks/major version releases and support; training development and delivery; and optimization to ensure the system is being used as effectively, productively, and efficiently as possible throughout its life cycle. Hopefully, there will be some standardization of key features to ensure ease of usability in the near future.

Are those the key factors that should be considered in selecting an EMR in your book? Not that a number of the items aren’t important. However, most of that list doctors I know don’t care about and quite frankly they shouldn’t. I think most doctors look at the selection in this way: cost/ROI, usability, and let some tech person deal with all the technical details. I think that many have a challenge measuring these, but at the end of the day the ROI and usability of the software is all they really care about. Is that such a bad thing?

What’s interesting about the above statement is that the following statement preceded it:

I would recommend that physicians invest in a reputable and health care industry focused consultant or consulting firm to help in the vendor selection process to determine which system best fits their needs.

I can’t argue with this advice. However, the list of EMR selection “key factors” above makes me think that whoever made the list isn’t a “reputable” EMR selection consultant.