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Sink or Swim After EMR Purchase

Posted on May 13, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and 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 find it really disturbing the number of stories I read about doctors who have purchased an EMR basically being left to ‘sink or swim’ once the EMR purchase and training process is complete. This is not always the case. Some EMR companies really take a vested interest in those who purchase their EMR software. That’s my biggest compliment of the EMR company I work with on a daily basis is that they really did care about us having a successful EMR implementation. I know a number of others who are just as vested in a clinic’s success.

Unfortunately, far too many EMR vendors don’t take a vested interest in a practice and after the purchase and initial training, the practice is basically left to finish the EHR implementation on their own. Let’s take a look at a common example of what happens:
-Clinic purchases EMR software
-Clinic spends a few days training on EMR software
-Clinic sends support request which goes unanswered
-Clinic gets answer to support request a week later

It should also be noted that the few days spent with the trainer is often untargeted and aptly described as a firehouse which mostly leaves those being trained with a huge migraine. Also, it’s worth mentioning that the clinic ends up floundering along for that week they waited to get their support request answered.

Certainly supporting a new EMR implementation is a significant challenge. Many popular EMR vendors have oversold and just don’t have the trained, skilled staff that are needed to support the number of clinics they’re bringing online. That’s not an excuse for the EMR vendor. They should still be held accountable. However, it’s helpful to understand the challenges an EMR vendor faces so you can possibly avoid them.

Like I said previously, not all EMR vendors have this challenge. This being the case, it highlights the need to talk to users of any EMR software you’re considering. Ask them about the type, speed and quality of the support they receive from the company as a current user and what support they received when implementing that EMR vendor. Also, try to talk to someone who recently implemented that EMR software. Much like a new mother forgets the pains of child birth, EMR implementation pains disappear from memory (see my previous post on EMR and Pregnancy). Plus, in most EMR companies the support and training changes over time as employees come and go. The more recent the support experience the better.

At the end of the day, an EHR implementation does require a determination to ‘sink or swim.’ However, it’s much easier to swim when you have someone throwing you a line along the way.

Killer EMR Features According to EMR Vendors

Posted on I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and 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 previously posted a request to hear about the “killer” EMR features that set an EMR vendor’s software apart from the other 400 EMR vendors out there. As expected, some of the people who sent me a message didn’t understand what I mean. However, a few of the responses we’re pretty interesting. I think we’ve barely scratched the surface on EMR features, so please keep submitting your best EMR feature on the contact us page.

Here’s a quick look at three of the responses from EMR vendors. I’ve added strikethroughs when it’s not a killer feature and my commentary is in italics.

First up is SRSSoft‘s killer EMR feature:
The SRS hybrid EMR is a killer EMR, with the prime killer feature being “speed.” Speed is built into the hybrid EMR throughout, and is delivered in three primary ways—click minimization, OpenPath™ technology, and robust messaging.Speed is a killer featuring and an EMR company focusing on speed and calculating clicks makes it a killer feature.

SRS conducts time-motion studies to minimize the number of clicks and the number of seconds it takes for physicians to accomplish their most frequent clinical tasks. For example, a prescription can be written and approved with 2 clicks, and an image can be viewed with only one click. Additionally, the SRS nonproprietary OpenPath™ technology foundation allows the seamless “plug-in” of other applications—physicians can access a myriad of programs containing patient information directly from within the patient chart, without having to waste time toggling back and forth between SRS and other applications.I would have liked to see a list of applications which are already integrated, but an API(Application Interface) in an EMR is a really cool feature.

Furthermore, SRS Messaging automatically attaches the complete patient chart to every message between staff members, which means that when key information is needed to make a quick clinical decision and respond to a message, the information is only one click away.One click access to the patient chart is nice. I wonder how many clicks it takes to tie the message to the chart in the first place.

Speed, Fewer Clicks and an API are definitely killer features of an EMR. I’d be interested to try SRSsoft to see if they can really deliver these features. Regardless, I wish every EMR company was as focused on the number of clicks and the speed of their application. said the following:
Simplicity – Built on the single most widly used small business software in the world (Microsoft Office), XLEMR is as simple as Outlook, Word, and Excel. It’s not uncommon for doc’s to sit down and start using XLEMR with no training…I’d like to see how well a doctor uses this EMR with no training. No doubt office is a familiar application to many. However, I’m surprised how often doctors need to be trained on simple things in Word like saving a file to a specific location. Assuming a doctor can sit down and use it with no training, that’s a killer EMR feature.

Inexpensive – XLEMR works on your old hardware and software you already own. There is no server or database to crash and maintain. There is no dependence on the internet. There is no annual maintenance agreement and because it’s Microsoft you can improve it yourself or hire your nephew…Some might argue that these are all reasons why you should not implement this EMR. For example, there’s some benefits to having a database that anyone can access anywhere you have internet (which is everywhere these days). Not to mention more reliable server hardware compared to desktop hardware. However, this could be a killer EMR feature for certain practices.

Efficient – Chart established patients in 3 minutes including the exam, the orders, the labs, the coding, the note is faxed out to referring physicians, the prescription is faxed or printed or e-prescribed or all of the above, the bililng is done…I had to strike this one out for now. Every EMR vendor makes this claim more or less. I just don’t see that happening for most visits using just Word. I’d love to see some proof of this in a video or something. It also seems to contradict the “no dependence on internet” point above since so many of those things require internet to be done well.

Easy Implementation – Download, Install, Configure, and chart your first patient in 1hr or less…An hour is a seriously short period of time, however, a number of other EMR are claiming 5 minute EMR installs. I personally think that it’s all a bit of marketing spin. There are just far too many customizations people have to make and things people have to learn in order to implement an EMR.

Nice work XLEMR. Simplicity and inexpensive are both really killer features of an EMR. Executing on those two things will make a lot of doctors really happy. I can’t help but wonder what you might be missing as far as reporting and accessibility of records, but that’s not the point of this. The point is to learn about and share killer features that every EMR can try to obtain.

Next up, BennPenn:
Our program, BennPen, is different from most EMR systems because:
1. Our is simple to use. I believe many Drs. who have tried EMRs have rejected them
because they are complicated and difficult to use and the Drs find it takes longer to use
the program than to write the notes as they always have.
This could be a really killer EMR feature, but I’d need to know a specific example of how it’s simpler than other EMR. It’s not just enough to say it’s simple.
2. Our program is customized for each Dr. We load the templates, forms, letters the Doctor
uses into BennPen so he or she continues to chart with the forms they are familiar
with.This is an awesome feature. Many doctors love to chart the way they’re use to charting. I’m sure that many EMR purists will argue that it’s not a real EMR if you don’t capture granular data. However, I think there’s a middle ground that should be considered. Also, what makes this description a killer EMR feature is that the EMR vendor loads the templates for the doctor.
3. The Doctor can use voice, drop-down lists, or a combination of the two. Every EMR vendor can do this, no?
4. Our program is less expensive than many – $3,000 plus $500 for each Dr. over 1 in the
office.I’m always happy to help inform people that the price of EMR doesn’t have to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s what makes lower priced EMR a killer feature.
So, BennPenn added customized EMR templates (loaded by the EMR vendor) and low cost EMR. Two really great features.

I think we’re just barely scratching the surface on what makes an EMR vendor special. Although, maybe the lesson here is that it’s the core features that every EMR claims to offer that makes them special. Maybe I should rephrase the question. Instead of asking about a killer feature, maybe I should be comparing the same feature across multiple EMR systems and highlighting what makes each EMR systems implementation of that feature unique, different and/or better. I’m going to have to think on this one.