Make sure you research all the EHR benefits as many vendors will advertise similar features, but that doesn’t imply that the features work the same way
A substantial number of chiropractor offices across the country will potentially switch EHR vendors this year. If you are one of them, or have been contemplating a switch, there are a number of things to consider both in terms of challenges and opportunities for your practice.
One question that you need to ask yourself would be why I need to switch. Is my current EHR slowing me down and does not provide me the tools and EHR benefits that I need to grow my practice and compete with others? In addition are you going to be saving money over the long run with the switch due to lower cost and better efficiency as well as marketing opportunities the new EHR provides.
Before you start looking at replacements, it’s important to quantify what you’d like to see improve in your new EHR and how easy or difficult switching is going to be.
While chiropractors recognize that there are significant new opportunities for savings and efficiencies by switching a system, they need to be prepared and be aware of the potential challenges that come with any EHR migration.
Validating EHR benefits assumptions
You expected that your EHR will send automated reminders to patients before their appointment. You had asked the vendor that question, and they said yes. What could go wrong? Well, it turns out that the system will send reminders only if you know the cell phone carrier for each of your patients, and manually enter it into the system! Good luck making the reminders work.
Many EHR vendors will advertise similar features but that doesn’t imply that the features work the same way. Validate your assumptions and make sure you understand how the features work. If possible talk to someone who is already using the new EHR and look up their reviews.
This is probably the most significant roadblock that chiropractor offices face when moving from one EHR/practice management software to another. The problem occurs because of a lack of data standards for storing, retrieving or transferring information. When a chiropractor office sends an electronic claim using software, the claim file that the insurance company receives does not look like what the chiropractic office sent.
The claim file received by the insurance company is a delimited file that is based on an Electronic Data Exchange standard (EDI) known as EDI837. Because the standard exists, any insurance company that accepts EDI 837 can receive claims from any EHR. However, no such standard exists for how the EHR systems store or retrieve data. This can result in serious headaches during the migration, unless planned for in advance.
Before making the switch, talk to your new EHR system and find out exactly what data can be transferred and if they help with it. It is better to know upfront the costs associated with data migration. Resist the temptation to insist that all data should be transferred and show up exactly the way it was in your old system. It is sometimes easier to store some of the old records in an electronic repository, since you would not be accessing them often.
The time investment required to switch an EHR include multiple areas, which should be considered and planned in advance. There are two main components of time investment:
Training Time — The time to learn a new system, the EHR benefits, the time to train your staff, as well as the time to work with the new EHR vendor to get the setup completed. Talk to your vendor on what the typical time commitment is. Remember to factor in the time needed for training. Some EHRs recommend you dedicate time in training yourself as well as for your staff, while other EHRs are easy to learn and the time investment for training is minimal.
Time investment — There is a possibility that you may be running two systems in parallel during the course of the migration. That will impact the productivity of the staff as well as the chiropractor.
Talk to existing customers about the system’s EHR benefits
It is always prudent to talk to somebody who has been using the product for over a year. Before you get onto such a call, prepare a list of features and EHR benefits that you want to get feedback on. Try to understand what the existing customers like and what they do not like about the product. Sometimes you may hear about issues that others think are not significant, but they might be significant for you – because of the way you run your practice.
Recognize that the time spent upfront in planning all the details about the migration is time well spent. Every hour spent before or during the data migration could save you many hours post migration.
Sukhi Singh is the founder and CEO of zHealthEHR, overseeing all product development as well as interactions with key customers. Sukhi has worked in technology for 18 years including healthcare companies like Kaiser Permanente, Aetna and Blue Shield. Prior to zHealth, Sukhi was the co-founder and CEO of RideZoom, a rideshare platform. Sukhi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through zhealthehr.com.