John Lynn and I spent a few hours together at HIMSS this past week and he gave me a preview of his new How to Select an EMR eBook. When he first told me about it, I figured it was yet another how to go guide with generalities and high level advice. However, as he and I walked through the various sections I became more and impressed to the point where I now recommend it as a must-read for anyone that’s looking to purchase an EMR and wants to know how to make sure they don’t get sold a lemon by a vendor.
The text is readable and written in a punchy, “just the facts, ma’am” style to make sure it keeps flowing quickly to get to the meat and potatoes without trying to tell you what you already know. John starts out by talking about the difference between EMRs and EHRs then jumps straight into how to gain EMR implementation buy-in from users. He then talks about guaranteed benefits, possible benefits, potential dubious benefits, and finally the long-term benefits of EMRs. This is important so that you’re well advised of what an EMR sales person will tell you so that you can debate their points. What I love about this section is that he makes the benefits (or promises) easy to understand so that can you can decide whether you’ll see those benefits or not.
In the next section John goes into how to narrow the selection field based on pricing models (monthly, upfront, etc.), deployment models (cloud, SaaS, on-premise, etc.), documentation interface, type of integration with practice management systems, interfaces, specialty-specific features, data conversion support, and certifications. While these sections are good, I have suggested to John that he add some information on managed appliances as well (something I’m covering in a book I’m writing). An appliance located on-premise but completely managed and backed up remotely by the vendor will be a common model in the future.
After narrowing the EMR vendors field section, John jumps into the details to consider when evaluating EMR vendors. This includes how to integrate the benefits you’re looking for, “True” EMR price, the EMR user interface, the ARRA (HITECH) stimulus money, how to match EMR’s target organization size with your organization’s culture. He goes into several pages of details about how to get the right demos, how to ask good questions, and how EMR vendors might either mislead you (accidentally or on purpose) or how you might misunderstand their answers to your questions. He concludes the demo’s section by telling you how to talk to your friends and colleagues and perform site visits to make sure their installation will work in your environment.
The final selection guidelines and the contract negotiation section itself is worth the price of the book alone. John goes into all the major parts of the contracts and explains what each part means and how you should respond for each item. In the end the book is closed out with a “Managing Expectations” section in which he tells you how to be sure you set the right expectations for success.
If you’re looking to select an EMR, this is a great book to start with. No fluff, just sound advice and a “how to” guide that you can trust to get you to a good selection and purchase decision.