As a health IT consultant I come across a number of Practices, who made the jump to Electronic Health Records without taking into consideration their own

  •     Practice Specialty
  •     Size
  •     Workflow

The key driving force behind their decisions is:

  •        Price: many choosing to jump on the free EHR bandwagon with little importance given to product quality and functionality.
  •        Big brand names: Safe choice as most people would assume that big names mean better product quality and service.

Net result is a system that is not fit for the practice and slows them down rather than achieve the promised benefits of Health IT. If you are among these practices, it is still not too late to switch to a better yet affordable system. However, make sure that you follow the following steps to ensure that this time it is the right choice.

Big Names may not always mean the best product

Don’t fall for the “BEST EHR” gimmick until you have seen it to believe it. Best EHR polls are based on market sizes which are directly proportional to the market that these vendors deal in rather than product quality. These ranking only shows who marketed the best, not whose system is the best.  Thus intuitively, vendors dealing in the hospital market will logically have a greater market share than vendors specializing in medium to small scale practices.

Thus, always consider the size of your practice before short listing vendors.

For example if you are a small practice investing in big names may not be the best decision. Not only do these products usually cost more but they are also designed keeping in mind the workflow of large organizations and are not the most user friendly solutions.

You might end up spending more time completing your documentation than before, which defeats the purpose of deploying technology in your practice to begin with.

 Focus on specialty rather than a generic EHR

Just as a general physician can’t be the best man to treat cancer, a generic EHR based on “one shoe fits all philosophy “cannot be the best system to run a specialty practice. I recently had a pediatrician complain that his EHR by default included cardiovascular diseases and related literature in the normal follow up visit of a 6 month old kid!

When there is an option to become specialized at the same price as generic EHRs -always choose specialty specific systems. You will be able to integrate related devices, work on disease specific provider note templates and receive clinical decision support based on your kind of practice.

Learn more: Specialty EHR: Are they better than the enterprise version?

Why specialty EHRs are more suitable for specialists?

Read your existing Vendor contract to ensure that your vendor does not lock in your data.

This is applicable for new users as well. Read your contract carefully while signing up. Many vendors in the market, even the more popular and bigger ones, will make it very difficult for you to switch. Don’t lock yourself in such contracts else be prepared for legal battles to gain access to your own data!

Ask your new vendor about data migration

Most demographic, referral and insurance information can be replicated in the new system. This is included in the standard data migration. Provider notes however cannot easily be replicated in the new system.

Many vendors however offer services to transfer these to the new system as well. You can either inquire about specialized date migration or whether these EHRs have a document manager feature to assist in transferring provider notes as PDFs in the new system.

At the end of the day, choosing the right Health technology is a long term investment in your practice. Do a little research into smaller yet specialized companies as well before you finalize your decision. The best way to compare products is to schedule a free demonstration to get a general idea about the product and whether it fits your workflow.


Scott Parker is a renowned Health IT expert who actively contributes to the leading industry forums by writing insightful and critical content encompassing current topics such as the EMR, practice management, eRx, patient portal, revenue cycle management, compliance, privacy and security.