Electronic health records (EHR) are commonplace in physician practices now, but physicians know they haven’t always made it easier to practice medicine or provide high-quality care. A free online module in the AMA’s STEPS Forward collection can help you prioritize the needs of your patients and your practice to make the best EHR choice. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to EHR adoption, but there are things you can consider before you make your selection.
Assess the needs of your practice to determine the most important and relevant characteristics you need in an EHR system. Consider:
Interoperability is still a major concern for physicians using EHRs, but you generally can find one with basic interoperability. If you’re already using a variety of health IT for managing patient information and medical care, such as e-prescribing software or a practice management system, choose an EHR that can integrate with your existing systems.
You might wish to give consideration to systems used by other groups you often interact with to help ensure you choose a system that can integrate, or at least communicate, with these other systems. Without this capability, some paper-based processes will remain unchanged even with an EHR. For example, instead of transmitting lab tests and referrals electronically, you’ll still have to send them via fax.
Other local health care groups may prefer a certain type of EHR and may be willing to subsidize or assist with adoption. Partnering with these groups may help you negotiate a lower-cost option.
Many more details on this process can be found in the module, including downloadable resources to help you in your decision. The module also includes information about how to get support for implementing EHR changes in your practice, and it offers continuing medical education credit. More than 25 modules are expected to be available in the AMA’s STEPS Forward collection by the end of the year.
Several other STEPS Forward modules can help you maximize the benefits of using an EHR in your practice. These include: