Shopping for a practice management or electronic medical records solution can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not familiar with computer technology or all of the elements that make up the software. Some of the questions that you can be asked during the initial vetting process can be confusing and probably make you wonder why you’re making the switch from paper to electronic or from your current vendor to a new one. While every company is different, if you know the answers to these six questions before you begin your search, your medical software solution shopping experience could be a lot more delightful.
Six Things to Know When Shopping for Medical Software
Do you want a cloud-based or a server-based solution? Are you asking, “What’s a cloud?” It’s ok, a lot of people do. Here’s the quick definition: Cloud-based is an Internet-based solution that is hosted at an off-site location by a vendor, has smaller technical requirements and automatically updates. Server-based is a hardware-based solution that is hosted at your location, has larger technical requirements and needs manual updates.Click here for a more in-depth look at the differences between cloud and client server software. Knowing which server solution you want will directly affect the cost of your product, as well as the work involved with managing sensitive personal health information (PHI) data and software upgrades.
Do you need data conversion? Your office likely has a lot of records (paper or electronic) that may need to be imported into the new solution to be accessible to providers. Some practices opt to do this manually, while others opt to have it done for them. The decision will directly affect the cost, so understanding your files, what information is critical to have, and how much time you want to devote to getting them into the new system will help determine what kind and how much data conversion you will need.
Yes, I need a cloud solution. Click here to get more info the MicroMD cloud solution.
How quickly do you want to implement? Installing a new system, or switching over from a different system, can take anywhere from several weeks to several months. Be realistic in setting a date keeping in mind equipment may need to be ordered, set up, and delivered. Vendors (whose services you’ve ordered) may be backlogged, and trainers may have limited availability. Your selection of a cloud-based or server-based solution will also affect your implementation time. Most medical software solutions do not come ready to use “out of the box,” so be patient, flexible and willing to put the work to customize your software based on your practice’s specific workflows and provider documentation preferences.
How many users will need access to the software? Software requires licenses in order to operate, so the more users you have accessing the system, the more licenses that will need to be purchased. Users can include providers, physician assistants, nurses, billing staff, and office administrators. Again, your selection of a cloud-based or server-based solution will also come into play here, each has different requirements and licensing fees when it comes to user access.
Will you require interfaces with other software? Most software solutions can connect your office to outside labs, specialty or immunization registries, or even with other practice management and electronic medical records. Your practice’s interface needs will be a factor in cost and implementation.
Do you plan to pursue a CMS EHR Incentive Program? If the answer is yes, it is extremely important to know which program each provider will register for: Medicare* or Medicaid. This determines the amount of reimbursement providers are eligible for, Meaningful Use attestation requirements, and if the provider will require additional services like a patient portal. *Important note: The last year for Medicare Eligible Professionals (EPs) to participate in a Medical EHR Incentive Program to secure incentives and avoid 2015 Medicare payment adjustments for not meeting Meaningful Use (MU) is 2014. Also, Medicare program EPs starting MU in 2014 as their first program year must attest to secure 2014 MU requirements by October 1, 2014, which means EPs need to complete their 90 days of MU in the first 9 months of the year.