Electronic medical records: Shopping wisely saves time, trouble, expense later

March 1, 2006

Look at your current operations, the shortcomings of your current records system and your expectations for new hardware and software.

Are you ready to make the leap into an electronic medical record (EMR)? Or are you trying to figure out if an EMR is right for your dermatology practice?

Before you start shopping, take time to plan your evaluation process. Follow these tips to avoid costly mistakes:

1. How often does the vendor provide system updates?

2. Does the vendor provide periodic system upgrades and does it charge for them?

3. Have the vendor's previous updates and upgrades gone smoothly or was there downtime or system bugs?

4. How quickly and adequately does the vendor respond when customers find bugs in the system?

5. How long does installation typically take?

6. Will current hardware and any other software you use have to be replaced or modified?

7. Does the vendor provide sufficient staff and physician training?

8. Will the vendor put into writing a formal communication plan, an assignment of roles and responsibilities, a project risk management plan and a deployment plan?

Selecting an EMR is time-consuming, but it pays to be careful. You're making a choice that will determine the future of your dermatology practice.