We all know the saying “you get what you pay for.”
This is true of many things, including EHR software. Both the vendor’s core software, and upsold add-ons, work together in harmony to create a useful product for an agency.
Sometimes, though, you may not want to pay for an add-on or something else that might be part of your EHR implementation plan. Thankfully, there are strategies for you to evaluate EHR add-ons.
We’ll review some of them here so you have a better idea of how to evaluate EHR software add-ons before making any decisions about them.
Understanding your needs (Is this add-on necessary?)
It’s important to understand your needs before you begin looking at add-ons. If you don’t, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the number of options available and end up making a decision based on something other than what’s best for your practice.
Before selecting an EHR add-on, take some time to make a list of all the things you want it to do; if the software can do that, then great! If not, maybe it’s time to move on.
For example: if you need electronic prescriptions but also want electronic billing and scheduling features in your software, look for one with those capabilities built in rather than purchasing individual modules separately.
This one is pretty easy. How much money do you have in your budget?
How much can you spend on EHR software add-ons? Is it $10,000 per year or $1 million per year? Or somewhere in between those two numbers?
Are there other costs involved with implementing an EHR system, such as training and maintenance fees, that need to be factored into this evaluation process as well?
Understand vendor costs
You should understand the costs associated with each vendor that you’re considering. These include:
- Cost of the software solution
- Cost of integrating that solution into your existing system(s)
- Support costs (this includes both phone and email support)
- Maintenance costs (upgrades/patches)
- Data migration costs, if applicable
- Opportunity cost during implementation/training
Understand integration costs
The cost of integrating an add-on with your EHR system will be important to you. The same is true for integrating an add-on with other systems, software, or hardware.
What is your timeline?
When evaluating a new add-on, you must first decide how long you need it for. Do you need it immediately or can the addition wait until your next upgrade cycle?
Next, consider how soon you need it in order to get it installed and working properly by your deadline. Some providers offer quick turnaround times while others take longer depending on how busy they are and what other projects they might be working on at the moment.
Finally, evaluate whether or not there will be enough time left over after installing this add-on in order to test it thoroughly and train your staff before the deadline arrives.
Are there other options you could use instead?
If you’re considering software add-ons, ask yourself:
- Do I need a new system? If you can’t answer this question positively and with certainty, don’t bother with the add-on. It’s better to spend your time and money on something else.
- Is it possible that another software add-on would work better than what I’m looking at now? This is a great question because it will allow you to get creative in thinking about how exactly your business could benefit from an extra feature or two without having to consider switching over entirely.
- Can I use another piece of software instead? There may be some overlap between products that offer similar features—a good example of this would be medical billing programs for EHR software versus professional billers (which are used by hospitals).
- They both have similar jobs (collecting payment), but their processes are different enough that they don’t have to compete with each other within the same market space. So if there’s another product already out there doing what yours does but differently, look into making sure there aren’t any benefits before dipping into the world of customizations.
Consider the data complications of the add-on
When evaluating an EHR add-on, it’s important to consider the data complications that will be involved. In most cases, the add-on will need to integrate with your EHR and any other data systems you use. It may also need to connect with other vendors and partners.
Consider these main points when evaluating an add-on:
- How well does it integrate with other systems? If a new patient comes in for a checkup, can they be added automatically into the system? Can their existing records be pulled up from the previous doctor’s office or hospital?
- Is there anything else we should know about how this software works? If so, it would be helpful to have someone walk us through it in person before signing on; this way we won’t waste time learning about something we don’t want or need later down the road!
Think about support
It’s a good idea to consider the level of support you’ll have access to with your chosen EHR software add-on. Most vendors offer some kind of customer service, but this often varies in terms of quality and responsiveness. A range of support options is more likely to be available from a vendor that has a strong commitment to its product and its users—and this is one way for you to evaluate the potential longevity of the solution.
You may also find it useful to look at reviews left by other customers who’ve purchased or used similar products or services; these can give you insight into how well an organization handles issues when they arise, as well as whether this has happened frequently enough that people are talking about it online.
Can you bring in an EHR consultant to help with this problem?
As with any major decision, it’s important to get professional advice. You can bring in an EHR consultant to help with this problem.
How do you find a good one? It’s important to find someone who is experienced in your industry and has experience using the same software that you are considering.
When evaluating EHR software add-ons, it’s important to understand the available options and how they fit into your practice. It’s also important to keep in mind that a good solution will require some investment on your part, but it will save you time and money in the long run. As always, we’re here for you if you need help making these decisions or implementing solutions—just give us a call or send us an email!