The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS outlines best practices for selecting and implementing a new electronic health records system as part of its health IT playbook, a resource it first released in 2016.
“EHR systems aren’t one-size-fits-all. To choose the right EHR software, physicians and staff need to consider their practice’s specific needs and resources,” the playbook reads.
In the playbook, the ONC points to a six-step module for healthcare organizations to follow to assess which EHR software is best for their needs. The module was developed by the American Medical Association as part of its practice-improvement initiative, Steps Forward:
1) Review resources. Regional extension centers, trade groups and colleagues may be able to provide your organization with information to help inform a new purchase.
2) Assess needs. That means both prioritizing what software components are important to your organization and measuring your staff’s readiness for health IT adoption.
3) Set requirements. This step defines the baseline criteria for the EHR, for example, whether your organization wants a self-hosted, cloud-based or outsourced system.
4) Select a vendor. Once you’ve established what components you want, it’s time to see which EHRs meet those requirements. This step includes setting up vendor demonstrations and soliciting proposals.
5) Determine the cost. That’s not just the cost of the contract with your selected vendor. It’s the total cost of ownership, from initial data migration to ongoing maintenance.
6) Negotiate a contract. The contract is more than cost. You’ll need to negotiate for ongoing support and services, as well as a HIPAA business associate agreement.
The ONC’s playbook also includes resources to guide hospitals through EHR demonstrations, performance tests and pricing.