Are you in the process of selecting an electronic medical record (EMR)? Have you walked the flashy exhibit hall aisles or clicked through some cool demos? And have the products already started to become a blur in your mind?
It doesn't take long before most physicians shopping for an EMR feel desperate for help.
Selection guides — Consumer Reports-like resources — are out there. Some are free, some are as little as $19.95, or you can spend thousands of dollars.
All can be good screening tools, but don't rely on any single one of them. It is helpful to look "behind the scenes" of these reports and services to understand their data sources and limitations. Here are few examples:
The Digital Physician
Digital Physician provides online comparisons of about 70 EMR products. Since there are hundreds of EMRs available, starting with a database of just 70 already probably oversimplifies your search. The guide reports on 30 features, as well as company information including contact, years in business, number of users, and HIPAA compliance. Sometimes you also can compare product prices.
Be forewarned that some of the information is dated — up to two years old — and the report offers just limited information about EMR product features. However, as one of the least-expensive resources at $19.95, and with a money-back satisfaction guarantee, The Digital Physician can be a good point of entry. Just don't use it exclusively as it may narrow your selection prematurely in your process.
The POMIS Report from Jewson Enterprises (POMIS stands for "physician's office management and medical information systems") includes practice management and EMR system vendors. It contains facts, figures, and insights from multiple sources, analyzed by the author, Vinson J. Hudson.
The report provides market forecasts, demographics, and analyses in the context of healthcare events and trends, technology utilization, and competitive performance. It is published in three volumes and available on CD:
- Volume 1: The POMIS Report market research and analysis document,
- Volume 2: The Satisfaction Rating Directory of POMIS Vendors (The SRD), and
- Volume 3: The Ambulatory Care Setting - EMR/EHR Systems Analysis.
Volumes can be purchased individually. All three volumes will cost you thousands of dollars, but the full service does include telephone support (typical reports range from $2,500 to $5,000). Jewson's quarterly newsletter is a cheaper alternative, but its content varies based on recent trends and events in the industry. It's not comprehensive.
If you've had some exposure to EMR products, this rating directory will help you compare and contrast in a systematic method rather than defaulting to your emotional reaction to a vendor demo.
This site provides ratings and reviews of software packages and a generic checklist of features you can use to evaluate systems and prioritize against your needs. The information includes product comparison data (pricing, hardware, operating system, support policies, etc.) and written reports on CTS' top picks.
Its software tool, The Requirements Analyst, helps you select a product for your practice. You enter a weight (0-3) for each feature in the checklist indicating its importance to you, and the software tool ranks the CTS top picks (which means the pool of potential products is limited) by the percentage of needs met for your practice. All services are available online.
This tool can be helpful if you have not identified many vendors for your selection process. It is also useful to help you create a needs checklist if you haven't begun to document your needs.
AC Group Inc.
The AC Group offers extensive reports priced from $100 to over $200, but also makes free samples of its reports available online.
The EMR report is based on cumulative results of a 90-page survey with 5,455 questions divided into 27 categories. The EMR/EHR report assigns a weighted point value for each of the questions, which provides another dimension for evaluation.
Although the report provides a lot of information, the survey findings are based on what vendors said about their own products, and some EMR vendors elect not to participate — the survey's size turns some off. Still, this report is useful to provide a launching point for further dialogue with selected vendors.