When selecting an EHR for your practice, often using a trusted EHR consultant can help save you both time and money if you select a consultant who has experience implementing EHRs and is also a good fit for your practice.
The first step in selecting an EHR consultant is determining what you want a consultant to assist with (e.g., vendor selection, implementation, or post go-live support). This decision will drastically influence the type of consultant you want to use.
The best way to find capable and reliable EHR consultants is to ask colleagues who have had good experiences. Local colleagues are best, since they can recommend consultants who know the local labs, payers, and pharmacies with whom your EHR will interface. Always ask for references from a consultant’s previous clients.
Remember that every EHR has its limitations. Select a consultant who is aware of the challenges associated with EHR implementation and who will openly discuss those challenges and real world solutions for overcoming them. Fit is very important. You will spend considerable time and money working with this consultant, so if you do not feel comfortable around that consultant, keep looking for one who does make you feel at ease and that you will be able to work with for an extended period of time (one to two year timeframe).
Practices interested in finding a good EHR implementation and post go-live support consultant should start by asking their EHR vendor. Vendors are often aware of consultants who are familiar with their software, and that would be a good fit for your specific organization.
Below are some of the benefits of hiring an EHR consultant
A well-trained EHR consultant should be well versed in EHR contracts and be able to assist with negotiation, point out problem areas, and suggest missing details. EHR consultants can even help small clinics negotiate things like long-term pricing arrangements, concessions for time spent hosting site visits for vendor prospects, and upfront costs.
A consultant can provide a perspective that is not influenced by organizational norms. Fresh eyes are often able to see problems that daily users of a system have learned to overlook.
When selecting an EHR, this could be a problem. However, once an EHR is implemented, an EHR consultant’s relationship with a vendor could be the key in obtaining needed changes or fixes to the software.
Educated configuration decisions
Most EHR systems require extensive configuration. Bad configuration decisions can have a long-lasting impact on the end users. Experienced EHR consultants know what has worked before in similar settings for a particular EHR and what hasn’t and can assist you in determining which configuration options best meet your clinical needs.
Knowledge of available technology
An EHR consultant should understand the capabilities and limitations of available technologies (fax servers, voice recognition software, microphones, biometric authentication, scanners, card readers, digital cameras, printers, tablets, desktops, wireless, shared drives, OCR, IM, etc.) and be able to advise which are suitable for your practice.
Converting paper charts
A number of options exist for handling old paper charts. Selecting the option that fits the needs of your practice is best done by someone who has experienced the transition firsthand.
Improved clinical buy-in
Consultants with a proven track record of successful EHR implementations can instill more end-user confidence. They can also share firsthand experience related to the benefits of an EHR implementation.
EHR vendor training is usually generic training that covers every feature of their EHR software. This training can be confusing, overwhelming, and a waste of time because no clinic uses every feature of an EHR. A good consultant can train end users on only the features likely to be used by the practice.
Please note: It is unrealistic and unlikely to expect that any EHR consultant can provide all these benefits listed above. Instead, your practice should decide which are most important for your practice, and then use those criteria when researching and vetting EHR consultant candidates.