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Picking the Right EHR: A Few Simple Steps to Find a Usable and Affordable System

Dr. Bertman is Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University and is the Physician Editor-in-Chief of MDNG / MD Net Guide. He is the founder and president of AmazingCharts.com, a leading developer of EHR software and AfraidToAsk.com, a consumer health-information website. He has a private practice in Hope Valley, Rhode Island.

As a Family Physician and the president of Amazing Charts, an EHR company that focuses on small practices like my own, I get to see the EHR industry from both a physician and a vendor perspective. One would like to believe that both sides work as partners to promote successful EHR adoptions where everybody ends up satisfied. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and it turns out that it is the unwary physician that all too often gets the short end of the stick.

Proof of this is the astounding percentage of practices that have paid thousands for an EHR only to have it sit, under-utilized, or unused, on their computers. In fact, it is estimated that more than 1/3 of all attempted EHR implementations fail. And this alarming number is expected to increase substantially as the less technologically savvy among us are pressured by the government and third-party payers to adopt health technology.

But using some simple common sense, which is surprisingly overlooked by many otherwise quite intelligent physicians, will ensure that you will nott experience the buyer s remorse that a good number of your colleagues will, or already are, experiencing. Simply asking yourself two simple questions will not only save you hours upon hours of frustration, it will also save you thousands upon thousands of dollars. • Is the system proven to be USABLE?

As an overworked physician in a practice where reimbursements are low and money is always tight, it is obvious that these two points are all that really matter. Finding the answers to these common sense questions is relatively easy, and focusing on these two points while ignoring all the other marketing hype and vendor promises, will ensure you do not end up in the group of physicians who have already made a time-consuming and costly mistake.

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