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EMR Electronic Medical Records Vendors
What’s in a Name?
With dozens of EMR/EHR software developers in the marketplace, and new ones seemingly appearing on a daily basis, you have a lot of choices in finding the right EMR for you. These companies vary from one man home grown free EMR (support done by you and possibly by the software programmer), to giant multimillion dollar operations.
When you do a Google search for EMR companies you’ll find many available on the market. Other great places to look are in the offices of your local colleagues. What EMRs are they using in their practice? Are their practices similar in scope and specialty to yours? Does your local hospital use an EMR (or are they considering purchasing any?) Some hospitals may sublicense or subsidize the purchase of an EMR to medical staff.
Other places to look include medical societies such the American Academy of Family Practice center for IT, or American Academy of Pediatrics. These websites have sections for members to compare different vendor features and their suitability for each specialty.
Let Someone Else do the Searching for you!
There are also EMR consultants on the market who will research which type of EMR will work for your practice after asking questions about your specialty, practice size, and more. Be aware that many of these EMR consultants (even the free ones) likely have ties to EMR vendors and will likely point customers to a more select and preferred list of vendors from which they may receive a commission from. It is very difficult to find a truly impartial and unbiased source of information on the “right” EMR.
What about the “Free” EMRs
There are a handful of free EMRs, including a government sponsored one based off of one of the best known and longest used EMR (VISTA) by the VA hospital system. Also are a number of home grown open source EMRs. These may be workable solutions for you, just be prepared to do some of your own installation, troubleshooting, and possibly programming to get them to work for you, or at least you may be paying service fees to keep your system happy. Also, remember, you get what you pay for! While some free EMRs may even give some free support, you can’t really yell at them if you can’t get your EMR to work during a busy afternoon, and it’s not like you can ask for your money back!
Getting Married to your EMR Vendor
Remember, choosing and implementing an EMR in some ways is more difficult than a marriage. You need to be fully committed to going thru with the deal. We’ve all heard horror stories about EMR rollout failures, due to a variety of reasons including MD resistance, staff indifference, cost overruns, over-promising by the EMR vendor and more. This is a serious decision that will affect many areas of your practice, including patient care, workflow and work load.
In doing this EMR vendor courtship, you need to be sure your vendor will be in it for the long haul. There are too many EMR/HER vendors on the market to count, but you’ll want to investigate a few key things when selecting the vendor. How long have they been in business? What is their background? Who is their CEO, and what are his/her plans for the company? It is relatively risky to sign a long term contract (or even enter in any contract, since you don’t want to go thru the pains of changing EMRs) with a company that is young. You’ll want to ask them if they are a profitable company, and who their investors are. In many cases these smaller EMR companies are like the Internet startups, with high “burn rates” of initial capital investments. You may not want to “bet” your practice on a newcomer unless you have real confidence in their long term growth potential.
Here is a short list of major players in the EMR space mostly geared toward smaller individual or group practices. If you choose one of these EMRs, you can’t go wrong with them.