7 Questions to Ask When Considering EHR Replacement

A growing group of physicians are frustrated with EHR systems that fail to deliver on promises of saving time and increasing efficiency. Many of these peeved providers are switching from one EHR vendor to another in hopes of ditching cumbersome systems for nimble and robust EHRs that can help their practices grow and flourish. But unlike upgrading smartphones or tablets, upgrading to a newer, more powerful EHR system isn't as simple as just visiting your local store and picking out a new one. If you're thinking about replacing your current EHR, consider the following questions to determine if EHR replacement is right for you:

1. Could the issues be resolved through remediation? If so, is the vendor responsive to your needs and concerns? If your vendor is unwilling to work with you to resolve critical issues, it is time to find a new vendor—now more than ever, it is critical to have a strong technology partner that is committed to your success.

2. Could the vendor resolve the issues by making technical improvements? If so, will the vendor commit to making the needed improvements in a reasonable time frame? If not, begin the process of evaluating other EHR systems to find a new software solution with the technical abilities to meet your organization's needs.

3. Is your practice at least partially responsible for the issues? What could be done on your end to resolve the problems? If your organization has done everything possible to resolve issues and your vendor is unwilling to take the necessary steps to resolve the problems, swapping your EHR may make sense.

4. Is your current EHR product/vendor stable enough to be in business for the long-term? You don't want to end up with a vendor that is sunsetting their product or being acquired within five years. If your current EHR vendor is not privately held and financially stable, consider making the switch to an EHR partner that can commit to your success in the long run.

5. What penalties apply if you terminate the contact? Review the termination clause in your current EHR contract to find out what it will cost if your organization decides to make the switch before your contract has expired. This should not necessarily be a deterrent to replacing your EHR—in many cases, may be well worth the cost.

6. Can your organization's goals, such as earning Meaningful Use incentives or earning recognition as a patient-centered medical home, be accomplished using your current EHR software? If your current EHR technology is holding your organization back from earning incentives, improving quality and reducing costs, the switch to a new EHR system may very well be worthwhile.

7. Is your current system negatively impacting physician productivity? Your EHR should be a time saver, not a drag on productivity. The dangers of keeping an EHR system that hinders performance are real, and an EHR that hampers productivity now will only grow worse as the complexities of health reform initiatives increase in the future.