No Perfect EHR: How to Use AmericanEHR Ratings

I had a phone conversation a couple of weeks ago with colleagues who had just decided on an EHR for a relatively large ambulatory practice. As they described why they picked this particular product, I went to the AmericanEHR Partners site to see how it faired in the ratings.

What I found was that this product wasn’t placed very highly on any of the AmericanEHR Top Ratings by Category. So, I went to the EHR Vendor Directory to see how many ratings had been received knowing that a minimum of 10 are required before results are posted. This product had a very respectable number of ratings — so I clicked on the link to open up the ratings, and then expanded the ratings to see the very detailed results of the surveys received to date. As expected, there were some areas for which this particular product was considered to be very good — and others for which the ratings were probably just a bit below average. Frankly, this is a common situation. A product that is rated highly in some areas may not have achieved the same level of functionality and usability in other aspects — yet. Hence, there is no perfect EHR.

With rare exception, every EHR purchaser will be faced with a similar situation to my colleagues. However, this is where the ratings on AmericanEHR Partners can be very helpful — even after you’ve selected the vendor and product for your practice. Knowledge is power. You can use the detailed product ratings on AmericanEHR Partners to help guide your contract negotiations and implementation plans.

Here are some examples:

1) Within the AmericanEHR Partners ratings, there are multiple questions that make up the average for each of the 12 categories. Be sure to expand the ratings to drill down to the specific issues in each category. It may be that the product does very well on most of the individual questions — but poorly on one or two. If that’s the case, you will be able to query the vendor about why the product doesn’t do well in these areas and what has been done to improve the product (or training) in response.

2) Clarify with the vendor what upgrades or enhancements have occurred or are planned for areas that have not been rated well on the surveys. To the extent possible, incorporate these expectations into the negotatiated contract.

3) Design your training and implementation plan to address important areas for which the ratings show some weakness. In some cases, the ratings of a product may be an indication of poor training or implementation than a reflection of the features/functions of the product.

4) Speaking with colleagues who use the same product before you purchase a particular product is ideal. However, it may be just as helpful to have a subsequent chat about the weaker areas of the product identified on the survey to see how your colleagues addressed those shortcomings.

5) If the ratings for purchase, implementation, training, and support are weaknesses, these may not be due to the product itself. In some cases, it may be the vendor’s sales/implementation team (or value-added reseller — VAR). Again, speaking with colleagues about their experiences will help you set expectations if you don’t have a choice in the VAR or vendor team. If you do have choices, poor ratings in these areas may be cause to seek an alternative (i.e. a different VAR or a consultant familiar with the product and documented success with practices similar to yours).

Question: What are some ways you’ve found to use the AmericanEHR Partners product ratings?

This post is the personal opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the American College of Physicians (ACP). ACP does not endorse a specific EHR brand or product and ACP makes no representations, warranties, or assurances as to the accuracy or completeness of the information provided herein.



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