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The Pros and Cons of Customizing Your EHR

The Pros and Cons of Customizing Your EHR
16 June 2016

“A man in a well tailored suit will always shine brighter than a guy in an off-the-rack suit.”((“Michael Kors QuotesBrainyQuote.)) A classic saying that can also be used as a metaphor for many different things in life. Like, someone who is unique will stand out more than someone who is just like everyone else. Or, you will be more attractive by simply presenting yourself well, rather than showing up looking frumpy. Or, an EHR that can be customized towards someone’s needs is going to be more useful than one that came right out of the box. 

Customization is a common path for modern practices. Research from Medical Economics reveals that in a 2-year survey, over 50 percent of practices were starting to customize generic EHR templates. But was that necessary for all of them? Analyzing both the pros and the cons of customizing an EHR system can help a practice best plan for the future.


To Customize of Not to Customize

One of the first questions to ask before deciding to move towards a customized EHR is about the health or the efficiency of an existing system. Are there currently bottlenecks in your workflow? Would EHR customization better support “meaningful use” and best practices? Do providers and staff have decreased morale and find themselves frustrated on a routine basis with data entry or records management? If any of these sound familiar, it may be time to consider a tailored records system.

Despite the many benefits of customization, there are associated costs which must also be weighed in the decision-making process. Resource consideration is important when deciding if customization is appropriate, for example. Are the resources (both time and financial) available? If customizations are made and no one has the time to learn how to use the system, that will only create more problems. Creating a cost-benefit analysis can help to determine whether or not to adopt a customized EHR system.


Pros of Customization

As we’ve hammered home at this point, designing and implementing a customized EHR system has many incredible benefits. Custom modules lead to better capturing of data and improved accuracy of that data. Such EHR system positively affects not only practice flow, but also health outcomes.

Another important benefit of a customized EHR system is utilization by providers and staff. With a system carefully tailored to fit the needs of the practice (and in-turn its staff), practice-wide adoption can become much easier. It is no coincidence that staff will be eager to use an EHR system that’s more functional and easier to understand.


Cons of Customization

Despite its advantages, practices need to be aware of the cost of implementing a customized EHR system, both in terms of time and financial investment. The cost of implementation can be high, which is a common barrier to EHR customization for practices. This cost comes in the form of financial investment, but also the investment of time.

Adaptation and training take commitment on the part of providers, staff and administrators; customization management requires thoughtful and careful leadership. Other points of consideration include long-term system changes such as updates, as vendor updates down the line may create rifts with interfacing custom systems. Careful communication with a vendor before customization about future changes is key to best prepare for such events.

Understanding the advantages and costs of implementing a custom EHR system is an important step in deciding if customization is right for your practice.

Now that being said, at the end of the day, the suit is an excellent metaphor in this case. Yeah, sure, you can get a generic EHR and over time, you can sort of make it fit and work for you. But like an off-the-rack suit from Nordstrom, it’s always going to feel off and you’re always going to feel self conscious and embarrassed about it. Especially when you see the nice, well fitted, tailored suit that others are wearing. But the funny thing is, that suit, most likely costs less than what you are wearing. All it took, was taking the fabric and finding the right tailor. Your customized EHR system doesn’t need to be expensive. You just need to find the right tailor, who can create the well-fitted system for you.

If you want blueEHR to suit you up, contact us.