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Vendor Selection is only the First Step of EMR Success!

Vendor Selection is only the First Step of EMR Success!
22 April 2014

In a recent article we identified challenges that small practices face when they are looking to upgrade to a modern EMR system. Here we will identify actions that will help you ensure your EMR implementation is successful.


Not every EMR is suitable for every practice. The right EMR partner will provide a solution that balances the specialty specific needs of your business with the capability and experience of customizations that fit the EMR to you practice, not your practice to the EMR system.

With hundreds of EMR vendors in the marketplace, the prospect of narrowing your search can be overwhelming and exhausting.  If possible, check with colleagues to see which EMR vendor they have selected, and how it was tailored to it suit their needs. Their experiences can provide valuable insight into key vendor selection criteria.  Once you have narrowed down the list of potential partners, ask the EMR vendors to demonstrate a record of successful implementations for practices in your specific field.    Follow up with any references they give you.


The lack of information exchange and interoperability is one of the leading causes of dissatisfaction according to recent studies of health care providers using an EMR. It is important that your EMR vendor has adapted industry standards and has identifiable plans for information sharing and connectivity.  Lab interfaces, ePrescribing, and interfaces to health information exchanges require vendors to play well with others and not continue down proprietary paths.

Ask your potential vendor which standards the EMR supports, and make sure they provide support for interoperability with other systems.  The vendor should be able to demonstrate standards based interfaces, patient communications, and future plans to evolve interoperability.


Time is critical to your practices’ EMR success.  The U.S. Government has taken a “carrot and stick” approach with bonuses and penalties to encouraging health providers to adopt an EMR system. While the deadline for the biggest bonus has already passed, incentive money is stall available and penalties are still very much a factor. However, choosing an EMR vendor is not something you should rush into. Some practices selected an EMR vendor that failed to deliver on the promises of improved practice efficiency and obtaining incentives, leaving the practice in debt and dealing with a poorly implemented solution.

Ask your prospective vendors to provide detailed implementation plans and estimate the time to completion. The implementation of an EMR will have a significant impact on your practice, and selecting a vendor that claims they will have your practice up and running in hours may not be a realistic approach to successful EMR implantation. Speak with other practices the vendor has worked with and ask about their timelines for implementation.  Establish realistic schedules and ensure you are comfortable with the effort, time commitment, and previous track record of your EMR vendor.


A successfully implemented EMR not only addresses the needs of the provider, but also addresses the needs of other practice members. Most practices have workflows that involve multiple players in the patient’s healthcare encounter. The ability to satisfy the needs of front desk, multiple medical professionals, billing, and practice management roles plays an important role in achieving success.  There will always be some initial disruption in workflow whenever change occurs, but you can take steps to minimize the disturbance. Some EMRs are very flexible in how information is displayed, organized and entered. Your EMR vendor should try to match your existing work process as closely as possible.

When it comes to getting employees comfortable with the new system, taking a team-based approach is a demonstrated best practice. Try to identify workers who may need extra training and help and give incentives for knowledgeable employees to help those who are struggling. At the same time, be realistic about the process of training and support you will receive from the vendor. Try to schedule specific times to meet with your EMR vendor, and recognize that follow up training may be necessary.



Selecting an EMR that doesn’t suit your practice and workflow can leave you frustrated, working more hours, and seeing fewer patients. Your practice will be worse off than before your EMR if entering information cuts into the amount of time physicians are available to see patients. Choosing an EMR isn’t a decision to take lightly. It’s like choosing a dance partner. The wrong partner steps on your feet and gets in the way. The right partner matches your movements and takes you both swiftly across the floor.

ZH Healthcare takes the right approach to being your partner. Our defined Go-Live process, realistic time expectations (30 days to practice use not completion), and proven service and support ensure your practice’s EHR implementation will be a success.