Part of the process of selecting an EMR is evaluating how the system performs in a clinical setting. Despite the similarities between EMR systems, they function very differently in a patient care setting. When a vendor demonstrates their product, they will promote the strengths and downplay the weaknesses. That is the job of the salesman. Obviously it is important to do site visits and get a solid idea how each system functions in a medical practice. But, what can you do when you evaluate an EMR one-on-one with a product vendor?
One of the ways to level the playing field is to prepare a standard script that you can present to the vendor and have them run through a clinical encounter. This will give you a much better idea of the functionality and workflow.
Earlier this year I helped put together an EMR education and vendor session in my community. The 4 vendors who were in attendance were asked to run through a pre-prepared clinical scenario over 20 minutes. The scenario included booking a patient appointment, checking the patient in on arrival and then running through a history and physical exam for 50 year old female patient with right renal angle pain and fever. Once a diagnosis of pyelonephritis is made, blood work is ordered and a renal ultrasound is requested. In the interim an antibiotic is prescribed and the patient is booked in for a follow up visit.
The value of this exercise is the ability to standardize the evaluation in a way the makes sense to you as a physician. You will quickly be able to detect functional differences between different systems that you evaluate.
In my opinion, this is a valuable exercise and 20 minutes well spent.
If you have had similar experiences or disagree with this approach, please click on the 'Comments' link below to share your thoughts.