Selecting the right EHR for your health care organization is an important decision with lasting ramifications. An EHR system affects every individual – from those who work in administration to professionals that provide direct patient care. One of the ways to leverage your research is to have a vendor perform a live demonstration of the EHR they are offering.

Perform your Due Diligence

Choosing an EHR should not be the job of the health care IT administrator. Technology is no longer an ancillary business function. It is firmly integrated into all aspects of a health care organization. The right EHR will benefit or hinder everyone.

To get the most out of a live vendor demonstration, it is critical to know the needs of your organization. That means creating a cross-functional steering committee to evaluate the needs of the organization within the framework of an EHR system. You will want to have a diverse group including those from administration, IT, nursing, as well as physicians.

The purpose of the group is to evaluate the needs of the hospital and how an EHR system would meet those needs. The group would take into consideration aspects such as budget, documentation, system integration, and effects on stakeholders such as patients, suppliers, staff, and so on.

Complete a Request for Proposal

Organizations that know what their needs are will be less likely to fall prey to mesmerizing sales presentations given by account executives. Any professional account executive selling a solid EHR system will give a good demonstration that makes their product appear like the right one for your organization. They all look good if you don’t know what you are looking for.

A request for proposal (RFP) will help the vendor identify what you are looking for in an EHR system, and how their product may or may not be able to meet those demands. It’s best to submit multiple RFPs to a short list of vendors in order to perform a comparison analysis. Include in your RFP a request for existing organizations using their EHR system. Try to make a site visit or at least speak with them on the phone about their overall experience.

Leveraging the Demonstration

When the vendor team arrives it is important to be patient with them and ask your questions at the end. It is critical to have as many members of the due diligence team there to view the live demonstration. Focus your questions on the specific needs of your facility and how the system benefits end users. Have a list of questions that touch on functionality, ease of use, implementation, cost of maintenance, training, scalability and support. Try not to get too focused on budgetary concerns and cost. This will hinder your ability to perform an honest evaluation.

After each demonstration you will want to bring the team together to gather the collective thoughts about the system. Along the way you will learn more about EHR systems and their capabilities. This may result in the group being able to provide a more sophisticated analysis of each vendor’s offering. You may want to consider bringing back an EHR vendor team to perform another demonstration.