This is the most common question that people ask us. While we appreciate that everyone wants to come to a conclusion as quickly and as cheaply as possible, there is no easy answer to this question. We're familiar with many small practices that have simply bought the product that looked the best, or was ranked the best, and subsequently have changed products more than once. We strongly advise healthcare organizations to spend the time up front to analyze their needs, identify their goals, complete a gap analysis, and develop a plan that involves all stakeholders to get from where they are to where they want to be. Though it may feel like it's more costly, it is far less expensive overall to plan at the beginning and not be forced to change EHRs or implement inefficient workflows and work arounds.
Should I buy an EHR to get incentive money?
While the hope was that this would be a no-brainer and every provider would say "Of course!", strategically it requires some thought. If you are already planning to implement an EHR for other reasons, then this is certainly a reason to continue with the implementation. However, if you haven't already decided to implement an EHR, then there are key questions that you should consider.
At the highest level you need to weigh the cost versus the benefit. What are your costs of EHR purchase, EHR operations, compliance to get the incentives and survive the audits, and reduced productivity? What are the benefits of incentives, no penalties, better patient care, and improved productivity (e.g. prescription refills)? Yes, you will likely find that some aspects of productivity are improved and some are reduced. These do not represent a comprehensive list of the cost and benefit considerations, only a sampling of each to demonstrate a process for making your assessment. You should also consider how the EHR products will change and improve over time, which may make the products, their implementation, and support processes easier for you in the future if you decide to wait.