Selecting the right EMR/EHR vendor can be a challenge. Understandably you want to at least comply with the medicaid EHR incentive program and ideally select an EMR/EHR that significantly improves your operations and patient care. It’s an important decision that will affect the efficiency and viability of your practice.
By following these simple best practices, you can craft an EHR RFP, or request for proposal, that helps select the best-fit EHR system for your organization. And regardless of the type of EHR software you’re selecting, whether it’s an ambulatory or inpatient EHR, an open source EHR or some other niche EHR technology, these EHR RFP steps are all applicable.
Step 1: Internally Compile and Prioritize EHR Requirements
Before you do an EHR implementation, you must identify your organizational requirements. These requirements include specific prices — you already have an estimated price for software and hardware — but now you need a summary of costs for items such as implementation, training and support.
Other requirements may be interoperability and customization. You should list which clinical data systems you already have in place, and how much customization you may need. Your data and patient security is of extreme importance, so make sure to focus your requirements in this area. This is especially important for hospitals, which oftentimes own the most sensitive patient data.
System scalability and functionality are also key requirements that should be mentioned in your EHR RFP. Your practice will ideally continue to grow, and you want to ensure the vendor you select can handle that growth.
Involve your internal stakeholders in prioritizing your electronic health records software requirements, which helps save you money and headaches down the road.
Step 2: Create the EHR RFP
After you’ve defined and prioritized your specific EHR solution requirements, integrate them into the EHR RFP. This ensures vendors respond to your detailed requirements, know exactly what you need and are precise when they draw up their proposals. A RFP should include a timeline showing important deadlines for various actions by the vendor; make sure your RFP is well organized and looks professional. If need be, look-up some RFP examples to get an idea of what your deliverable is.
Step 3: Shortlist and Solicit EHR Vendors
Once your EHR requirements have been imported into an EHR RFP template, select a shortlist of EHR systems, especially looking for certified EHR technology. Qualities to look for when deciding on your shortlist include overall impressions of professionalism, such as timeliness of response and transparency during initial contacts, whether the estimated costs are within your practice budget and what support the vendors offer. Check references to ensure they deliver the services they claim.
Submit the RFP to the selected vendors, and remember that using an RFP management tool to submit your requirements makes it easier for vendors to reply.
Step 4: Evaluate RFP Responses
Internal stakeholders involved in drawing up your health care practice’s requirements should come together to evaluate RFP responses. Use a standardized matrix to compare vendors, since this tool allows your team to weight certain requirement criteria and aggregate evaluators’ scores. The matrix may include EHR usability characteristics and functions such as clinical tasking and messaging, health record management, decision support, laboratory and results management, prescriptions and charting. Also ensure EHR vendors offer software that guarantees your practice complies with meaningful use principles.
Step 5: Request any Additional Vendor Information
Before selecting finalists for further evaluation, review the vendor applications to make sure you have all necessary information, and submit any final requests for additional information needed to help your decision. You don’t want to pass on a potentially excellent candidate just because you don’t have sufficient data.
Step 6: Post-Evaluation
Let your evaluation team undertake on-site visits, along with finalist vendors, to organizations that use the relevant software and match closely the size and configuration of your practice. You may also request vendors to provide proof of concept to further ensure their systems are suitable for your organization.
Once you’ve selected a vendor, you’ll negotiate a contract and definitive pricing and finally execute the agreed-upon contract with the vendor.
When choosing any type of health information technology, be it an EHR/EMR software or medical practice management system, SelectHub offers a formalized request for proposal process, including expertise and support to help you select the right vendor for your practice.