Searching for the right electronic health record (EHR) as a small behavioral health agency can feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack. There’s no shortage of solutions out there, but many offer too much or too little for your agency’s needs. You also need to consider financial costs, the time and productivity lost during implementation and whether or not an EHR can grow with you over time.
So how do you find a solution that’s “just right” for your size?
There are no easy shortcuts to the process. But, there are principles to keep in mind that will empower your search and help you make an informed decision. You’ll learn all about these when you view our recent webinar on the subject.
We take a deep dive into the major considerations you need to make an informed decision, and how you can avoid going too big or too small with your EHR choice. You’ll also hear first-hand accounts and advice on the search and implementation process from a small agency whose challenges likely resemble yours. In the meantime, though, here are a few key points to get you started.
Define Your Wants and Needs
It’s tempting to want all the bells and whistles that large EHR vendors may provide. It’s important to remember, however, that these features come at a price. Going “too big” with your choice of EHR can leave you with excess costs and unnecessary functionality you’ll never use. The money and time wasted here can be a recipe for disaster.
Going “too small” with your choice of EHR can be equally damaging. Agencies often opt for small EHR solutions due to the lower costs. But while you might save money with small solutions, they can leave you without essential functionality or the ability to expand your services.
To find the fit that’s “just right,” you have to consider your agency’s needs. What are the essential tools you need to provide better care and simplify your workflows? Likewise, consider which tools are simply nice to have: those that may add convenience or save a bit of time, but can you live without them? Prioritizing your needs before embarking on your search is time well spent.
Evaluate Vendors With the Right Criteria
When evaluating vendors, remember that behavioral healthcare is a specialized field that makes specific demands on your agency’s workflows and technology. An EHR that’s not designed and tailored to the needs of behavioral healthcare may not be capable of easy compliance with the industry’s regulations. And while a lot of software offers great functionality, it may not be the functionality you need as a behavioral healthcare provider. This is why finding a vendor with a focus on behavioral health software is so important.
Vendor evaluation extends beyond software. In particular, relationships are crucial. Consider a vendor’s history, its financial stability, and whether or not it can offer timely and robust support when you need help implementing the new EHR system or training staff in its use. You can have the greatest EHR in the world, but if your team lacks support or faces roadblocks every time they need assistance, it will cause headaches and wasted time down the road.
Give Your Agency Room to Grow
An EHR upgrade is not a one-and-done event. Rather, it’s a process that involves ongoing maintenance, updates and new demands which require new solutions. And just as behavioral healthcare demands new capabilities and compliance of your EHR, your agency’s workflows and needs will also shift as you grow. Be sure that your EHR offers the flexibility to account for these changes easily.
This is where a cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution comes in handy. In a SaaS model, agencies pay to access a secure, regularly updated online EHR. This model largely eliminates the need for new equipment and ongoing maintenance on your end. The quick implementation and regular updates of these Cloud-based solutions can save massive amounts of time and money and prepare your agency to accommodate new needs easily.
Accounting for growth comes back to your needs as an agency. Just because you don’t require a given functionality today doesn’t mean it won’t be necessary tomorrow. Consider how your agency may expand your programs and services and the tools you may need to accommodate those changes. This kind of planning is a key ingredient to finding EHR that’s “just right.”
Be sure to view the webinar today for more essential tips. You’ll also want to download our free 2021 Behavioral Health EHR Buyer’s Guide, which is packed with expert guidance and tips you need to simplify every step of the search process and find the perfect EHR for your agency.
If you have any questions about the EHR search process, please feel free to contact us. You can also learn about our industry-leading EHR solutions for small behavioral healthcare agencies, or request a custom demo for your agency’s needs.