Choosing the right EHR for your hospital

Choosing the right EHR system can be overwhelming due to the large amount of vendors and EHR systems available today.

"The requirements that [hospitals are] looking for are really critical in how you make your decision," said Michael Martz, vice president and CIO of Ohio Valley Health Services and Education in Wheeling, W.Va. "We wanted an EHR that would support what we had now, but we also needed something to really position us for the future."


Mr. Martz shared his thoughts on picking the right EHR for his health system during a panel at Becker's Hospital Review 5th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable on Nov. 8 in Chicago. Joining him were Jonathan Bush, CEO of Watertown, Mass.-based athenahealth, Stephen F. DePooter, vice president and CIO of Chicago-based Norweigen American Hospital, and John Cacciamani, MD, CEO of Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia.


When looking for a single unified EHR system, Mr. Martz hired a local university to conduct a formal comparison of Meditech 6 and Epic. He was surprised to discover more clinicians preferred the Meditech system over Epic, claiming the information was easier to find and required a lot less clicks than Epic. Physician preference, combined with greater affordability, motivated Mr. Martz to choose Meditech as the new EHR for his hospital system.


To choose an EHR system for Norweigen American Hospital's inpatient system, Mr. DePooter said he set up a governance structure including both clinicians and financial staff members, who will weigh the pros and cons of each system before ultimately making the final decision.


Mr. DePooter highlighted three main aspects hospital systems should consider when looking at EHR systems. "First and foremost, the system has to do the basic functions that an inpatient system will do," he said. After the basic functions are covered, a health system must consider the system's reporting capabilities from a data and quality perspective, as well as the amount of support offered with the EHR.


Mr. Cacciamani said the notion of a ubiquitous EHR system reaching across the whole health system hasn't paid dividends except in rare cases where the market is locked.

"Each system has to meet the needs of its essential customer," said Mr. Cacciamani. "At the end of the day, it's about cash". An EHR system should help achieve expense reduction control on the inpatient side and support good documentation on the outpatient side to ensure an efficient charge capture, he said.

"Healthcare isn’t a $3 trillion market — It's 15,000 $20 billion dollar markets," said Mr. Bush. "The EMR you need as an onco radiologist looks nothing like the EMR you need as a pediatrician or a gynecologist or a rehab physiologist."

Mr. Bush expects to see an explosion in EHR switchability in the future, citing an inflection point in the willingness and ability to connect care.

"The winning EHR systems will be the ones who can communicate information for everything from a televisit to a doctor's appointment to a trip to the clinic," he said. "These systems won't be on one giant computer system — they'll all be on a network that can communicate with one another."

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