Ask the Expert: How Can I Conduct an Effective EHR Demonstration?

Selecting a health IT vendor for your EHR implementation can be daunting. HIMSS has developed a list of Q&As to help you select your vendor partner.

Q: How can I manage the vendor demonstration process?

Think about how the information should flow. What is the workflow of your practice? Does it start with an appointment, move to the visit and end with charges? You can then create an outline for the order the various elements of the system must follow. "Scorecards" can be distributed to the practice team so they can rate each section of the vendor demonstration. This facilitates comparisons and eliminates positive or negative bias created by the salesperson's personality or presentation delivery.

Q: Is it appropriate to ask vendors to present demos tailored to specific scenarios that my practice faces?

There are areas of each practice's business that may be difficult to chart using an Electronic Health Record (EHR). You could pull out patient de-identified data and make some anonymous charts for "difficult" cases, send them to the vendor and then ask the vendor to walk through those exact cases using the EHR System or module under review. This facilitates comparisons of how each vendor's product handled the exact same scenario.

Q: How can I help to identify "hidden" add-ons to vendor packages?

Now that the Meaningful Use Stages 1 and 2 have been published, ask the vendor to demonstrate how the Core and Menu Set Objectives can be met using their product. Some vendors may require the buyer to purchase additional products or modules (at an additional cost) to meet MU parameters. Patient portals are an example of this kind of hidden add-on.

Q: Can I request that a vendor perform demonstrations of certain functions?

Yes. If a vendor's product cannot address a difficult but essential requirement, the vendor may indicate that, with "small modifications" or "customizations," the product will do what's required. If the practice has a need that is absolutely essential to the business, it is appropriate to request to see this function "in action", either in a demonstration or at another client site.

Q: Are there other ways to get feedback on vendors and their systems/modules?

You can request each vendor identify the strengths of their product and how/why it meets the needs of your practice as compared to other products or vendors. For example, you could ask - from the vendor's perspective - what difficult questions should be raised with its competition.

Many vendors have active user groups run by existing vendor clients in partnership with the vendors. Discuss with your vendor the possibility of meeting with members of their user group who may have a similar practice focus/specialty as yours.

Ask the vendor for a list of reference customers that you can contact and arrange for a site visit to observe the system in a live working environment.

Additional Resources:

Meaningful Use, EP, Ambulatory Practice, Medical Practice, Eligible Professional, Eligible Provider