“Look, EHR system vendor, we’ve had some fun times, but we’ve also had plenty of frustrating ones. I just think it’s generally best if we go our separate ways. It’s not you; it’s me.
“Actually, no, wait, it is you. You’re awful.”
If this sounds like your ideal “Dear John” letter to your EHR system software vendor, then maybe it truly is time to cut ties and look for a partner who can fulfill your needs better. Do not even bother suggesting “can’t we just be friends?” because your time and money is worth more than humoring someone who should have provided better service in the first place.
Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. InformationWeek reports that 40 percent of providers want to make an EHR switch in the near future and 50 percent of all large hospitals are expected to have replaced their current EHR system by 2016. Clearly, breaking up is not that hard to do.
To help you know whether or not now is the time to call it quits and go for an EHR switch, here are four warning signs that your relationship with your EHR vendor partner may now be — in the immortal words of Woody Allen — a dead shark.
They Won’t Listen to Your Needs
Sometimes, it can feel like you are giving a relationship your all and getting nothing in return. Partnerships are all about give-and-take, and if all your vendor is doing seems to be taking a lot and giving as little as possible, you have a massive red flag on your hands.
Case in point, if you have made a request to modify your service plan, customize your software or have them meet you halfway in some other fashion and their response was less than satisfactory, dump them and then find someone else.
They’re Never There When You Need Them
Having problems with your EHR on a consistent basis is not inevitably a bad thing, but having an EHR vendor unwilling to provide the needed level of support is. EHR systems are still relatively young in the scheme of software and technology, and adoption rates have been gradual. These two factors combined mean that many providers will feel out-of-their-depth when trying to grapple with their EHR systems, no matter how tech-savvy they feel in other contexts.
Because of this factor, support should be available at any time, and the best EHR system vendors are willing to send someone out to personally look at your system and help you fix any hiccups that are preventing you from being able to do your job. If not, it’s time for an EHR switch.
Look for a vendor partner that can come to your rescue in this way. You deserve as much.
They Don’t Admit Their Flaws
Going back to the first point, making adjustments to fit your needs is one thing, but addressing glaring issues should be a given. Providers that encounter issues, especially ones that disrupt business and potentially affect outcomes, should receive some form of compensation for their trouble — even if it’s just a sincere apology. Doing so is just good business on the part of the EHR vendor, and it helps resolve issues quickly.
Yet, some top EHR vendors refuse to recognize when they have caused problems or failed to live up to their end of the bargain. Whereas in human relationships this may mean a few dirty dishes, when it comes to business partnerships it can mean that their own shortcomings end up reflecting poorly on your brand.
If you find yourself squabbling over small details when your EHR vendor should be mature and present solutions rather than denying problems, it’s time for them to come home and find all their stuff strewn on the lawn.
They’re Out of Touch with the Real World
The software industry moves fast. Products that looked slick a few years ago can feel more dated than a Max Headroom reference shortly thereafter.
For EHR systems, this reality can mean that something that met your needs at one point may not be the best solution now. Providers who switch generally report attaining new levels of functionality, usability and productivity as a result, according to HealthLeaders Media.
Making an EHR Switch Is Easier Than Getting a Date on Tinder
If you are feeling doubtful or agnostic about your relationship with your EHR vendor in any way, there is no reason to be shy about making an EHR switch. There are plenty of solutions out there, with more becoming available by the week.
Read up on reviews, assess your needs and try to find a replacement that improves in all of the areas your former EHR vendor was lacking. You may feel guilty at first, but realize that the decision is likely best for the both of you.
Alex Tate is a health IT Consultant at CureMD who provides perceptive, engaging and informative content on industry wide topics including EHR, EMR, practice management and compliance.