Since the initial setup cost is the biggest hurdle in EMR adoption, most vendors tend to market their product accordingly. There has been an increasing trend amongst EMR vendors to provide contractual support to clients, eliminating the need for in-house IT experts. Bespoke EMRs are slowly being phased out as customizable solutions are available off the shelf. While this concept is more popular with the software as a service (SaaS) model, it is not restricted to it. ’We obviously would consider support. It is one of the main components that constitute the whole product,’ says one practice manager looking to adopt an EMR this year.
Keith Smith, a Health IT consultant explains that the routine use of EMR warrants quality support, ’It is going to be in use throughout the shift and there is a good chance something can go wrong. This is where good EMR support can truly make a difference.’ He adds that, while most EMR vendors tend to start out good, quality of support tends to decline with rapidly increasing user base. ’Most providers today will complain that their calls do not go through or that their vendor support is based outside the country, often creating communication problems and frustration amongst medical staff.’
It is always wise to incorporate support questions when selecting an EMR product. Keith points out the few integral areas a user must examine before contracting the vendor.
Location and Language: Local support teams are usually easier to interact with as there are no language barriers or accents to get through. However, locality doesn’t necessarily determine the quality of support and it is highly plausible to train a foreign support team with a neutral accent and language fluency.
Team Size: It is imperative that the EMR vendor realizes the importance of support and expands accordingly. With larger user groups, support quality can decline and cause response delays, which can be extremely frustrating especially while tending to patients.
Product Knowledge: A well trained and skilled team can significantly improve the experience. Knowledgeable support staff with years of experience can quickly resolve issues and save the provider’s time and cost.
Timing: Emergencies require special attention and if the practice is open at odd hours, it needs to ensure that the EMR vendor is able to provide support during that time frame.
Consequently, support issues can significantly affect the organizational performance, which is why it is integral to choose an EMR vendor with a reliable support team.