The Internet’s a wonderful place, a place where you can find just about anything your heart desires—from the recipe for your favorite restaurant’s puttanesca to step-by-step directions on how to go green in your clinic. It’s also where you can find information about the products you need to keep your business running smoothly, including information about electronic medical records (EMRs). Here are five questions to ask when evaluating an EMR company:
1. What are people saying about the company?
While you certainly shouldn’t believe everything you read online, you can use a few good Google searches to give yourself an idea of what people think about your potential vendor (partner, if you choose the right one). Pay attention, of course, to information about the product—features, tools, services—but also note how people are writing about the company itself as well as its executive team and their interactions.
Not sure where to start your search? Try a few basic keyword searches, like “physical therapy EMR” and “PT software.” Companies that show up at or near the top of the list are usually pretty popular. They typically get a lot of traffic—and customers—which means they’re doing something right.
2. What’s the company’s focus?
Understanding who the company is aiming to serve (e.g., rehab therapists, chiropractors, physicians, the medical professional kitchen sink) is incredibly important because with that knowledge, you’ll be able to predict where the company is heading. You are, after all, looking for a long-term partner that’s going to help you be better in business, right? So you need an EMR that’s designed for you—one that has unique industry- and speciality-specific knowledge, one that’s going to adapt to meet your needs as they change and grow over time. And with the way documentation legislation is heading (think: PQRS, functional limitation reporting, ICD-10), there’s bound to be a lot more change ahead.
3. Is the company in beta?
When a software company is beta testing, it’s asking consumers to use its product and provide feedback, which can benefit both the company and the consumer. However, there’s also a significant amount of uncertainty for the user in this type of arrangement. After all, the company may not ever make it out of beta and that means starting over anew.
If you’re considering a company in beta, be sure to find out how long they’ve been there, because anything more than five months can mean that the product isn’t well received and/or there are bugs and system issues.
4. How much is the company growing?
When shopping for EMRs, consider the company’s growth rate—internal and external. Pay attention to the size of the company, how many employees it has, and what those employees’ roles are. A company with one or two people who do both sales and customer service, for example, is a red flag; either the company can’t afford to hire more staff or doesn’t need to because of a small customer-base. And the last thing you want as a new user is getting a busy signal when you have a question.
Also consider how long the company has been on the market and the number of customers it serves. Remember, longevity doesn’t necessarily mean that the company offers a good product, but a large number of customers, increasing year after year, probably does.
Speaking of growth, it’s also important to consider a company’s customer retention rate—that is how many users remain year-over-year or month-over-month compared to those who leave. Here’s a hint: A ratio higher than 90% is good; anything over 95% is excellent.
5. Does the company appear solvent?
A solvent company (one that has assets in excess of liabilities and is able to pay its debts) can afford to spend money where it matters, like on developing new features and services or ramping up marketing efforts to bring in new business. Can you find company press releases online announcing the roll-out of new products and features? Have you seen company advertisements in local periodicals and sponsorships at rehab therapy events? Take a look at the company’s website. Is it professional? Does it include high-quality content, like educational webinars and blog posts? While appearances definitely aren’t everything, it’s always a good sign when a company presents itself well online and off.
There you have it: five questions to answer when evaluating an EMR company. While most of this information is available online, you can also give your potential EMR company a call to fill in any gaps. What else do you think is important to consider? Tell us in the comments below.