If there is one single piece of software that’s going to influence the future financial success of your practice, it’s going to be your electronic health record (EHR) system. However, more important than your financial success, your EHR system is going to have an enormous impact on a doctor’s future happiness as well. The future of medicine is going to be driven by the data in an EHR system and so it behooves every physician, medical provider and practice manager to ensure that their EHR system is everything they need it to be.
One of the best ways you can evaluate where your EHR system is headed is to attend your EHR vendor’s user conference. At an EHR system user conference you get to hear directly from the company’s executive team and product owners. While CEO keynotes at these events can include some puffery, most of them aren’t afraid to point out their company’s weaknesses and talk about where they plan to take the company in the future. Most realize that they can’t hide their weaknesses from their end users, so they speak about them openly. However, even if they don’t spout these details from the keynote rostrum, you can still learn quite a bit while interacting with the EHR company’s executives over lunch, in the hallways or at the evening parties.
While it’s great to hear about the success and challenges your EHR vendor faces, it’s just as important to make note of what your EHR vendor is planning to do to solve these problems. The user conference is full of great insight into how your EHR vendor thinks and how they work to address problems (or not address problems in some cases).
On top of understanding where your EHR vendor is headed broadly, every physician I know has a laundry list of problems they’d like addressed. I’ve seen over and over where a physician has resolved an EHR system problem at a user conference. Sometimes this comes through their interactions with the EHR vendor staff, but more often it comes from their interactions with other EHR users.
In fact, the best reason a physician should attend an EHR system user conference is to mix and mingle with as many other users as possible. Sometimes they’re able to help you resolve a pressing issue. Other times, they’re a great contact you can use in the future to solve an issue. In other cases, they help you resolve a challenge you’re having in your practice that has almost nothing to do with the EHR system itself. It’s hard to overstate the value that connecting with other “in the trenches” medical people can have on your clinic.
I realize that many physicians find it difficult to leave their practice where the practice doesn’t make money when they’re not seeing patients. However, that’s a short-sited view of the value you can get from attending an EHR system user conference. If someone teaches you a trick which helps you find one more patient a week, it will be worth your time. If you find a technique that saves you 15 minutes a week in improved productivity, it will be well worth your time to attend.
The most satisfied EHR system users I know are deeply involved with their EHR vendor and help to shape the future of the system. One of the best ways you can stay involved is to invest in the future of your practice by attending your EHR system user conference, and I hope to see you all at EMA Nation 2014 in Orlando this November.