Physical Therapy EMR Selection | Making the Most of the Demo

Buying a new physical therapy EMR either to automate current manual processes or as a replacement for the current software is certainly a significant decision that cannot be taken lightly. When it comes to making informed decisions during the EMR selection process, the vendor demo remains front and center. The goal of the demo is to try and assess the overall fitment of the EMR software for the rehab therapy practice and determine how well it could function in a real-world environment with unique processes and exceptions to the rule. Not an easy task to accomplish by any stretch! Impossible, some might add. Suffice it to say that detail and nuance are clearly crucial when it comes to the demo. When practices share information about their needs ahead of the demo and enable the vendor to try and tailor the demo to address specific practice requirements, the demo becomes so much more meaningful. Here are some steps that should help make the process more effective and the time well spent.

Create the EMR Demo Team

Forming the demo team should come first. The team should be chartered with the responsibility of implementing the best fit product, start to finish. It should ideally have representation across various functional areas including the front desk, clinicians, billers, office managers, and clinic owner(s).

Collate Practice Needs

The next step should be to identify and prioritize practice needs across functional areas including intake and scheduling, care delivery and documentation, billing and collections, patient payments, referral management, and so on. Classifying the list of needs into high, medium, and low priority requirements should provide a good baseline for the initiative.

Prepare EMR Selection Matrix

Based on the needs assessment, the next step should be to prepare an EMR scoring matrix to rank competing products. This should ideally be a detailed list of attribute groups, individual attributes, and attribute weights that denote their priority. Factors could include:
  • Fit with practice needs (high, medium, low)
  • EMR functionality and performance
  • Ease of use and graphical interface
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Pricing and terms of payment

Shortlist EMR Vendors for The Demo

Based on publicly available information and reviews, preparing a shortlist of vendors to invite for demos would be the next item on the agenda. To avoid being overly influenced by brand names and marketing, it might be helpful to probe deeper to prepare this list.

Attend EMR Vendor Demos

The actual vendor demo should provide an excellent opportunity to understand the EMR product in some depth. The idea should be to engage the vendor team and challenge them to demonstrate how they meet the practice?s specific needs. A checklist of what you would like to see in the demo (EMR Selection Matrix) should provide a useful reference for the demo. What would help would be a customized, scripted demo that is aligned with the needs of your practice where the vendor demonstrates how they address factors that are important for you. The best results should come from guiding the demo process yourself rather than letting the vendor control the flow of information! Vendors should be open to taking all questions during the demo. If they don?t take all questions or ignore some questions, this may be a warning sign of how conversations with that vendor could take place in the future. The demo should offer clues as to how a future partnership with the vendor could unfold.

Evaluate Vendor Demos

At this point, the demo team should go back to the EMR scoring matrix to score each vendor on multiple attributes. This could be done on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 representing poor performance and 5 representing excellent performance. Getting a weighted average score for each vendor will provide a useful data point for the final decision.

Talk to Vendor Representatives

However, numbers are clearly only half the story. Talking to the vendor?s team members outside the demo environment should provide additional valuable insight into how strong a team they have and how committed they will be to ensure your success. Buying an EMR is not an easy process. Without careful planning, it would be possible to get blindsided by the vendor?s marketing and sales prowess! A neutral, unbiased selection process offers the way out. The right selection should lead to a win-win partnership that drives the practice?s growth and success.