Healthcare News & Insights

8 rules your EHR vendor should follow

Several recent reports show that a lot of healthcare organizations are getting fed up with their EHR systems and vendors. One industry group has laid out some ground rules that may help turn things around. 

92419672To help improve patient care through the use of electronic records, the HIMSS Electronic Health Record Association, a trade group representing more than 40 EHR vendors, has released a so-called Code of Conduct for EHR developers.

The document, which the EHR Association said improve safe care delivery via health IT,  covers areas such as:

  • Business practices
  • Patient safety
  • Data sharing
  • Documentation
  • Privacy and security, and
  • Patient engagement.

Farzad Mostashari, MD, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, said the code lines up with the federal government’s plan for promoting meaningful use of EHRs, Healthcare IT News reports.

The announcement of the guidelines came as several recent reports and studies have pointed out that doctors are becoming increasingly frustrated with EHR systems. Vendors are often blamed for those issues, with the most common complaints including:

  • The software is poorly designed and difficult to use
  • The system doesn’t interact or share data easily with other systems, and
  • Vendors don’t provide enough tech support.

What to look for

While the EHR Association’s Code of Conduct was written with software developers in mind, the principles laid out also give hospitals and other healthcare organizations a good idea of some of the key things to look for when evaluating EHR vendors.

Here are some of the key factors outlined in the document:

  1. Design and development — Vendors should be committed to building systems in ways that make them easy for healthcare employees to use, and they should design software according to recognized standards and guidelines.
  2. Patient safety — EHR developers must work with Patient Safety Organizations or other recognized bodies to stay up to date on issues regarding patient safety and health IT. Vendors must also quickly notify customers as soon as they become aware of an issue with the system that could affect patient safety, and allow customers to voice their concerns over those issues.
  3. Support and guidance — Vendors should share with customers best practices regarding the safe deployment, implementation, use and maintenance of their products.
  4. Interoperability — Systems should allow healthcare providers to share data with other organizations, even those using software from different vendors. Software should be able to share information using standards-based technology, to the greatest extent possible. Vendors should also share best practices on deploying technology to aid in information sharing.
  5. Switching systems — Vendors should be willing to work with organizations to help them export records and other information to a new system if they decide to change software providers.
  6. Clinical and billing documentation — Systems should support customers’ needs to keep accurate records of all the care that is provided, and vendors should provide information regarding their systems’ approaches to clinical documentation.
  7. Patient engagement — Although patients and their families aren’t EHR vendors’ direct customers, vendors should design systems and overall business practices in ways to get those parties more involved in their health care.
  8. Privacy and security — Vendors should be committed to developing software that protects patients’ sensitive health information. And companies that directly handle that information — for example, cloud-based EHR vendors — should make sure they’re taking steps to protect patient privacy.

Vendor support expected

Now that the document has been released, it’s up to vendors to begin adopting those principles. The EHR Association is looking for support from all vendors, whether or not they’re members of the organizations, and Mostashari said he expects many companies will adopt the code soon.

Are there any additional codes of conduct for EHR vendors you would like to see in that list? Let us know what they are in the comments section below.

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