Get more than just the basics

Many Health IT experts and physicians themselves are under the impression that finding the right EHR for family practices is the easiest of the lot. They could not have been more wrong.

True, family medicine does not require extensive device integrations like a cardiologist. Neither does it need automated processes such as chemo or immunization management systems. However, being the most overworked and understaffed due to the high demand for this specialty; a family practitioner does not have the time to waste on substandard EHR softwares. Not only do they slow you down, you waste time in implementing these systems and then abandon them because you were better off on paper. Thus, caution in buying an EHR is as important for a family provider as for any other specialty.

This myth of using generic products has already led many of your counterparts to buy into free softwares with very basic functionality. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Family Medicine is leading the EHR replacement drive.

This guide has been designed to help you evaluate vendors and to ensure that you do not end up with a sub-standard solution.


Practice Size

Some software is better suited to small practices, others to larger ones. EHR software is designed for a certain number and type of user, with scalability in mind. Make sure the software you select is appropriate for the number of pediatricians in your practice.

[Also see: Genesis Internal Medicine's transition to EHR]

Systems Architecture

You can purchase EHR software that is installed directly on your computer servers on-site at your practice (“client-server”) or software that is located in the “cloud” that you access via the Internet (“cloud-based” or software-as-a-service - "SaaS"). Some physicians prefer client-server based EHR software since they feel more comfortable with HIPAA compliance when they control all the underlying data on their systems, despite the need to maintain and upgrade these systems periodically. Others choose cloud-based EHR software because it can be accessed almost anywhere through the Internet. However, you are reliant on your Internet connection, so you need to make sure the quality and consistency of your Internet service is high.

[Free download: Five Benefits of Cloud Computing in Healthcare]


When selecting your EHR, you should make sure that it is tested and certified by an ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Body (“ONC-ATCB”). The ONC (Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology) is the responsible agency for establishing EHR certification standards and certifying vendor EHR products. This is a prerequisite to obtaining MU Medicaid and Medicare incentives for adopting an EHR, and avoiding penalties for not adopting one.

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