Electronic health records (EHRs) can revolutionize performance at a practice. They are also, of course, essential for practices seeking to meet Stage 1 and 2 meaningful use requirements. However, not all of these systems are equally useful. Some practices, particularly those that adopted EHRs early, may now need to update their systems for optimum usability and return on investment. Here are some considerations for practices unsure whether their EHRs could use replacing:

Do you still miss paper records?
Ideally, EHRs function so well that no one at the practice – or at least very few staff members – would seriously consider making the transition back to paper, according to Physicians Practice. EHRs are built to be convenient. However, if a practice using EHRs finds they require more work than paper records and would prefer to run data collection in an old-school style, something is probably wrong with the EHR. EHRs should give physicians and other staff members the ability to search patient records and automatically send prescriptions out to a pharmacy, and these tasks should be not only possible but easy to complete. If this isn't the case, the EHR needs an upgrade.

Is your EHR too expensive?
While there are significant expenses associated with adopting EHRs, it is still important to keep in mind that prices vary. An EHR that came with a large upfront cost and continues to charge hefty fees may not truly be worth it. Practices should review their financial health to determine what level of investment in EHRs would be desirable and proceed from there. It is important to work with a revenue cycle management company to get the maximum possible reimbursement from each procedure a practice performs, which will improve the bottom line and make a good but reasonably priced EHR system easy to obtain.

Do you want to switch?
This is really the most important question involved in switching EHRs. If most people at a practice are dissatisfied with some aspect of the EHR in use and really would rather use something else, it's probably time to switch. Small practices in particular often find their EHR experience doesn't fit their needs, according to research by Black Book Rankings. The company found 79 percent of providers who were switching EHRs felt their solutions didn't meet the needs of their practice. Fifty-four percent of those who said their EHR felt like it wasn't designed for them were physicians at small practices.