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Communication with your EHR provider is important for the health of your practice, especially if practice growth is your goal. Your EHR can facilitate practice growth in many ways, but only if it meets your specific needs. When your EHR provider understands those needs, they are better able to provide you with the optimal experience. And your practice is in a better position to partner with your EHR.

The relationship between a practice and an EHR provider can be mutually beneficial. In learning more about how you use the software and what you want it to do, the provider gains a clearer understanding of their software’s strengths and weaknesses for behavioral health providers. This helps them continue to improve their software in a way that will benefit all of their customers—not just your practice.

Here’s how to partner with your EHR provider to maximize your software experience.

Clear Communication Channels

Be up front about wanting a partnership with your EHR company, so that your intentions are clearly known. You can obviously do this at the outset with a new EHR vendor, but it’s never too late to approach an existing vendor with the request for a closer partnership.

It’s helpful to share your plans for practice growth at the outset, so your vendor will have a vested interest in meeting your needs to make that growth a reality.

Establish channels for regular communication, such as periodic meetings with the vendor. Feedback sessions to highlight which software features work well and which don’t; and identifying a designated point of contact at your vendor company to handle concerns and help you optimize system usage.

Articulate Your Needs

Your EHR vendor needs specifics regarding your unique needs and expectations for the software. This will help them offer a more tailored solution that is more effective for your practice. Remember, your vendor can try to anticipate your needs, but only you as the end user can truly see how well the solution works.

Show up on your vendor’s radar early and often with feedback, and make sure that feedback is meaningful and constructive. Let them know what functionality works well and what problems you have. Consider volunteering as a beta tester. Providing value by testing features will ensure that your voice is heard.

Collaborative System Customization

Customizing features to suit your practice must be done in close collaboration with your vendor. Customization shows up in many forms in an EHR: personalized templates, special reports, workflow optimizations, documentation requirements, and other tailored features.

Many vendors will be excited to work with you on shaping these features to meet your specific needs. Go into the conversation with a specific list of needs and a willingness to learn about new software features. Balance your need for customization; consider that some best practices may already be built into the system.

Proactive Problem Solving

A few bugs are inevitable when working with software. An established partnership with your EHR vendor will allow the problems to be addressed more quickly and resolved to a higher degree of satisfaction.

Too many providers simply grit their teeth and “power through” issues with the software, rather than reaching out to explore solutions hand in hand with their vendor. Instead, take a proactive approach.

This is where an established point of contact at the vendor comes in handy. Make sure your vendor has given you contact information for a person or team that you can contact immediately with problems, and who will feel ownership over solving them with you. This person or team should be highly responsive to issues. If they aren’t, and problems frequently languish without being addressed, you might want to consider switching vendors. An unresponsive team can be a sign that they don’t have the bandwidth to be a true partner to your practice.

Partner with Your EHR for Training and Support

Training and support from your vendor is a lynchpin in the partnership because it empowers you to optimize your use of the system. An EHR can offer fantastic features that will meet your practice’s needs, but if you don’t understand how to use them, they become useless.

Talk with your EHR vendor about comprehensive training for staff members. Once training comes to an end, your vendor should offer ongoing support and resources. Your staff won’t learn everything about the new software all at once, so ongoing support is needed to make sure you get the most out of the EHR.

Leverage New Features for Practice Growth

If growth is your goal, be proactive about learning new EHR features.

Your vendor is likely developing new features based on feedback from customers in an attempt to improve their product. New features may enhance patient engagement, streamline tasks, improve overall service quality, and more. These upgrades can make your work faster and better, so invest time in learning about them. This is something you might want to discuss with your vendor in your regular meetings.

Invest In a Partnership

When you partner with your EHR, it has the potential to make your work easier and help you reach your goals for growth.

Keep the lines of communication open and find ways to touch base with your vendor on a regular basis. Scheduled meetings, beta testing, and ongoing support are opportunities to express your needs and provide feedback on the software and its functionality.

When you invest in the time in a strong partnership, you will see improved patient outcomes, streamlined workflows, and an enhanced practice reputation. Proactively engage with your EHR provider to maximize your potential for growth.