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Buying or upgrading software usually involves hearing terms or buzzwords that are (according to a sales rep) “exactly what you need.” But how do you know? For instance, one EHR boasts of being customizable, and another is configurable. Aren’t they the same thing? Which is better?

Both terms mean the software can be changed to meet your needs. The major differences are “behind the curtain”, but make a huge difference in how you interact with your EHR as well as your EHR provider.

Let’s do a quick run-through of each type of software so you can decide which fits your needs the best.

Customizable

An easy way to think of customizable software is like a house made of Lincoln Logs®: You can build it to your own specifications and get something that meets your needs, but changes to the structure may require a complete rebuild. This is because each component of the software is directly dependent on other components, so changing or adding one capability may affect the entire system.

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Customizations in this type of software require deep engineering expertise and time, costing you money. And because customizable systems are so inter-dependent and personalized, it is virtually impossible to make changes across a wide range of users who may require the same change.

As technology evolves, your EHR customizations may not be scalable to accept new technology. This means one aspect of your software may not be able to communicate with another, requiring you to enter the same information in different fields numerous times.

To break it down in simpler terms, we came up with short and sweet pros and cons:

Customizable Pros

  • Built for your needs
  • Adaptable

Customizable Cons

  • Changes may require reconstructing aspects of entire software
  • Customization become costly and time-consuming
  • Customizations for universal requirements must me done on an individual basis

 

Configurable

If customizable software is made of Lincoln Logs, configurable software is made of Legos®: adding new features doesn’t require deconstruction of the entire structure, as the building parts are designed for adaptability.

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Configurable software is built in stand-alone parts that work together. If you want another feature (or you need to conform to a certain Medicaid update), adaptations are simple and sustainable. To use the Lego analogy, if you want a window, there’s no need to break down the entire structure. Configurable software is easier to adapt, making changes faster and cheaper than customizable software.

But quick and easy adaptations are not the greatest draw to configurable software. The greatest asset is its sustainability through growth and change. Because each component of configurable software is independent, adding components doesn’t slow down or complicate the experience. Even through the evolution of new technologies, the user experience will continue to be easy and streamlined.

Configurable Pros

  • Built for your needs
  • Adaptable
  • Configurations likely to cost less than customizations
  • Configurations likely to take less time than customizations
  • Configurations are sustainable through changes in technology

Configurable Cons

  • Requires a change in your EHR system

To give credit where credit is due, customizable software was completely revolutionary when it came out. It was the go-to tech buzzword when software was static; it meant change was possible. Now, however, configuration is the present and future of software; it enables software that changes with your organization, your requirements, and the technological advances of our age.

Is your practice thinking about making the switch? Valant offers a comprehensive EHR software suite for private behavioral health practices. Click the button below to learn more!

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