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How to Select an EHR Provider (A Complete Step-by-Step Guide)

By: Nextech | March 12th, 2024

How to Select an EHR Provider (A Complete Step-by-Step Guide) Blog Feature

The right EHR is your fast pass to an efficient, scalable practice that delivers outstanding, engaging patient care.

Since the U.S. government’s EHR mandate was passed in 2016, there’s been a proliferation of tools on the market.

Unfortunately, not every tool serves every kind of practice equally well. The wrong EHR can be frustrating and difficult to use, defeating the entire purpose.

Avoid frustration by carefully assessing your options and choosing the right system for your needs.


Types of EHR Systems

6 Steps To Choosing An EHR System

Step 1: Choose Your Selection Committee

Step 2: Identify Your Practice’s Needs

Step 3: Research Ways an EHR Can Meet Those Needs

Step 4: Consider Total Cost of Ownership

Step 5: Scrutinize Vendors

Step 6: Implementation and Training

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Choosing An EHR System

Important Information About EHR Systems

Case Study: Pima Eye Institute Saved 10 Minutes Per Appointment


Types of EHR Systems

EHR systems can be classified by who they are for and how they are hosted.

Specialty-Specific vs. Generic EHRs

Specialty-specific EHRs are tailored for specific medical specialties.

An EHR created with your specialty in mind will need very little customization out of the box. The user interface will already be set up with the most relevant information. Common billing codes will be pre-loaded. You can immediately start tailoring the system to the finer points of your provider preferences.

Generic EHRs are intended to be used in any healthcare setting. They come loaded with lots of information, but much of it will be irrelevant to your specific practice. Customizing these systems is slower and takes more work.

EHR Hosting Models

Physician-hosted EHRs are hosted on-site on a server at your practice. This is the most expensive hosting model, typically reserved for hospitals and large health systems. It requires you to buy hardware and software, and your practice is responsible for maintaining the physical servers, data security, and data backups.

Remotely hosted EHRs are hosted on a remote server located off-site. This relieves you of having to buy and maintain the hardware, but you’re still responsible for your own data security.

Subsidized remote EHRs mean your data is stored on another practice’s server. For example, if a hospital provides EHR access to your practice, it’s a subsidized remote system. In this arrangement, your management costs are low, because the system is the responsibility of the organization that owns it. However, this can create issues over who owns the data and who has access to it.

Cloud-based EHRs are the best option for most practices. In a cloud-based system, the EHR vendor stores all your data on cloud servers, relieving you of virtually all IT costs and concerns around the EHR.

As your practice scales and your storage needs grow, the cloud scales with you. Cloud-based EHRs also have the greatest data security, in part because your practice’s data is available only through the vendor’s HIPAA-compliant platform.

6 Steps to Choosing an EHR System

Choosing an EHR for your practice is a big decision with a lot at stake. To make sure the system you choose will serve your needs now and in the future:

  1. Put together a selection committee
  2. Identify the practice’s needs
  3. Research EHR features
  4. Consider total cost of ownership
  5. Select a vendor
  6. Schedule implementation and ongoing training

Step 1: Choose Your Selection Committee

The selection committee will research the options and choose an EHR. This group of decision makers should include representatives from all areas of the practice.

Besides clinical staff, be sure to include clerical and administrative staff like scheduling and billing. Everyone in the practice will use the EHR, so every department should have a voice.

The selection committee will also be responsible for getting buy-in from their departments. Resistance to change is one of the top challenges in implementing any new technology. Include influential people others in the practice listen to (and remember, that’s not just the department heads).

Step 2: Identify Your Practice’s Needs

The next step in making sure you choose the right EHR is to clarify exactly what you need an EHR to do.


  • The data you need to track and access, and how easy it should be to find
  • The workflows of each department
  • Any bottlenecks in your current processes you need to correct

Once you’ve listed the requirements of your day-to-day needs, think bigger.

For example, you may only need to do compliance reporting once a year. But if your EHR is automatically tracking MIPS data, those reports will come together in no time.

Specialty-specific software already tailored to your general needs will typically have more of the features your staff wants to see.

Step 3: Research Ways an EHR Can Meet Those Needs

Identify which EHR features will give your practice what it needs. List all the features of your ideal tool, then rank them by importance.

Nextech EHRs offer customizable, modular solutions so you can choose the features most important to you. Our end-to-end software goes beyond clinical documentation, billing, and scheduling to offer tools like:

  • Integrated practice management
  • Telehealth
  • E-prescriptions
  • Device and lab integrations
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Revenue cycle management
  • Patient portal
  • Marketing
  • Inventory management

Step 4: Consider Total Cost of Ownership

Software price comparisons can be tricky. Don’t be taken in by a low up-front price, only to be billed on the back end for “extra” features you can’t live without.

Each vendor’s quote should include licensing and activation, implementation and training costs, software updates, and any additional costs such as premium features, data storage, or maintenance costs.

If implementation will require your practice to shut down while the system is installed, factor in the lost revenue from the closure.

Step 5: Scrutinize Vendors

When looking at a new purchase, it’s easy to get so caught up in features and costs, you forget to consider what it will be like to work with this vendor long term.

Avoid future pains by choosing a vendor with a reputation for excellent customer service. Look for 24/7 tech support provided by actual product experts.

Search for online reviews, case studies, and awards or certifications from third-party organizations to assess a company’s trustworthiness. Beware if reviews mention frequent crashes or glitchy performance.

Finally, you’re trusting your EHR partner with sensitive data about your patients and your business. Choose a cloud-based service with top-notch data security to keep your information secure.

When scheduling software demos, try to make sure everyone on the selection committee can participate. Score vendors on a matrix so you get an apples-to-apples comparison of the product and vendor features most important to you.

Step 6: Implementation and Training

Once you’ve decided on your top choice, make sure you’re 100% comfortable before signing on the dotted line.

Find out exactly what is involved in implementing the software:

  • How long it will take
  • How data migration will work
  • Whether the practice will have to close during implementation
  • How the system will integrate with existing software
  • The vendor plan for staff training, both initially and as ongoing training in the future

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing an EHR System

There are a lot of things to think about when choosing an EHR. Don’t let these common mistakes derail you.

Overlooking User Experience

You might choose an EHR with all the bells and whistles to make your staff’s lives easier. But if accessing those features involves long, complicated processes and dozens of tabs, they won’t be grateful.

During software demos, make careful note of the user interface and the user experience. The vendor rep demonstrating the software might move around quickly, but they’re deeply familiar with the platform. How hard will it be for your staff right out of training to do what they need to do?

Nextech offers the only true one-page EHR. Our streamlined platform puts everything your staff needs to see in a single, sleek interface, while more advanced tools are kept out of the way until you need them.

Choosing a Generic EHR

It might seem like a generalized EHR would have the most flexibility. Actually, these systems have more limitations than a specialty-specific system. In trying to serve everyone, they fall short of providing excellent service to anyone.

A specialty-specific solution is already tailored to the kind of workflows and health data your practice works with. You can easily tailor Nextech’s specialty-specific software to the unique needs and preferences of your practice and each of your providers, without reinventing the wheel.

Not Considering Integrations

Confirm your new EHR will integrate with any software it does not replace. You want built-in integrations, not custom APIs, to ensure data is shared between platforms in a way that is HIPAA compliant.

Choosing an Unsupportive Vendor

An EHR is a big system that has implications for everything your practice does. Make sure your vendor will be there to support you long after implementation ends.

At Nextech, we support our customers with clear, comprehensive, and ongoing training and with expert customer support reps based in the U.S. Thanks to our commitment to our customers, we have a 95% customer retention rate.

Nextech has been around since 1997, serves more than 16,000 physicians, and has been recognized with more than a dozen awards, including the prestigious KLAS award.

Not Planning for the Future

Planning to grow someday? Look for a platform that will grow with you. “Large practice” solutions might be overkill now, but an EHR specifically for small practices could hinder your future growth.

Look for a flexible, scalable platform that can serve you now and in the future.

Also think of any medical technology you want to eventually add. Want to grow telehealth? Monitor patients remotely? Incorporate AI? Prioritize EHR systems that fit your current needs and your future goals.

Important Information About EHR Systems

What Is an EHR?

EHR stands for electronic health record. It’s a comprehensive record of a patient’s entire medical history that can be shared between practices and updated by all providers on the patient’s care team.

EHRs have a number of benefits to practices, including:

  • Faster charting
  • Easier data tracking
  • Improved patient safety and outcomes
  • Easier collaboration with other providers
  • Streamlined practice management

As beneficial as they are, EHR platforms are not without their risks. Concerns include data security, data integrity, and user overwhelm. Nextech overcomes these challenges with robust security measures, a reliable data platform, a sleek, one-page charting interface, and integrated practice management.

Are EHR and EMR the Same?

No, though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

EHRs are electronic health records while EMRs are electronic medical records. Just as “health” is more comprehensive than “medicine,” EHRs are more comprehensive than EMRs.

The biggest difference is interoperability. EMRs are digital versions of paper charts. They are difficult to share outside a single practice, and outside providers can’t contribute to them.

EHRs, on the other hand, are designed for interoperability. Every member of a patient’s care team, no matter where they are based, can add information to the record.

Are EHRs Required for Regulatory Compliance?

Yes. The 21st Century Cures Act, passed in 2016, required healthcare providers to start sharing data electronically by 2024.

Providers who don’t comply with this mandate can suffer financial penalties, as well as being excluded from top Medicare reimbursements.

Your EHR should simplify and streamline compliance and reporting. Before implementing a solution, make sure it is HIPAA compliant and that you maintain ownership of your data.

How Do EHRs Improve Patient Care?

EHRs make it possible for providers to pay more attention to their patients and less to their charts. They also empower patients to play a more active role in their health.

EHRs offer:

  • Appointment scheduling and management
  • Telehealth
  • Online portals
  • Faster, easier payment
  • More quality time between patients and providers

How Do EHRs Improve Practice Profitability?

EHRs can help a practice become more profitable by streamlining workflows and improving efficiency.

A practice using an EHR can benefit from

  • Efficient processes
  • Reduced need for overtime
  • The ability to see more patients in a day
  • Improved ability to spot and take advantage of opportunities in the market

Case Study: Pima Eye Institute Saved 10 Minutes Per Appointment with Nextech’s EHR

Pima Eye Institute of Tucson, Arizona, is a cutting-edge medical practice that suffered from outdated administrative technology.

Pima’s old EHR and practice management software crashed frequently, and when it came back on, staff had to re-enter basic data.

After switching to Nextech, Pima Eye Institute saved 10 minutes of administrative work per appointment. Providers are able to see more patients every day, even though they are also spending more one-on-one time with each patient.

Read the full case study here.

Take the Time to Make an Informed EHR Choice

Your EHR will touch almost every process in your practice. The right EHR will make those processes smoother, easier, and more impactful.

Before choosing an EHR, take the time to figure out exactly what you need. Participate in vendor demos, and ask lots of questions about what happens before, during, and after implementation.

Check out these questions to ask as you evaluate your options. And when you’re ready, schedule a demo of Nextech’s renowned, user-friendly EHR.


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