Electronic health record buyer's remorse

March 25, 2011

Learn how to handle the decision to buy an electronic health records system.

Q: A persistent electronic health record (EHR) system salesperson wined and dined me extensively, told me that his system would have a guaranteed 3-month transition, and that I would not regret my decision to go with his company. I was very convinced, so I signed the contract. It has been a nightmare! The company has been horrible, inefficient, difficult to contact when needed, and then only wants more money. We have been treated poorly and taken advantage of. Where can I get help or report this problem?

A: Unfortunately I fear the horse is out of the barn! Your experience during the sales process is fairly typical when a structured process is not in place. "Wining and dining" helps the salesperson establish a relationship with the buyer, and in many vendor encounters, that relationship is your base to facilitate assistance when all does not go smoothly.

Structure during the sales process should include, but is not limited to:

Getting an attorney involved before you sign a purchase agreement also will provide protection for you around the deliverables and keep the vendor engaged in the process when service disruptions occur. If you had an attorney assist you in the process, you would clearly have someone to call at this stage.

It may not be too late to get an attorney's help. It also may not be too late to resolve your issues with your vendor. If your salesperson is unavailable or unresponsive, contact the vendor's medical director. Approach the discussion reasonably with a solution that allows you to move forward with the system. Understand that you may very well have under-spent when you purchased your system. Sometimes in the interest of keeping the acquisition price within the purchaser's budget, the sale is scaled down and may not include all the components or even the essential training required for a successful implementation.

If you are absolutely past the point of making the new system work for you, an attorney can better advise you on financial recourse.

However, you may be better off cutting your losses, attributing the dollars (and hours) spent as an investment in your business education, and returning to your previous EHR. Not the rescue rope you wanted to harness that horse back into the barn.

Answers to readers' questions were provided by A. Michael La Penna, The La Penna Group Inc., Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Rosemarie Nelson, Medical Group Management Association Healthcare Consulting Group, Jamesville, New York. Send your practice management questions tomedec@advanstar.com
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