How good is your EHR vendor at troubleshooting problems?

August 23, 2006

Help desks suffer from understaffing, undertraining, and bad attitudes

Help desks suffer from understaffing, undertraining, and bad attitudes

Software help desks are not created equal, as evidenced by a recent study of 10 EHR programs for small practices conducted by KLAS Enterprises, a research firm in Orem, UT. Scores for the quality of telephone and web support ranged from slightly above average to good.

What makes a help desk truly helpful? “A fast and reliable response is key,” says KLAS research analyst Brooke Spendlove. Ideally, the vendor should respond to emergencies within a few hours, says Spendlove. At the very least, that means acknowledging the receipt of a phone call or e-mail, although fixing the problem immediately is even better. A good vendor also will assign your SOS a ticket number and allow you to track its disposition at its website.

Slowpoke responses, in contrast, are a symptom of an understaffed help desk. Then there’s the quality of the response. Due to insufficient training and high turnover, help desk personnel may not be knowledgeable, and the worst sort talk to your staff like computer snobs and shirk responsibility for software flaws.

EHR shoppers should scope out the caliber of a vendor’s technical support when they talk to other practices that use its software. Pose your questions to someone who’s actually in a position to render a judgment, notes computer consultant Rosemarie Nelson in Syracuse, NY. “Doctors generally aren’t calling the help desk,” says Nelson. “Staffers are doing that.”

The lowdown on EHR help desks

Vendor and product

Telephone/web support quality (1 to 9)

eClinicalWorks

8.1

Misys EMR

7.5

MediNotes Charting Plus

7.5

e-MDs Chart

7.4

GE Centricity

7.4

Greenway Medical PrimeSuite

7.3

Allscripts HealthMatics EHR

7.2

NextGen EMR

7.1

Emdeon Intergy EHR

6.7

Practice Partner Patient Records

6.1

Source: Ambulatory EMR, 1-5 Physicians, A Study on Electronic Medical Records, published by KLAS Enterprises