EHR Only or Combined PM + EHR System?

Practice Specific Considerations

#1) Do I like my current practice management/billing system or company?

Changing practice management systems is time consuming and will usually temporarily disrupt cash flow. If you like your current system it may not be worth the headache. Also, many combined systems started as either an EHR or a PM system and often the product is much stronger in one than the other, based on its origin. So if you’re moving to a combined system that started as an EHR, you may lose some of your PM functionality.
#2) How quickly do I want to be live on EHR?

If you stay with your current practice management system, you can usually add EHR pretty quickly. If you elect to change practice management systems and/or go with a combined system, you will be smart to implement the new practice management system before implementing the EHR. Depending upon how successful and fast the implementation of the new practice management system goes, this could delay EHR implementation by several months.
#3) What features and functionality do I want for Practice Management/Billing? For EHR?

These are going to be different. Also, note system navigation. Is it important for the PM/Billing to allow quick typing without a mouse? Is it important for the EHR to allow pure tablet/pen input? Note the items you need by PM/EHR and the priority and then evaluate both sides of the proposed solutions. If you are compromising too much on either the PM/Billing or the EHR side, a combined system may not be the best choice for your practice.
#4) Do I need the option to switch EHR systems?

If you are concerned that you may need to switch EHR systems down the road (merger, practice sale, hospital’s EHR, like another system better, etc) and you’re opting for a combined system now, find out if you can change EHRs later and if the vendor will provide an interface to the new EHR and the price for the interface. Get it in the contract.


C Huddle, VP, Market Development