Preparing for an EMR

Preparing for an EMR begins with understanding the business requirements, assessing the current state of the clinic’s patient records, knowledge of the medical-legal obligations, selecting the clinic decision makers and finally, reviewing the EMR products available.

This section includes resources to assist in the preparations to select a vendor and comparing the clinic’s needs with EMR products.

Reviewing Business Process Requirements PDF Icon – Read the instructions on how to start documenting clinic requirements, operations management requirements, and other key considerations for your clinic    

Questions to consider when selecting a vendor

Functionality and workflow

  1. Consult peers who have a similar type of practice and practice medicine in a similar manner for EMR recommendations. For example, pros and cons of their EMR, functionality and support).
  2. What interfaces are included in the basic EMR package? Is there an associated cost for maintenance and upgrades to these interfaces?
  3. What forms can the vendor’s EMR currently complete (i.e. pre-loaded)?
  4. What is the cost/time line to have other forms added to this functionality (e.g., requisitions, insurance forms, WCB forms, etc.)?

Contract considerations

  1. What is the vendor’s protocol when a physician leaves a practice and plans to continue using the same software?
    • What costs are associated with this transition?
    • Can a read-only copy of the departing physician’s charts remain at the original clinic?
    • If yes, what costs are associated with this?
  2. What is the cost of pre and post implementation training?
    • What happens when new staff/physicians join a clinic? What is the cost for licensing and training?
    • Does the vendor distinguish between basic and advanced training, and the costs associated with each?
  3. What is the vendor’s protocol if the clinic decides to terminate the EMR contract prematurely (exit strategy)?
  4. How are records made available to meet the physicians’ record archiving requirements under the CPSA’s Standards of Practice? Does the vendor offer an extract of all patient records using the Transfer of Patient Data standard (TOPD)? If yes, what are the associated costs?
  5. Which jurisdiction’s contract laws govern the agreement? Preference to Alberta law and secondly, another Canadian jurisdiction, i.e. some ASP models are hosting the data outside of Alberta and possibly outside of Canada, which may make it difficult to enforce Alberta’s privacy laws.

Implementation and training

  1. What is the plan for the configuration/implementation process?
    • What are the roles and responsibilities of both the vendor and of the clinic? Request a detailed work plan that outlines agreed timelines.
    • Will the vendor customize, or create templates, to meet your clinic’s specific needs?
    • Will the vendor develop customized report (s) to meet your clinic’s specific needs?
    • If yes, to customized templates or reports, what is the cost?
  2. What is the training format? For example, is it onsite, self-paced, computer or web-based training? What costs are associated with each training delivery method? For example, are travel expenses for the trainer included?