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Outsourcing Information Technology

So, you’ve now made the decision to get your office running on an electronic medical records (EMR) system and you’ve chosen the specific software you want. Before you start making any major software or hardware purchases, however, you should have someone help you implement EMR into your practice – an IT (information technology) consultant or firm.

While a larger practice may have the resources for full-time IT personnel, what is a smaller group or solo practice to do?

IT is not just one narrow field, but many categories rolled into one, just as medicine comprises many distinct specialties. So, you may require different IT services depending on your practice’s needs.

But first, there are some things you need to consider before hiring your potential IT consultant or firm:

Hire a consultant to help you choose a consultant.

If there is an EMR system which you have already decided offers what your practice is looking for, ask the vendor for a recommendation on an IT firm which can help with implementation. Otherwise, ask around to other medical practices, especially those with EMR, for the name of a consultant. After you meet with this firm and get a proposal, get a second opinion. If both proposals are similar then you can rest easier.

Check out their credentials.

Just as a layperson is impressed by someone introduced as “Dr. Jones”, who may be anything from a neurosurgeon to a chiropractor to an economist, an “IT specialist” may be a high-school graduate (if that) who has decided to hang his computer shingle out for business. And don’t rely on someone with no technical training who is considered “computer-savvy” by friends or colleagues.

What are their “Skill Sets”

Be aware that there are a whole slew of skill sets and their corresponding certifications out there. The firm in question should be able to furnish these and explain their benefit to your practice and project. Examples of skill sets would include Windows Administration, Networking, Database Management, and Wireless Administration. Specific certifications in these areas would include such things as Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) or Certified Wireless Networking Professional (CWNP).

Check out their references.

You do this already when hiring any other employee, don’t you? Well, this is especially important regarding any major project such as implementation of an EMR system, so ask particularly for references from medical practices who are their clients.

Try to involve them early in the process.

You may think you know everything there is to know about your new EMR system, but you can’t. Perhaps you chose a slick new system that works wirelessly, and then discovered that the wireless infrastructure in your office was inadequate. Or that those half-dozen beautiful tablet PCs that the vendor talked you into have a battery life of 2 hours – and most of your clinics last decidedly longer than that.

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