EHR Device Survey...and How To Choose Your EHR Laptop

Part 1 - The Survey

We get hardware recommendation requests every day here at PCC, particularly from practices implementing an EHR.  "What laptop should I buy?  Will it work with an iPod? How big a screen should I get? Is Brand X good or bad?"  Physicians go into shopping mode and want to make sure they get the "best deals" for their practices and often brag to me about some special laptop they have or, just as often, complain about what they ended up doing.

We make our recommendations of course (when in doubt...Mac Book Air!), but different devices appeal to different users.  And we really only track the experience our EHR clients have - not every EHR is created equally, so perhaps certain devices work better with a different EHR.  So, we've created a survey - answer a few quick questions about each of the devices you have in your office and we'll share the results.  Perhaps you'll be spared some grief or you can spare someone else.

The survey is designed to capture information about multiple device types in your office.  This means that you will need to go through the survey multiple times for each different type of device you have in your offices (10 more-or-less identical Lenovo laptops == one entry; your iPad if you access the EHR with it = one entry; etc.).

Once we get some data, I'll share it here and on SOAPM.

The survey can be found here.

Part 2, My Advice

What do I respond when asked this question?

  • I ask one simple question in return: on which device to you type the fastest and most accurately? What device is the most comfortable to you when moving from room to room?  Whatever that device is, that should be your answer 90% of the time.  Ignore cost.  Other important features - screen real estate, battery life, etc. - can be mitigated.  You simply want the device that will let you spend the least amount of time entering data, the least amount of time mousing around, the least amount of time being frustrated.
    This means I strongly suggest heading down to BestBuy or the Apple store or whatever and playing with a few models.  If you have to buy 10 machines for your staff in 2015, why not bring a half-dozen different models into the office and let everyone try them out.  What works for you may not work for someone else.  For example, even though a Mac Air is a wonderful room-to-room EHR input device, it doesn't work for me personally because I can't type on that keyboard.  And if I'm going to spend all day long working on it, I want it to fit my like a glove.  Which leads me to my second piece of advice.
  • Ignore the cost.  I've said this twice for a reason.  Too often, practices focus on saving a couple hundred bucks (or even much less) when they really ought to focus on productivity.  Think about mechanics or carpenters or musicians.  Do they use the cheapest equipment they can find?  Does the person who owns the barbershop get cheap shears for the employees?  Buy the nicest device that suits you and your staff.  Every minute you and they waste on the wrong device adds up to discomfort, dissatisfaction, and lost productivity.   Over the course of its use, the difference in cost between the nicest devices and least expensive is pennies an hour.

Go take that survey and let's see what we learn!