Healthcare providers excel at providing care to their patients, not designing IT strategies. Even so, with the trend toward value-based payments increasing, more healthcare providers have turned to electronic health records (EHR) systems to help them fine-tune practice efficiency and improve patient outcomes.

The EHR management systems options from which to choose can be dizzying, yet few decisions have so great an effect on a provider’s daily operations. As a result, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently released two free tools that aim to help providers get the most out of their EHR systems.

The first such tool is a guide titled, EHR Contracts Untangled: Selecting Wisely, Negotiating Terms, and Understanding the Fine Print. It discusses topics such as:

  • Finding the best EHR system for particular needs;
  • Complying with HIPAA;
  • Negotiating important contract terms with the vendor;
  • Managing risks and liability;
  • Resolving disagreements with the vendor; and
  • Switching to a new EHR system.

The second newly released tool is called the Health IT Playbook. The Playbook offers strategies to help providers implement and use EHR more effectively. This includes ideas for optimizing practice efficiency, engaging patients in their care, and sharing health information effectively with other providers. The Playbook also contains links to additional guides such as an interoperability roadmap and other practical information such as case studies of practices that used EHR to overcome certain challenges.