Software Shopping Tips
by Leigh-Ann Renz, 9/27/13 (updated & revised on 7.1.15)
From mental health EHR marketer to software shopper
We recently switched one of our key in-office software programs, and it became my task to find a replacement for our old system. How interesting it was to be on the other side of the table! It’s my job to market PIMSY mental health EHR and connect our behavioral health software with the folks who need it. But to suddenly be a shopper of software was sort of fascinating.
We need a system that’s comprehensive & can handle a large amount of data; is simple to use and provides filtering tools so information can be easily manipulated and found; offers solid security for our data/is HIPAA compliant; has excellent customer service; and is affordable, especially for our number of users. Sound familiar??
Steps to the find the right mental health practice management system
While the type of software I was searching for is not nearly as comprehensive as an EHR, the steps I used to find the best option are the same ones you can employ to find the right mental health practice management system:
> Consult a directory: There are several complimentary software directory websites that allow you to filter by practice needs and thereby find a few options that might work for you. They also provide uncensored customer reviews of various programs that let you get an idea of what it’s really like to use these systems, from the trenches.
While I was in a different category from psychiatry software, the process is the same: check out what’s available, narrow down the options by talking to one of their advisors (also free) and then use the compiled lists as a starting point. Click here to get started.
> Get Help: Find that person in your office who has excellent researching skills and the time to help you, and maximize their support. Ask them to send you detailed info, like online reviews & comparisons, pricing details and sites to review.
I combined the vendor list culled from the directories with one my colleague created and drafted a spreadsheet, with our specific system needs, to keep everything organized. As vendors starting answering my questions, I used color coding to quickly identify them as yes-no-maybe, based on their answers.
> Watch Carefully! I was amazed at how strongly my opinion of a system was influenced by the way my email was received. One of the vendors never responded to my inquiries, and several others provided short, pat answers that didn’t give me any information about whether or not their software could actually do what I was asking.
I tried digging for specifics with a second email, but gave up on a few of them when I continued to not receive what I was after. If they’re not going to listen to my requests or take them seriously when they’re trying to sell me something, it leaves me with little assurance that I’ll be taken care of once I’m on the hook and a contracted customer!
Although our office is pretty computer-savvy, this isn’t our system, and we’re going to need help in learning it. We’re short on time and need clear answers to our questions; and we want to work with a team that will be available to help and provide details for a resolution, both during the sales process and after we’re a customer.
> Pick the Favorites and Schedule a Demo: The vendors who made it to the next round were prompt with their answers, provided details about how their system could meet our needs, were courteous on the phone and in emails, and were honest with me about what their systems could or couldn’t do. We scheduled Web demos with these favorites and asked lots of questions, continuing to monitor how they answered our requests and handled our needs.
Although we had to nix two of them because they couldn’t meet our requirements, they earned my respect by being honest about their system’s capabilities. If our needs change in the future and we’re shopping again, I would start there.
> Keep Asking: Keep asking the vendor questions until you’re satisfied that this is the right system for you. I wasn’t shy about emailing & calling over and over until I had the answer I needed. Your questions and inquiries should be handled promptly and respectfully each time!
As one of the stand-out vendors said “It doesn’t benefit us to make a quick sale. We want to cultivate a lasting relationship with our clients, and getting you on the hook doesn’t benefit us if it isn’t a good fit.” Wow. Their level of responsiveness leaves me confident that my questions will continue to be answered in the form of support inquiries as we get into the system and encounter the inevitable learning curve and speed bumps.
We're prompt, courteous and thorough with our responses and will continue to answer your questions and showcase PIMSY until you're satisfied it's the right fit for your practice. We're honest about what the system can and can't do: it doesn’t benefit us to make a quick sale, and we want to cultivate a long-standing relationship with our clients.
After you become a client, we provide timely, comprehensive training & support, included in the price. We'll never leave you hanging with a question or need, and we offer all the necessary tools for you to get the most out of PIMSY.
Not every practice is the same, but most of our leads and clients feel the way we do: they want to be able to get help promptly and have someone walk them through the solution. They want their vendor to help them configure and utilize the system to meet their needs. They want to know they’re not just a number or dollar sign; but rather, a valued customer. A responsive team that provides ongoing high-level support (like PIMSY) ensures just that.
“I don’t care if you have the best program in the world, if you can’t use it, then it doesn’t help you.” (Seth H., Norcon Family Counseling)