Unlocking Potential: When Should You Consider Upgrading From A Off-The-Shelf EHR To A Custom System

upgrade off the shelf ehr software custom program electronic health records

Did you know that since the introduction of Electronic Health Records (EHR) in 2008, the adoption rate of EHR software systems has jumped from 42% to 88% in 2024? 

Apart from that, what is even more interesting is that almost all non-federal acute care hospitals have adopted a certified EHR system. With 96% adoption rate almost all the non-federal acute care hospitals have not adopted a EHR system. 

However, looking at the projection and the market swing in EHR, a new trend can be easily noticed. Yes, that is right! Since most of the hospitals and clinical institutions have adopted generic or off-the-shelf EHR software systems, a new trend is dictating the projectile in the Electronic Health Records (EHR) market in the name of custom EHR software system. 

This trend has not only made everyone in the healthcare industry aware of the benefits of custom EHR software but also provided them with an opportunity to completely customize their healthcare workflow efficiency and expand their offerings. 

If you are a healthcare provider, then there is a high chance that you must be using an off-the-shelf EHR software solution. On top of that, you must be tired of doing certain things with your software yourself, which might take up your time from patient care optimization to doing the formalities. 

Well, then, take the hint and understand that this is the high time to switch to a custom EHR software system

In this blogpost, let’s see exactly why you need to shift from generic to custom EHR software system and try to answer the most common question ‘how to choose the right EHR for my practice’. 

Signs You Have Outgrown Your Off-The-Shelf EHR 

This is one of the most common problems observed by healthcare providers. As the practice grows, the practice naturally outgrows the offerings of off-the-shelf EHR software. Below are some of the signs that tell you that the off-the-shelf EHR software has outgrown your practice: 

• Workflow Disruption & Inefficiency 

The first problem that comes to notice with an off-the-shelf EHR software solution is healthcare workflow efficiency disruption and inefficiency of the software that makes it difficult to carry out your day-to-day activities, especially related to patient care optimization and delivery. 

Let’s try to understand this with an example. Your clinical practice has set a workflow earlier before EHR implementation. However, as your practice has grown, the software is unable to handle the pressure and causing delays in efficiency. This has impacted the productivity of your practice and resulted in depleting patient health outcomes. 

• Limited Customization & Scalability 

Off-the-shelf EHR software offers very limited options to customize your Electronic Health Records (EHR) software. This becomes a problem when the practice grows, and new specialties are integrated into the practice. Since the software has very limited customization options, it hinders the adaption of the evolving practice needs. 

Along with limited customization, the lack of scalable features also arises with off-the-shelf EHR software. Since the software comes with features and compatibility features to accommodate a certain number of patient populations, the very limited ecosystem requires the vendor to constantly update the software to accommodate the growing needs of the practice. 

Whenever you face such issues on a regular basis, understand that it is high time to switch from generic to custom EHR software solution. 

• Integration Challenges & Data Silos 

As your practice increases, the software needs to be integrated with the existing practice management systems. This process can be complex, with limited customization features, and could cost a fortune if you’re using an off-the-shelf EHR system. 

Furthermore, it also creates data silos that hinder the patient care journey, which not only makes the entire process difficult for the practice but also for the patient in many different ways. 

Benefits Of Upgrading To A Custom EHR 

Now that you have the hints where you find it necessary to make a switch to custom EHR software systems. Let’s now see some of the lucrative benefits of a custom EHR for a small practice after upgrading: 

• Enhanced Efficiency & Streamlined Workflows 

During the development phase of custom EHR, the exact need of the software system is understood and it is tailored in a way to align with the practice’s workflow. It has the potential to reduce the time spent on data entry and other administrative tasks. By automating and streamlining the very first part of the practice, it directly contributes to the efficiency of the practice. 

For instance, from patient data entry to scheduling patient appointments, the entire process is streamlined. This allows the healthcare providers to focus more on patient care optimization rather than on Electronic Health Records (EHR) data entry which directly impacts the revenue generation possibilities of the practice. 

• Improved Patient Care & Reduced Errors 

The ultimate goal of any healthcare organization is to improve the health outcomes of their patients. Custom EHRs are designed to support the specific needs of a clinical practice, and what they also ingrain in the practice are data-driven healthcare practices. 

The data driven practice changes the nature of the practice and gives them evidence based insights which improves the accuracy in diagnosis, treatment and care plan formation. With data and automations, it also reduces the margin of errors in the entire process, making it a truly remarkable experience for both the patients and providers. 

• Increased Staff Satisfaction & Retention 

Since, the entire EMR software system is custom built, you also get the freedom to define and design your own UI/UX of the software, after all it’s your staff and patients who will be using these software solutions. The user-friendly nature of the software helps in improving the staff satisfaction rate, reduce training time and boosts the morale of patients and providers, resulting in enhanced patient health outcomes. 

Furthermore, by making the software user-friendly, the staff turnover is lowered which eliminates the need for training. Along with that, it can also turnout to be a cost saving venture where you can save significantly on recruitment and onboarding costs. 

• Scalability & Reduced Integration Costs 

The distinct feature of custom EHR software solutions is that it is designed with a vision to scale. Meaning as your practice grows, the software will be easily available for customizations and eliminate the need for any expensive upgrades that might be required for making the software scalable. 

When this combines with the seamless integration process, it impacts the overall IT costs of the system and the software finds itself at the center point of the healthcare ecosystem. 

Evaluating Your Needs: Is A Custom EHR Right For You? 

Here, the main question comes up: Is the custom EHR software solution right for your practice? 

Well, that completely depends on your organization, its needs, and requirements. To simplify this process for you and help you find the right answer to your practice-defining question, here are some of the questions that you should ask yourself or the vendor. 

- Does your off-the-shelf EHR software align with your practice's clinical workflow? 
- Is the EHR software capable of handling a large patient population? 
- Is the software compatible with healthcare specialties and other aspects of care? 
- Are most of your healthcare providers spent on manual tasks? 
- Does your healthcare system require automation? 
- Do you need customization for your practice? 
- Is the current EHR system hard for your healthcare providers and staff members to use? 
- Cost comparison: custom vs off-the-shelf EHR 

These are some of the many questions that might clear your confusion about whether you need to switch to custom EHR software or not. Also, consider this as a checklist for evaluating EHR vendors. 


When the off-the-shelf EHR software outgrows your practice, there are several indicators that hints towards it. From disrupting your clinical workflow and delays in patient care progress, the software itself shows its efficiency to match the growing needs of the practice. 

In such a case, take the hint and start shifting your Electronic Health Records (EHR) software system from a generic to a custom system. This will not only enhance the efficiency of your practice but also improve the patient care journey and contribute to the overall growth of the practice while addressing the future growth prospects of the practice. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

1. What are the main differences between generic and custom EHR systems? 

Generic EHRs are one-size-fits-all, offering a wide range of features but potentially lacking a perfect fit for your workflow. Custom EHRs are built to your specific needs, boosting efficiency. This means custom electronic health records are practice-specific and can offer more flexibility and customization options based on the requirements. 

2. How can I determine if my practice needs a custom EHR system? 

Consider a custom EHR if off-the-shelf options lack features specific to your practice (e.g., specialty forms, unique workflows). Evaluate the cost and complexity of development against benefits like increased efficiency and tailored functionality for your practice. 

3. What are the benefits of upgrading to a custom EHR system? 

Upgrading to a custom EHR software system can streamline your workflow by tailoring features to your specific needs. This can improve patient care through better data analysis, boost security, and enhance patient experience with features like medication reminders. However, custom EHRs require upfront investment and ongoing maintenance 

4. How long does it typically take to transition from a generic to a custom EHR system? 

Switching from a generic to a custom EHR can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months, depending on the software development complexity, data migration, and staff training all impact the timeline. Expect in-depth planning, customization, and potential workflow disruption during the transition. 

5. What should I look for in a custom EHR vendor? 

Choose a custom EHR vendor with experience in your specialty's workflow. Prioritize user-friendly design and ensure it integrates with your existing systems. Ask about scalability and ongoing support for updates and new technologies. 

6. Will my data be secure during the transition to a custom EHR system? 

Transitioning to a new EHR system can increase data security risks. However, strong measures like encryption and access controls can mitigate these. Make sure your healthcare provider prioritizes data security during the switch. Ask them about their plan to keep your information protected. 

7. How can I ensure my staff is adequately trained on the new custom EHR system? 

To ensure staff mastery of your custom EHR: 

• Provide tiered training based on computer skills. 
• Designate "super users" for ongoing support. 
• Train staff on their specific workflows, not the entire system. 
• Utilize vendor resources and gather post-training feedback to address lingering gaps. 

8. Is a custom EHR too expensive for my practice? 

Custom EHRs can be pricey, but long-term benefits should be considered. Standard EHRs might not perfectly fit your workflow, costing time and efficiency. Research custom EHR costs and compare them to potential gains in productivity and cost savings. Talk to vendors to explore affordable options. 

9. What is involved in the implementation process of a custom EHR? 

Implementing a custom EHR involves forming a team, defining needs, developing the software, migrating data, training staff, and going live. It is like building a house for your medical records, requiring planning, construction, and a smooth move-in. 

10. How can I ensure a smooth transition from a generic EHR to a custom system? 

A smooth switch from a generic EHR to a custom system requires planning. Focus on user buy-in: involve staff in the design, offer extensive training, and create a clear data migration plan. Minimize disruption by scheduling downtime strategically and providing ongoing support during the transition.

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