Recommendations for Health Services Shifting to EHR Platform

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The Affordable Care Act is reshaping our health care landscape. Non-profit organizations that provide health and human services are right in the thick of it, along with hospitals, counties, and many others. The need to adapt to changing policies is not new to any organization within health services, but that doesn't mean the decisions are clear or easy. One of the resulting effects of this Act can be seen most readily with IT and electronic health records.

Electronic Health Record systems have been around for a long time, but many non-profits haven’t implemented this as a solution if it was not a requirement. Now, the landscape is changing and organizations have to tackle what can be a difficult decision. Fortunately, we've now been through this process a few times with clients, and I would like to offer some suggestions to help your organization move things along and determine the best solution.

Quickly, let’s break down the process into the following steps:

1.       Assess your requirements
2.       Research Options
3.       Evaluate Products
4.       Plan Capacity and Implementation
5.       Pilot
6.       Implementation
7.       Evaluate and Optimize

For some, this approach may seem clear and straightforward. For others, this procedure may feel like overkill. Regardless of how you skin it, there is something from each of these phases that needs to be incorporated into your decision making process. It's not to say that you won't be able to complete your selection without following these steps to a tee, but you may be gambling with your time and money. It is my advice that it’s worthwhile to thoroughly work through the process, and carefully arrive at your decision.

A few recommendations from our experiences:

  • Assign an internal champion to keep the process moving forward
  • Assign an internal manager (could be the same as the champion)
  • Develop a group or committee to discuss organizational-wide needs
  • Network with your peers for ideas, recommendations, and experience (it's invaluable!)
  • Engage product vendors as collaborators, not as sales people (if they’re good, they should really understand the business and the requirements)
  • Demo first, run more detailed evaluations later
  • Make sure vendors invest the time to understand your model and your work
  • Get budget numbers, but don't eliminate solutions based on price alone (think long-term rather than short-term solutions, which may appear more affordable but could actually be more costly over time).

Contact us if you have questions or recommendations on how to tackle this selection process. We would love to hear good and bad experiences alike.

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