Historically, those in the senior care industry have been slow to adopt health IT software due to a variety of misconceptions. Most commonly, this results from concerns around cost, ease-of-use, and a belief that an electronic health record (EHR) will be disruptive to their business and staff workflows. However, the reality is that without the right technology in place, critical functions of care delivery documentation and medical data collection will continue to be impeded by inefficient and error-prone manual workflows that rely on paper.
While the benefits of moving from paper processes to an electronic solution far exceed the costs, it’s important to understand the needs of your organization and how software can help. For first-time software shoppers who are in the process of identifying the right vendor partner, here are few things to consider:
1. Select a Vendor Partner for the Long-term
The first question any organization should ask when looking to implement a health IT solution is: Who will be the right technology partner for us? It’s important to select a vendor for the long-term, as making a switch after implementation can be a real headache. Don’t base your decision primarily on the features being offered – operators need to make a decision that’ll last for at least the next 10 years. Company stability, performance, industry leadership, and customer empathy are all important qualities to consider when selecting your vendor partner. A company with solid products and long-standing relationships will be critical to your organization achieving long-term success.
2. Research and Education Are Key
Another important step in health IT planning is research and education. Providers should have a solid understanding of what outcomes they’re looking to achieve with a health IT solution.
Attending trade shows is a great way to research potential technology partners, as attendees are able to compare multiple solutions in one location and network with other software users to get a sense of what’s working for them. Tapping into peer networks, like user groups, helps providers to learn what challenges or successes they are experiencing and, most importantly, how well their vendor partner is supporting them.
Additionally, trade publications and government sites that discuss upcoming industry changes impacting the senior care market are also great sources of information.
3. Gather Buy-in from Across the Team
Having a consultant involved in the purchasing process can also be very beneficial. At a minimum, that person should be part of the team negotiating the software decision as they’ve been through the process before. However, don’t rely solely on a consultant’s demo scoring formula for choosing a vendor. Rather, involve parties in various departments, be that compliance, IT, and even finance, to track and report on data needs.
Including key staff members in the selection process can help ensure you select the right solution for your team – one that solves the needs of the many, versus the needs of the few. Involving an administrator in all IT related trainings will also help to better understand the software deployed and how the system fits into care workflows – helping cut down on the time it takes to ramp up.
4. Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Implementation
Care teams can often be skeptical of new technologies, which is why it is important to leverage the right tools and training to make your implementation process successful. Once a software vendor partner has been selected, providers should focus on making implementation as efficient as possible.
To help ease the challenges often associated with the implementation process, we recommend following the 80 – 20 rule: implement the 20% of functionality that provides 80% of the benefit first (across all facilities if you are a multi-facility organization), then revisit and implement additional features in subsequent phases. This allows your team to become accustomed to the technology one step at a time, while building the foundation needed to learn the more complicated and nuanced software features.
Senior care providers are realizing that technology is here to help streamline operations, cut costs, and improve care. However, there are many software options in the market to choose from, and selecting the ‘right’ software, as well as the right vendor, can be overwhelming. Successful and satisfied companies approach their vendor selection with an understanding of their goals and a desire to view their software vendors as partners for the long-term.
Follow the link to learn more about the pros and cons of implementing an EHR platform, and the value it will bring your organization.
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