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Considering A New Electronic Medical Record? Know What Questions You Need To Ask First?

EMR

Are you working on the transition away from paper? Or, are you trying to decide on a new software? The reality is that as we grow, our software needs change. If you have had the same system for awhile, you may wish you had set things up differently. Let’s look at some of the things to consider when choosing a software and some of the mistakes you can avoid.

8 Things To Consider:

Ok, this is a lot tougher list than you might think.  Going into different agencies we see what roadblocks software can be if you don’t choose the right one and use it effectively. Let’s check out our top 8:

  • Your service lines: Do you provide only homecare/private duty services? Or, do you just skilled or only hospice? Maybe it is all lines of service. You need to consider what will meet your current needs as well as potential for expansion. Many choose a software that only accommodates one line of service when the agency always had the goal to branch into other services lines. Conversely, if you opened as a personal care service and have zero intentions of becoming a skilled agency, it makes no sense to pay for a more complex software.
  •  Size of your agency: Pick a software that allows for growth. You may be very small right now and have aspirations of more market share or additional branches to serve a larger territory. Make sure your software can accommodate surge. In the past, we have seen agencies who stayed in one service line that grew in numbers and the software couldn’t accommodate the additional patient loads. It costs the agency a lot of money as the entire work flow slows down while costs increase.
  • Software set-up: In your process, this is so crucial to making work flow function within your agency. If you are first time to the process, you may want to consider paying someone from the software company to be on-site to help you through setting up your payers and work flow. Ask anyone who has completed set up poorly, things never go well from the beginning. Many companies have self serve videos to guide you with set-up and this may work well for you. If not, then make the investment for someone to be there with you.
  • Ongoing customer service:  Just like the previous bullet point, many software companies have a vast range of self help videos to troubleshoot your issues. If this is good for you, then that is great. If it isn’t, then you need to know things about their customer service department. How many people staff it? Hours someone is available? If there a chat option for customer support? What is average turnover time if you have to submit a trouble ticket? Then, ask how they know what that number is. Are they giving you the canned response of all inquiries will be addressed within 24-48 business hours? Are they even tracking how quickly customer support addresses then resolves issues? What is the turnover rate for employees in that company’s customer service/ technical support department? If they are assigning someone specifically to you, then how long has he or she worked for the company?
  • Cost: This is obviously a huge consideration in software choice. We have seen some small agencies struggle as they have purchased a very expensive software with a good reputation, but they are too small to put forth that kind of money into software. There is no need to overbuy if you are a small agency.
  • Devices: Are you looking at documentation on iPads or are you buying laptops for staff? Do staff want to use their own phones to document? Maybe you are considering a hybrid of devices in the field. There are positives and negatives to each device and consider what makes the best sense for your agency.
  • Clinical versus billing:  Let’s say you had demonstrations of 5 different software EMRs. If you asked your clinicians to rank them from 1-5  and did the same with those from billing, we tend to see a trend every time. The EMRs that rank higher for clinicians are at the bottom of the finance list and vice versa. Now, that has been the experience of our clinical versus financial consultants and we see it in the agencies we service. The moral of this story is to look at your needs. Do you have strong clinical documentation and therefore you can manage some hiccups and work arounds in that department? Or, do you really need the clinical documentation to have the easiest flow? You may have a long term billing department that can work through the software without an issue.
  • Changes have to happen: A huge roadblock for software companies is when an agency is unwilling to utilize the software the way it is meant to function. An agency has to be able to take the software and change some things operationally to make the EMR function at optimal level. It may mean some of your internal processes may not work with a certain software. You have to be open to change or you will struggle with any system you choose.

Let Kenyon Homecare Consulting Help:

At Kenyon Homecare Consulting, we have senior consultants well-versed in different EMR systems and can assist in software selection. Call us today at 206-7521-5091 or contact us online to see how we can help you choose what is right for you.

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