Thought Leader Spotlight, Sponsored by Netsmart
For many provider organizations, selecting an electronic health record (EHR) is a major task that involves nearly all staff members, takes a large amount of time and money, and requires an examination of both current business practices and future strategies. To optimize this process, it is imperative to work with an EHR partner who is aligned with your organization’s mission and goals, and is ready to be a full partner to make your strategy a reality.
To determine exactly what provider organizations are looking for in an EHR partner, we talked with two different organizations—a certified community behavioral health organization and a life plan community for older adults. While the populations they serve, the programs they provide, and the regulations they follow may be different, both organizations were looking for similar characteristics in an EHR partner. Those characteristics included not only providing the necessary EHR functionality, but also providing functionality that was flexible enough to allow them to implement new programs and models of care. They were looking for a partner who was stable, future oriented, and able to help them meet their strategic goals.
CPC Behavioral Healthcare: Looking For A Partner To Help Position Them As An Industry Leader
CPC Behavioral Healthcare is a $42 million behavioral health organization in New Jersey. The organization is a certified community behavioral health center (CCBHC), a behavioral health home, and provides mental health, substance use and special education services for children, adults and families. CPC has more than 350 employees with 200 concurrent EHR users and a total of 300 staff members using the EHR.
We spoke to Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Stella Santora, about what was important to CPC when choosing a new EHR partner. “Our goal is to be a leader in delivering new models of care,” Ms. Santora said. “We needed to ensure that the EHR had the functionality to change with the models, and to develop new models.” Ms. Santora explained how important it was for CPC to have a partner that had both the necessary vision and a plan to help them meet this goal.
First, CPC ensured their partner’s EHR met the functionality requirements for an organization that is on the forefront of new models of care. This included integration of physical and behavioral health, care coordination, clinical support workflow, with decision support, business intelligence for outcomes, and population health management. Additionally, the EHR needed to be flexible in its design to allow CPC to implement new payment and care models in the future.
CPC also made sure their partner had a commitment and vision for the future—both in growing their own business and meeting the changes of the health and human services market. Ms. Santora explained that CPC had to find a new EHR partner after finding out their old vendor was sunsetting their EHR. CPC wanted a strong, stable partner committed to growing their business. To ensure they picked a strong partner, CPC reviewed the five-year strategic plans of their vendors. On the technical side, CPC wanted an EHR partner who was one of the first to be 2015 ONC certified. This certification ensured their partner’s commitment to be at the forefront of new rules and regulations. In addition, the certification is crucial for CPC to meet grant and health plan requirements. Overall, CPC was drawn to an EHR partner who was innovative, collaborative, and vision-driven.
Westminster-Canterbury On Chesapeake Bay: Looking For A Partner To Help Move Their Business Plan Forward
Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay (WC Bay) is a $60 million life plan community (also known as a continuing care retirement community) located on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. The community has 680 residents and more than 650 staff (full-time and part-time) who work across a campus, which spans independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, and rehabilitation. WC Bay also has a wholly-owned subsidiary (Senior Options), which provides advisory services including back-end billing for home health, hospice, and home care agencies in six states.
We spoke to WC Bay Chief Information Officer Rich Hoherz, about what they look for in an EHR partner. While functionality and interoperability were extremely important for WC Bay, they were also interested in a partner who could help them meet their business plan and had an eye toward the future.
Hoherz explained that Senior Options has grown rapidly in the past four years, expanding from one partner in Virginia, to 13 partners across six states. Choosing the right EHR was a critical business decision that affects how rapidly the community can grow. Their EHR selection had to be scalable across multiple states, multiple product interactions and multiple payers. WC Bay wanted a partner that would take care of the scale and the hardware issues on the back end so that WC Bay could focus on providing services.
WC Bay wanted a partner who looks toward the future. The life plan and post-acute markets face increasing regulations, and WC Bay needed a partner who understands those markets and stays ahead of the changes. “It’s important that they have a road-map and strategy for the future. Not just for next quarter, but what they are doing to improve their platform overall, as well as further integration,” Mr. Hoherz said. “Obviously, the stability of the partner is crucial. We want somebody that we know is going to be here for the next 50 years. They have to have the resources and thought leadership to get through it.” He also noted that WC Bay wanted a partner who brings new ideas, and offers a portfolio of services that complement the changing landscape.
Both Ms. Santora and Mr. Hoherz emphasized that an EHR partner must be able to answer your questions and share information. Ms. Santora noted that sometimes partners and provider organizations talk about functionality differently. It’s important to have a discussion and make sure everyone is on the same page. She also noted that partners should offer to let you visit a client using their product, so that you can see it in action. Mr. Hoherz echoed these comments, explaining that you should ask for what you want—because if you don’t ask, you won’t receive. Stop seeing your EHR vendor as an adversary and start seeing them as a partner from the beginning asking questions and voicing concerns.
For both organizations, Netsmart was the right strategic partner to help move their organizations forward. With the implementation of their EHRs, CPC Behavioral Health and Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay now have the functionality they need to meet their present needs, and the structure in place to move their organizations forward.