“In the fields of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind,” is a Louis Pasteur saying that resonated with me during The 2019 OPEN MINDS Technology & Informatics Institute session Is Your EHR On Track: How To Conduct A Strategic Technology Assessment as presenters Matthew M. Dorman, founder and chief executive officer of Credible Behavioral Health, Inc., and Larry Trenga, chief information officer of Wesley Family Services, shared their experiences.
The truth is that flashes of insight don’t just happen; they are a result of careful preparation, which must be brought to any organization’s technology implementation. How does one get there? Through a strategic technology assessment, which consists of a comprehensive review of the current state of your organization’s technology infrastructure and future needs.
In this session we learned the how of a strategic technology assessment. Most broadly, you must consider your market, your payer mix, the interests of your board, stakeholders, and staff. Also, in the mix for consideration are federal and state mandates, anticipated regulatory changes (ICD-11 is coming), assessment and reporting needs, as well as the ability to successfully participate in value-based reimbursement programs and other payment models.
More narrowly, a strategic technology assessment focuses on where your current system fails to meet your business needs. This is accomplished by completing a gap analysis. Things to consider when performing a gap analysis: What is broken? What can’t you do? What is the perception of what can’t be done? Perception is, after all, reality sometimes. What percentage of your agency is not on the system?
When is the right time to complete a technology assessment? “Any time the needs of the organization change” is the short answer. When there is a merger, acquisition or expansion of services, or when your legacy system no longer meets your organization’s strategic business development goals are good times to do a deep dive to learn if you have all the tools you need for success.
For example, when Wesley Spectrum merged with Family Services of Western Pennsylvania in 2017, Credible was one of two electronic health record (EHR) system vendors vetted to be the system of choice for the newly merged entity (see Where Are EHRs Heading?). Credible helped the organizations complete a comprehensive assessment of each entity’s legacy systems with the goal of selecting the “best of breed” in each service area, business process, and system configuration to ensure optimum support for Wesley Family Services.
During this exercise, Mr. Dorman emphasized, and Mr. Trenga embraced the tenet that technology systems selection is not an information technology (IT) decision, it’s a business decision. “If you look at it [system selection] as a technology project it will fail, it has to be a business project.” That’s true whether your organization is going through a merger, shopping for a new EHR, or determining if the current EHR is being used effectively.
Three simple grids were presented to help organize findings and provide an “at a glance” side-by-side vendor comparison.
When the Wesley Spectrum and Family Services teams collaboratively assessed the legacy system of each organization and mapped the “must have, nice to have, and have today” to the business operations needs of the combined entity, the choice of vendor quickly became apparent. It came down to mobility, reporting and business intelligence, and reliability of the system. Interestingly, cost was not the highest priority. In fact, it was low on the list, as Wesley knew there was opportunity to negotiate and the business needs of the combined entity was the higher priority.
Session attendees questioned the presenters about time to implementation and training. Several attendees described system implementations that occurred during several years and in the end the system did not effectively support the organization. Or, as others noted, the training provided was insufficient for staff to effectively harness the functionality of the system. Mr. Dorman’s response: “Get out of the mindset that it’s going to take a year or two to implement. Credible completes 50 to 60 implementations a year in four months, on average, unless the customer asks for the implementation to be completed over a longer period.” The length of time your organization allocates to implement a new EHR system depends entirely on your organizational goals and operational resources.
Completing an assessment is only the first step. Effectively using the information gathered during the assessment will determine next steps to upgrade your existing system or invest in a new system to better meet your clinical, operational, and financial goals.
For more, take The OPEN MINDS Strategic Technology Assessment, here: https://ehrbestpractices.org/ehr-assessment-tool/. And for more, check out these resources in The OPEN MINDS Industry Library:
- Tech = Tools
- Six Functions For Moving EHRs To The Next Level
- The Five Key Competencies Of Technology & Reporting Infrastructure
- 4 Keys To Make New Tech Work
- Your EHR Might Be The Key To M&A Success
- Tech Management As Executive Competency
- Getting That Return On Your Tech Investment
- EHR Implementations: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
- Your Insights For Tech Management & Strategy
- Is Your EHR Up To The Challenge Of Value-Based Reimbursement?
For more, join Mr. Dorman along with OPEN MINDS Senior Associate Joseph P. Naughton-Travers, Ed.M. on January 28, 2020, for their executive web briefing, Beyond The Core 4: What You Need To Survive A Value-Based World – Results Of The 2019 National Behavioral Health Electronic Health Record Survey, featuring the 2019 Behavioral Health EHR Survey results and insights into the functionality necessary to survive in a value-based world.