System Selection: Thoughts and Considerations

System Selection is the process of identifying, evaluating and determining which clinical or financial system or combination of systems would be best for the healthcare provider organization. Although organizations share many similarities, each one is unique. Examples of these organization types include community based hospitals, academic organizations, Integrated Delivery Networks (IDN’s), and pediatric organizations. What is important to note is that every organization has multiple levels of variables that need to be considered to understand how to best utilize the implemented system.

It’s easy to take the 10 basic evaluation questions used in most selection process reviews, but it’s been my experience that these don’t answer enough critical questions to understand which system is best for your organization. Too many providers simply review systems from a clinical perspective and while their primary function is as a clinical tool, the days of systems being standalone silos are gone. Today’s clinical systems need to integrate with revenue cycle systems and modules, materials management, pharmacies, ancillary systems, as well as back-end operations and service system and modules. Therefore it’s critical for organizations to have strategic operations and IT plans.

There is no perfect template to follow for choosing a system because the variables vary between organizations, IT vendors, medical strategies and personnel. That’s why it’s important to have experienced personnel working on your project who can adapt to your organization. What I can provide are some general considerations to use in your selection of a systems, which will become increasingly integrated with everything a provider does.

When transforming your paper based system in to a modern electronic system, the system will be only as strong as your weakest part. So evaluate carefully and be certain to understand the ‘realities’ of your organization while considering. Here are some important things to keep in mind to ensure the system adheres to your organization’s needs:

Your system should:
• Increase the ability to adopt new techniques into practice so that patients are getting the most effective therapies.
• Utilize Computerized Physician Order Entry to upgrade diagnostic and medicine therapies.
• Include clinically driven alerts so that when a specific event occurs, it is brought to the attention of the clinical staff so that an appropriate intervention can always be considered.
• Should naturally incorporate CPOE, the latest bar code scanning and eMar tools for patient safety to reduce the chances of drug interactions, overdoses, or other potentially dangerous concerns.
• Provide robust reporting options which include auto-trending and comparison of treatment trends which can be evaluated over time by relevant date elements like: diagnosis, stage, laboratory values, drugs used, treatment selected or patient demographics

Planning for your system:
• Develop a strategy which promotes a consistent delivery of care so that the practice can verify and demonstrate it is giving the latest therapy in an appropriate way for every patient every day.
• Develop an enterprise business and medical strategy using proven techniques to incorporate all areas of the medical organization.
• Prior to system selection, perform a clinical transformation initiative and determine your organization’s requirements based on the ‘Best Practices’. Be sure to include all areas of the hospital or practice.
• Require final vendors to create a mock virtual complex tour. The vendor should bring in equipment to demonstrate the functionality and system abilities as they pertain to each area of your organization. Have the staff rate the systems and report them back with comments. The results will not only provide insight but will invoke support by including all staff in the process. This process will also create a firmer understanding of expectations for contract negotiation considerations.
• Be sure the system is CCHIT Certified and measures outcomes so that it is possible to seek and find the answers to questions about what is accomplished in particular therapies.
• Develop a strategy to incorporate the expanded information outlets into the continuous efforts to improve available diagnostic options and remedies. HIE’s now extend this information and managing the availability, quality and value of data and incorporating that into ‘Best Practices’ will be crucial. This will naturally encourage the emergence of “Clinical PMO’s” for the development, delivery and management of this new information.

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