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EMR Go-Live Vendor Selection: 5 Questions to Ask

Posted by The HCI Group on September 27, 2016 at 3:27 PM

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EMR Go-Live Vendor Selection: 5 Questions to Ask

Go-Live is the culmination of all your EMR implementation efforts—all eyes will be on your project team. Executives, Providers, Clinical and Non Clinical staff, and the local community will all be watching and evaluating how smoothly your Go-Live event runs. It is imperative that you choose a seasoned vendor that has encountered varied, challenging implementations from across the country.

In today’s blog post, Randy Grams, HCI’s Vice President of the Activate service line, shares five questions you should be asking when you are evaluating EMR Go-Live vendors. Randy has lead over 30 assessments and Activations in the United States and Europe and is one of the leading minds in the EMR Activation space.

Exceptional Activation support vendors will have an expertise in your specific EMR, with an exposure to a wide range of Activation types in logistically/technically complex environments and geographies. Additionally, you should seek out vendors that avoid hiring new consultants and instead provide your program with permanent, long-term experienced Activation employees that serve as your project leadership. Experience is key in this business; a hired consultant might know the process of delivery but knows very little about the company that just hired them for your project. Managing successful Activation projects require intense synchronization across the entire company; if your vendor on-boards a new project manager just for your project, it will significantly increase the risk to a successful implementation.

There are dozens of vendors that offer Go-Live Activation services – however, not all vendors are the same, nor do they offer the same array of services, experience, and ancillary support. So, how do you choose? What are the right questions to ask? Narrowing down Activation vendors can be a challenging process, so we have created this article to help you align your organization with the best vendor to suit your unique needs.

1) What is Your Approach to Supporting Our EMR and What Tools Do You Use?

The first question you will want to ask a potential EMR Go-Live support vendor is how they plan to assess, validate, and deliver support for your end users during the Activation period. You need to be confident that end users have enough competent support.  Using cutting edge tools, the support vendor can closely build the assessment, master schedule, and can monitor and tightly control your program. An excellent program manager and vendor will ensure that support staff are where they need to be, are self-monitoring their quality, and are providing your leadership team with reports and dashboards that summarize the status of the entire Go-Live program. It is critical that you select an EMR Activation vendor that allows your EMR team to focus on command center operations and clearing open tickets as quickly as possible.

2) What is Your Company’s Experience Managing EMR Go-Lives?

Your organization should pick a support vendor that has operated successfully within challenging environments. Examples of complex environments are those that include a large number of unique sites going live, metropolitan areas, state-wide implementation, and simultaneous large inpatient sites. Other examples include sites that are moving from paper to EMR and are also installing new hardware and other integrated infrastructure that could impact the pace and performance of adoption. It is crucial that your vendor understands and has the bench strength to bring additional experts should things not run as smoothly as you expect. Your vendor should anticipate problems and have the leadership and understanding to mitigate risk and issues before they surface. In essence, a good vendor relationship is a true partnership in both the delivery and risk management of your Activation program.

You should have confidence that your EMR Go-Live program delivery team clearly understands your needs and is a good fit for your internal leadership team. Develop a project plan and ensure your needs are fully accounted for and addressed with a practical solution by your Activation support vendor. Solutions should accommodate all aspects of the delivery, communication, and logistics continuum.

Your support vendor should validate and agree with your initial assessment estimates. An experienced vendor will know how to analyze the intricacies of your organization and deliver a comprehensive, site-by-site support assessment. If there are deficiencies, your vendor should be able to quickly point out areas of concern and also review the cost associated with any changes.

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3) How Do You Manage EMR Go-Live Costs?

A third question one should ask their Activation vendor is about their ability to work within your budget. Vendors should be a partner with your Activation; their concern should not just be limited to how many support people are needed onsite. A true partner will seek to find opportunities to provide you with a budget-efficient support plan. There are numerous ways to maximize internal super users, trainers, internal leadership, departmental support resource sharing, and leveraging multi-module experts to help contain costs. A good program manager can help significantly lower the cost of your Go-Live project drawing on previous experiences of doing more with less. Is your vendor simply providing bodies? Or, are they taking an active role in controlling costs, minimizing risk and integrating themselves as a productive part of your organizational plan?

4) Does Your Organization Have Enough Internal Leadership to Fill Key Support Roles During Go-Live?

A fourth question to ask an EMR Go-Live support vendor would be whether or not they will need additional support beyond the At-The-Elbow Activation support team. There are a wide array of tasks that need to be managed both before, during, and post Activation. Will you require supplemental support to fill these key roles? Will your vendor partnership be able to provide seasoned experts that have worked cohesively with the Activation team in the past? A vendor’s leadership should be able to offer additional support to help you manage your program: Shadow charting, Super User Program, Scheduling, Personalization Labs, and MD expertise. You need to make sure that you have enough people to do the job, and are able to get the job done. An exceptional vendor will already have this team ready and waiting to be deployed both when and where they are needed.

5) Does Your EMR Activation Staff Rank Well in KLAS?

An important thing to ask a prospective Activation vendor is if they rank in the Top 5 of KLAS ‘Activation Services’ Category. KLAS ranking spends a great deal of time determining the best EMR Activation companies in the nation. Ranked organizations provide security for leadership, as they have already completed reference calls and background checks. While it is not to be used as the sole determinant, it helps provide a picture of which companies are the top organizations to open a productive dialogue.

Vendor selection is painstaking – and for good reason. The Go-Live event is highly visible and will show how well your team has worked and prepared. Selecting the right vendor will play a big part in how well your project delivery and staff adoption are perceived.

These are just five of the many questions that your organization should be asking as you find the perfect match for your upcoming EMR Go-Live.

For more information on EMR support vendor selection, make sure to check out HCI’s EMR Go-Live e-Book, as well as our EMR Go-Live services page.

Topics: Go-Live Support

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