News Feature | June 26, 2014

VAR Best Practices Can Boost Client Satisfaction With Healthcare IT

By Megan Williams, contributing writer

HIPAA Audits Postponed

Any healthcare solutions provider worth their salt knows that the customer experience can make or break the success of an IT system. The most sophisticated software means very little if the solution doesn’t fit in with clinical and operational needs or if facility staff aren’t properly trained.

For example, right now, Athens Regional Health System is in the middle of trying to navigate physician frustration and patient endangerment blamed on an EHR implementation. The system was considered too “aggressive” by hospital physicians and could have been the root of communication problems that lead to medical errors.

With some planning though, there are ways to keep the needs of your healthcare customers and users in mind, as well as boosting long-term satisfaction of IT for your clients — and better client relationships for you.

Maintain (And Apply) Best Practices

Best practices in IT are a given, but healthcare can offer up some challenges that you’re less likely to see in other industries. You probably have your own standards, but a report (available from Healthcare IT News) offers some good starting considerations for refreshing and improving what you already have in place.

  • Consider practice size. While some concerns, like impact on productivity, apply to healthcare entities ranging from one-physician practices to your largest hospital systems, others can vary by size. Large practices, for example, generally have complex billing systems in place that allow for things like electronic registration and scheduling. They likely already have an idea of how they’d like to use EHRs in their current environment and are prone to focus on other technical challenges. A smaller practice on the other hand, is concerned about not having dedicated IT staff. This presents as challenges on both the educational side, but also in determining what technology is most appropriate in addressing the times they won’t have tech staff around to help once the implementation is done.
  • Manage change. Any provider looking at EHR systems is going to be concerned about usability … how long will it take for clients to learn to use the system? Is navigation involved? Is training and support available post-implementation? Issues like these need to be identified addressed in meaningful and proactive ways. GE Healthcare’s Director of Product Management, Joann Kern looks at it this way: “From the software vendor side, we see our customers as being most successful when we work with them through a formal change management process that’s baked into our implementation process.”
  • Integrate with existing practice management systems. EHRs deliver the most value (and the happiest customers) when integrated with the practice management systems that providers already have in place. That means keeping meaningful use and patient-centered medical home requirements and customized care plans in mind. It also means going beyond just coordinating care, and actually coordinating caregivers and managing populations.

Remember The People

Think of the customer — and ultimately, the patient. This means being mindful of the hectic nature of healthcare work and communicating with staff and clinicians in ways that involve them and provide comprehensive information while not overburdening them with unnecessary jargon. Ultimately though, the entire IT backbone of any healthcare entity is about the patient. Make an effort to relate to your clients that you both understand, and are on board with the industry shift toward a patient-centered focus, and you’ll put a lot of their concerns at ease before they even arise.

Looking to go deeper into customer satisfaction when implementing your next EHR project? Familiarize yourself with some of the challenges that your clients are facing around EHR adoption requirements, and read up on new research on EMR software applications and customer satisfaction trends in this study from TCS Healthcare Technologies.