Part 3: Getting Started With EHR Managed Services
After determining what you need from a managed services partner (see Part 1) and weeding through the RFP responses to select the best fit (see Part 2), it may seem like the hardest part is over. However, incorporating an external partner into your team is going to take some time and preparation to make sure you get it right. If you manage your expectations appropriately and have indeed selected the partner most aligned with your needs, smooth sailing is well within your sights. First though, it’s time to talk transition.
In the third and final part of the Choosing a Managed Services Partner series, I will cover the basics of the onboarding process, from training to tracking, so that your new managed services provider can be most effective in supporting your organization.
1. Defining the Relationship
Key to the success of a client-vendor relationship is establishing roles and responsibilities of team members on both sides. Your managed services provider should determine a clear point of contact who is committed to your needs. This person serves as the liaison between the vendor and the health system to ensure smooth operations, keep projects on schedule, and help address and rectify any issues that may arise. At HCTec, our Client Services Manager plays this role and is embedded within your team. They have intimate knowledge of your business from the IT perspective.
In addition to the Client Services Manager, we also have dedicated Implementation Managers, Executive Sponsors, Training Leads, and other experts who work in unison to achieve the project’s goals.
2. Staying in the Know
Like all relationships, the hallmark of a good managed services relationship is consistent and effective communication. Having a set communications plan will keep all parties accountable and help you move toward your objectives. This includes determining frequency of team meetings – and who should be involved – and setting standards for status reporting and regular business reviews. Also key is being intentional about measuring the success of the partnership. Work with your partner on setting Service Level Agreements (SLAs), if they have not already been established, and other methods to measure success, such as measuring the quality of patient experiences.
3. Learning the Ropes
The only way a managed services partner can effectively implement a project to meet your goals is if they truly understand your business. It will take time, effort, and a robust training program, but your ideal partner is one that can integrate seamlessly with your team. They should learn your core processes and ticketing system and know your IT operations inside and out. Having a change management plan in place will help keep things organized and avoid confusion and typical pitfalls. Your partner should also have a dedicated training program in place that can work with you to discuss any nuances to your organization and determine how the training process should be designed to work best for you. And to deal with potential turnover, they should have a plan to ensure new hires can be onboarded without disrupting workflow and overwhelming your team.
Transition timeframes can vary based on the scale and scope of each project, but you should expect initial Help Desk onboarding to last from 1 – 2 months, while your application support transition should take from 1 – 3 months. Ideally, training should be ongoing as technology and system needs change. Be sure to ask your partner about their continuous improvement team and objectives and make suggestions if there are training areas unique to your business.
4. Get Started
Once the initial onboarding process is complete, the EHR support work begins. In this phase, health systems sometimes identify the need for additional services, such as staffing. If you’ve selected the right partner, they’ll be able to help fill those needs. If your partner is more limited, you may need to begin the search for another partner to help with those additional needs. That’s the benefit of a partner that can cover all aspects of healthcare IT. They will already know your business, making the onboarding process for additional services much more streamlined.
Selecting and onboarding a managed services provider can be an involved and sometimes demanding process, but knowing what to expect and making the right decision the first time will set up health systems for future success.