Part 1: Laying the Groundwork

Soon after implementing a new EHR, many health systems find that they are ill-prepared for the around-the-clock support, upgrades, and maintenance required. The average IT team can spend as much as 60-75% of its time on EHR support, leaving little time to focus on other responsibilities. These teams end up overworked and unhappy, while the time and resources spent on the EHR can increase expenses. Bringing in an external EHR management partner can provide high-quality, 24-hour support at a lower cost.

However, entering an RFP process can be daunting. Where do you begin? Are you asking the right questions? Can you trust the provider to deliver on its promises?

By being deliberate and thorough during the early stages of discovery, organizations can avoid costly errors, create a smooth transition, and ensure long-term success. Before reaching out to an EHR application management vendor for a proposal, make sure you’ve first laid the groundwork.

Step 1: Define your requirements

First, assess the challenges and issues you currently face. Why do you want an application management partner? The more specific the better. Clearly identifying your goals will ensure you are selecting a partner with the capabilities to fulfill your needs.

Step 2: Create a change management plan

When you partner with an external team to manage and support your EHR, you are essentially welcoming these individuals into your hospital. They will supplement your team and become an extension of your organization’s brand and culture. Determine your expectations for how individuals will interact with your in-house employees and how they will be integrated into the team.

Step 3: Determine your security requirements

Not only will these individuals be privy to internal information, but they are also handling sensitive patient health information. Determine your requirements on access and confidentiality, as well as your expectations of the extent and frequency of the auditing process.

Step 4: Define standard service level agreements

Determine your organization’s expectations around SLAs so that you can ensure that your vendor partner is delivering the level of service you require. You will also want to define the metrics by which you will evaluate service as well as penalties should a vendor not fulfill it.

Step 5: Develop a detailed RFP to garner in-depth proposals

Once you have determined what you need in an EHR application management vendor, you’re ready to create an RFP. Rely on the details and standards you have set to craft questions and requests for specific information. Additionally, you will want to get a clear picture of the vendor itself – financial stability, delivery and operations, flexibility, pricing options, breadth of services, references, supporting technologies, etc. The more detailed the information you require, the more thorough your assessment of potential vendors can be.

Once the RFP process is underway, it’s time to evaluate responses. Stay tuned for Part 2, which will delve into what to look for in a vendor response.