There’s no shortage of care management software vendors out there, each emphasizing different strengths.
We’ve come across a lot of articles about what software features to avoid, but relatively few about what should be part of the package. Here are five items we believe virtually all practices need in their their care coordination software (CCS).
First, let’s define care coordination, as this may mean different things to different people. In this context, we will borrow from AHRQ’s broad definition: a deliberate organization of patient care activities that includes personnel and other resources, often managed by information exchange among parties, including the patient.
Your Care Coordination Software Must Have
- Superior customer service and technical support. Technically, this isn’t part of a software package, but a service from vendor. You will need technical support, particularly during the first critical few months working with a new software package.
Be sure that you only speak with companies that have robust customer support delivered in a format that works best for your practice: phone (in which case you may want to consider 24/7 support), email, chat, video tutoring, etc.).
- Compatibility with your electronic medical record system. Most care CCS recognizes the major EMRs, but it never hurts to make sure everyone is compatible. Make sure to ask how closely the company works with your EMR’s owner. For example, do they get an early warning about EMR updates and can they update the CCS in a timely manner?
- Strong security. It almost goes with saying: HIPAA penalties are severe. Everything in the CCS must be HIPAA-compliant. And since most of today’s offerings are software as a service (SaaS) and deployed from the cloud, ask about the security on the server side. What tools do they use? What professional qualifications do they have? Organizations like the Cloud Security Alliance provide security certifications; ask if their staff have had special cloud security training.
While you’re adjusting to the new system, make it a condition for your staff to regularly update their system passwords. You (or your IT staff contact or vendor) can require them to change their passwords every several months. Security is like a chain, and old or easy passwords are the weak links hackers exploit.
- Automation of your routine tasks. The best thing about software like this is that it automates routine tasks. Just make sure the software you select provides the automation you need most. Remember, it works for you, not the other way around!
- Mobile-friendly. You may need to use the software outside your office, so make sure it works on the tablets or smartphones you and your staff use. Make sure mobile devices are secure and protected by strong passwords.
To Ask Care Coordination Companies
Here are a few potential red flags Healthcare IT News suggests you look out for:
- Proprietary systems. Ask how flexible the platform is and whether there are APIs (a techie term) solutions that let you share necessary information with local hospitals, specialists, and other entities.
- License fees. A pay-as-you-go structure is almost always less expensive and lets you add new functions as you need them.
- Flexible data analytics. Most care coordination needs more than claims data to examine and analyze. Make sure the software you select allows broader health analytics, particularly if you participate in clinical studies or drug trials.
Mastering a new tool will take some time. If the end result are stronger communication and data gathering and analysis tools, you’ve done right by your patients and colleagues. For any topic-related questions, reach out to us at Hybrid Chart. We are happy to help!
Dr. Gregory Sanders is a Harvard-trained, practicing cardiologist and founder and CEO of HybridChart. He has been coding since the 1980s and has spent his medical career focusing on improving processes. His patient care skills earned him recognition as one of Phoenix Magazine’s TOP DOCs. He lives in Scottsdale with his family.