6 signs of a quality EHR optimization partner

If you’ve experienced a home renovation project, or watched one unfold on TV, you probably know that one of the most challenging aspects of the project isn’t the reno itself – it’s finding a reliable contractor. A good contractor should anticipate a homeowner’s needs, helping to navigate the unforeseen issues that pop up during a reno. A bad one, well, won’t. And homeowners are often left to deal with a project that’s delayed, over budget, and could lead to even more repairs down the road.

Just as a home reno needs a dependable contractor, so too does your EHR optimization project. An experienced, independent partner can effectively guide you through the process of remodeling and reconfiguring your system to make it more functional, efficient, or updated. They’ll also pinpoint and resolve any major issues with your EHR build – similar to a contractor who can spot the signs of troubles lurking beneath your kitchen floors.

And, most importantly, you need an expert who will help you achieve a solid foundation upon which you’ll implement these enhancements – that is, you need a strategy for governance and change management that enables sustainable, ongoing system enhancements.

There’s a lot at stake with both projects – namely time, money, and trust. So, when searching for an EHR optimization partner, how do you know you’re making the right choice?

Aside from pulling industry references and doing online research – which we absolutely recommend – there’s a lot you can learn during your initial discussions with a potential partner. If you’re unsure of which characteristics to look for, here are six qualities of a partner who will help deliver the EHR system of your dreams.

1. Offering proactive solutions

PatHingley_2019 -3_cropped blog-1Referring back to my home reno analogy, you know you’re working with a quality contractor when they can spot signs of potential issues within your walls before they even start demo. Good contractors will account for these issues with your estimate. Even if they don’t see anything on the surface, they should always have a contingency plan just in case. That way, you’ll rest assured your budget and timeline account for any problems that arise once demo begins.

A good EHR partner will do the same thing. You don’t want to work with a vendor who will only make cosmetic or surface-level changes. Your partner should have the experience to know what may be causing potential inefficiencies within your system, processes, or organizational structure, and the expertise to help you address these problems. They should help you lay out a detailed strategy and project plan to identify and fix the root cause of these issues.

One area they’ll look for clues is within your maintenance and support requests. A quality optimization partner will search for any patterns that appear in your users’ requests. For example, if they notice that your organization is experiencing an influx of inaccurate or missed charges within your OR, they’ll dig deeper to find and resolve what’s causing this breakdown between your processes and systems. They’ll also meet with your users, operational leaders, and stakeholders to ensure a full 360-degree review of your environment.

They won’t stop there. Once they’ve implemented new processes or revisions to your workflows, they’ll help you train your users. That way, your organization can quickly begin to experience greater efficiencies with your EHR.

2. Providing seamless expertise – from strategy and planning, through to execution

You’d probably agree that it would be silly to select a general contractor who could only produce high-quality renderings and blueprints for your reno. Same goes for your EHR optimization partner. Just like you need a general contractor who can lead you through the design and build-out phases, you need an EHR optimization partner who will guide you through every step of your project strategy, planning, and implementation phases. Someone who’s been through this process, end-to-end, many times over.

Several firms offer extensive EHR optimization strategy and planning solutions, which is great. But it’s even better for you and your teams if you select a partner who can deliver on the optimization roadmap they’ve identified during the research and planning phases. That way, they can get to work on the enhancements they’ve noted, and your project won’t suffer from stops and starts that can cost major dollars and delays.

For example, during implementation, you may not have had the capacity to add on the modules or applications your system is fully capable of supporting. You could be ready to bring on those applications but need some guidance to determine which modules are right for your organization. You’ll want to bring on a partner who can lead you through this decision-making process, as well as the change management process to ensure you’re making sustainable enhancements to your system.  

By selecting one partner to help guide you through every aspect of your EHR optimization, you and your organization will experience a more seamless project that delivers better results now and well into the future.

3. Not just confirming what you already know

Even if you’re a skilled carpenter or you know your way around a power drill, you may still hire a contractor to take on your reno project. You might not have the time to do the project yourself, or there are some areas you could benefit from the expertise of a licensed contractor – someone who’s done this type of project before.

For the very same reasons, you could be choosing to work with a firm on your EHR optimization project. You may very well have the expertise to know exactly what improvements need to be made, but you may not have the bandwidth or the right mix of team members to make it happen. If that’s the case, you should look for a partner who’s going to add value to your organization.

With that, you won’t want a partner who will simply validate your assumptions, do the work, and leave. You want a partner who will dig deeper. Someone who believes they should only have to come in and fix something once. Whether that means partnering with a firm that provides proactive solutions to isolate the root causes of your inefficiencies or works with you to create a governance and change management structure that enables a culture of continual optimization, you deserve to partner with a firm that offers solutions that are of value to your organization.

Just as a renovation project leaves a lasting impact on the footprint, functionality, and value of your home, your EHR partner’s optimization work should improve the way you and your users interact with your systems – leading to improved patient and business outcomes now and well into the future.  

4. Listening to your needs

If you bring in a contractor to provide a quote for an addition to your living room, and they come back with grand plans for your master bathroom, something’s obviously not right. Most likely, they’re not listening to your needs. Instead, they’re making you feel like they don’t have your best interest at heart.

If you’re noticing the same thing happening during your initial discussions with a potential EHR optimization partner, it’s a major red flag. Does the conversation tend to focus more on what they can do for you rather than what you need from them? You should be doing most of the talking and explaining at this point.

A good partner will take the time to listen to your needs and develop a thoughtful solution that works best for your organization. They should come with a proposal that shows they understand where you want to go and outlines how they’re going to help you get there.

5. Helping you manage competing priorities

Just like a home reno project, it’d be great if you had an unlimited budget and timeline to install all the high-tech bells and whistles – machine learning, robotics, AI, or other advancements in automation. But odds are, you don’t have an unlimited budget or timeline. You may need to pick and choose between system enhancements that are must-haves and nice-to-haves.

A valuable EHR optimization partner will help you sort your list of must-haves, keeping your main project goals top-of-mind. They should develop a strategy that helps you achieve these goals within your established timeline and budget. They should also set up your organization for future enhancements that are nice-to-haves now but will be must-haves someday. For example, they should prepare your system so you can add on all those bells and whistles – AI or other automation – in the future.

6. Flexibility and responsiveness

There’s nothing worse than experiencing a major issue during a reno project, only to find that your contractor is MIA

The same goes for your EHR optimization project. The good partners will pick up the phone and call you when challenges arise during a project. Not only will they explain the issue, but they’ll come to you with a solution. They’ll think, act, and adapt to avoid wasting valuable time and money for your organization.

By this point, it’s probably clear we believe Nordic is that quality partner who will successfully guide you through your EHR optimization project. If you’re new to Nordic or haven’t spoken with us in a while, let’s talk. We continue to grow our deep Epic roots and expand our Cerner and MEDITECH solutions to serve your ever-evolving EHR needs and organizational priorities. We’d love to listen to your specific goals to determine how best to help you reach them.


Pat Hingley is an HIT leader with over 30 years of management and executive level experience in the vendor, customer, and consulting spaces. She joined Nordic in July 2019 as managing director for the Cerner practice. Prior to Nordic, Pat was the practice VP at Atos Digital Health Solutions Consulting, where she helped build the Cerner practice from the ground up.

Topics: featured, performance improvement

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