Switching from your current home healthcare EMR software to something better is no small task. In fact, at Cubhub we find that the perceived costs and risks associated with transitioning to a new EMR are the number one reason companies stick with what they have, warts and all. And this is after they decide our software would be a clear upgrade! I ran a pediatric homecare business, so I get it. If things are working, even inefficiently, then making big changes can feel like a tempting fate.
In reality, many companies should take the leap and make a move, while others may be smart to hold off. In the following, I will try to help you decide in which camp your company falls. So let’s get to it by starting with you!
Factor #1: Leadership
If it were not annoying I would have a few page breaks between Leadership and Factor #2. Having the right people at the top of an organization is the most important thing to consider when weighing a new initiative like an EMR software upgrade. There will be people who simply don’t want or like change, others who feel like their particular module within the system has not been upgraded, and others who are so excited about the new system that they will inundate everyone with ideas for making it better. In each case, it takes clear lines of communication and authority to decide when a concern is validated and when someone is acknowledged and asked to move forward with the project. Interestingly, the factor is self-reinforcing, because companies with weak leaders are rarely willing to make any significant changes, so the fact that a new system is identified and a contract is signed usually means this box is checked.
Factor #2: Timing
I can typically make the case that any company could benefit from an upgrade to their most important operational tool, but sometimes there are circumstances that point toward staying put. For example, if a company just switched their home healthcare EMR software within the last year and the current system is able to function adequately (field staff is happy, billing and secondary claims are being submitted smoothly, etc) then it may be wise to give everyone a minute before changing again. This will keep people from questioning leadership or getting burned out from too much too fast. Another consideration is price. If you run a non-clinical business from your home with a handful of caregivers, you may not need an EMR that was built for sophisticated nursing and therapy companies because you will almost certainly be paying for features you won’t use. It probably makes sense to wait until you are more established as a company. Conversely, if you plan to stand up a new nursing or therapy company it makes sense to start with an EMR for the company you want to be rather than looking for something cheap that will require the hassle of upgrading after a year.
Factor #3: Plan
Most companies come to us because they heard great things about Cubhub and they have a specific need, such as inadequate field documentation and/or billing issues. It is always shocking how few have really thought through what they want to gain beyond these acute problems. Going through each department and identifying bottlenecks, opportunities for innovation, and potential efficiencies is essential if you want to make the upgrade worthwhile. How can you properly evaluate and implement a new system if you don’t know what problems it needs to solve for you? Of course, go back to Factor #1 above to see that good Leadership will be required to get a comprehensive plan in place. The reality is that most EMRs won’t check every box, but you may also find that if a system is a good fit it will likely have efficiencies and innovations you didn’t see possible.
So Is Your Company Ready?
Do you have a strong leadership structure in place? Is the timing right? Do you have a plan? If so, you need to consider how much of your business runs through your home healthcare EMR software (hint: almost all of it). Now think about how many factors you can control. Recruiting seems more art than science most of the time, referrals depend on tenuous relationships, and payer contract terms are often “take it or leave it.” Your EMR is one decision over which you have total command. If your system isn’t making you more efficient, more innovative, and better able to attract talent, then you should upgrade to something better (see: Cubhub).