The right technology can help your organization optimize reimbursement, streamline disjointed workflows and minimize revenue cycle-related expenses. But with so many different vendors touting their own version of the solution, the vetting and decision-making process can be overwhelming.
Should you just go with the revenue cycle product that your EHR platform offers? On one hand, your organization already has familiarity with the company that supports it. But on the other hand, was the product really made with optimizing revenue cycle processes in mind?
Or, should you go with the product that everyone is buzzing about as the “latest and greatest” solution? It’s probably safe to go with that, right?
Don’t underestimate the impact that wrong vendor relationship can have on your organization’s bottom line. At best, a difficult implementation can cause disruptions and havoc; at worst, it can force bankruptcy.
So, what should you do to make sure you’re partnering with the right revenue cycle vendor? Focus on asking the right questions during the selection process to ensure you’re choosing the best partner—and product—for your organization. Shenell Blackmon suggests covering the following topics when evaluating any potential revenue cycle company and its products:
Needs assessment: For some hospitals, the vendor selection process comes down to cost. But be careful, because you may not realize how much functionality you’re giving up for a better price. Blackmon recommends going into any vendor vetting process with a comprehensive list of your organization’s needs. If the vendor offers a variety of pricing options, take the time to really understand the differences—specifically what you’renot getting by not paying more.
System configuration: Even the most turnkey solutions require some customization. How well is the vendor willing to get to know your organization and business rules in order to ensure the system can be configured? Ask about the information they’ll need for configuration. It’s also important to ensure you have the right subject matter experts in your organization who can fulfill these information requests accurately and completely. Without this, correctly configuring the system would be near impossible.
Training: Learning as you go shouldn’t be an option. Good training—before the new system is live and on a regular basis—ensures maximum adherence to best practices. Find out what kind of training is included with the solution. Blackmon suggests the following questions:
• How many hours of training will you provide during implementation and to whom?
• Are the training materials specific to our organization, or is this the same training program you use with all customers?
• Who are your trainers? What are their qualifications?
• What about the different competency levels and learning styles of our users? How will you meet everyone’s needs?
• What follow-up training will you provide and is there an additional cost?
References: Ask the vendor for references—other organizations similar to yours that can speak to the implementation process and product satisfaction. Reach out to your counterparts at those hospitals to get the real scoop.
On-time Implementation Rate: A vendor’s on-time implementation rate can certainly reflect vendor excellence. But it can just as easily be a case of cutting corners to meet deadlines at whatever cost. Don’t give too much credence to a vendor’s on-time implementation rate, but still ask about it during the vetting process. The way a vendor responds will reveal how committed they are to follow all the steps needed for implementation, even if it causes delays. While hitting a go-live date is always tempting, it’s more important to do the due diligence to make sure the system works for your organization.
Testing: One of the ways a vendor can still meet your go-live date is by cutting short the testing phase. You may hit the date, but it won’t take long for you to experience the fallout of skipping steps. Before implementing a new product, its functionality should be tested throughout your organization to identify any potential issues that may arise.
Not only should vendors be able to talk about a testing plan, they should be able to give you an idea of the timeline. If they allow only a few days and no extra time for revisions, you can be certain that getting things right the first time isn’t a priority.
Support: Most vendors are on site for implementation, but what happens after that phase has ended? A partner shouldn’t just disappear, never to be seen again. Your choice of revenue cycle vendor should say closely engaged and maintain an on-site presence to continue training, observe the need for system corrections, provide performance and functionality reports that show positive movement, and help brainstorm strategies for continuous improvement. It’s important to be fully involved in the vendor selection process so that your organization can objectively pick the company that fits all your needs. From implementation, to testing, to training, to go-live, your revenue cycle partner should be just as invested in your success as you are.