Selecting the right home healthcare software will be critical for maintaining and growing your practice. It’s a big decision that can have positive – or negative – outcomes for you in the years ahead. As you move forward and begin to consider various options, we have some advice for you: Take your time. You won’t be able to make this decision overnight. Get your team involved, do some research and testing, really understand the pricing. All these things take time. So, grab a cup of coffee, settle in and consider these seven steps as you begin your journey towards buying and integrating your new software.
Your first job is to assess. Pull together all the information you have about your existing software, hardware, and relationships with various vendors and cloud services. You’ll probably need to create a folder with an index to keep everything organized. You’ll need this information handy as you go through the research and sales process, so take time to collect and catalogue information about what you’ve got.
This is a good time to generate a list of questions to pose to key members of your organization and vendors. The list might include questions like:
- How many people will use the new software?
- How many members of your teams will need to access the software through tablets, smartphones, or remotely?
- Exactly how big is your agency, and what plans are there for growth over the next 5 – 10 years?
- When are peak use times for your agency?
- Bring in your team
Next, you need to realize two important things: You can’t do this alone, and you’ll need buy-in from all your teams, so host a launch meeting. Invite key managers from all relevant departments, including:
- Your clinical team in the field
- Office support staff including schedulers
- Accounting and billing
- Marketing and analytics team
- Key partners and vendors who may be impacted by new software
Use this meeting to get the team excited about the idea of new home healthcare software, and to listen. Ask really good questions about the systems they use now, find out what they like about the systems and what bothers them the most. This meeting will be the basis for the next phase of the process.
From your team in the field, to the appointment setter in the office, and your accountants, give everyone a research task. Ask them to spend the next week looking at the systems they use currently and making notes on how the systems work and how their job could improve with an update. Ask them to network with friends in the industry to find out what kind of software they’re using, and at the end of the week, bring them back to share their lists and ideas with the rest of the team. The information your team gathers may give you some good ideas about home healthcare software systems that are out there, and you’ll now have a wish list from each team of the features they’d like to see in a new system, which might include:
- The ability to run software on any device so it is easier to work in the field
- Communication tools with doctors, pharmacies, and more
- Apps that can access patient charts, medication tables, and other critical information
- Ability for the software to integrate with various insurance plans as well as compliance with OASIS
- Billing and financial features that help track billing and payments
- Scheduling features
- Reporting capabilities for all facets of the organization – from patient progress to billing status
- Lots of up-to-date compliance features
- Get real
Now it’s time to start pulling ideas together and really look at software. Once you dig into the research your team has done, you’ll find some unifying ideas. Identify the key pain points your teams articulate about software, and make a working list of the features that each team is hoping for in a new program. With their suggestions about software products they’ve heard about or had the chance to use, you can start looking at actual products.
- Envision your future
Now that you’re armed with information, you can shop. Some programs you look at will be out of reach for you for one reason or another – they don’t have a key feature that everyone in the office wants, or the price is astronomically high – so as you shop, you should be able to narrow the list down to a few products. Begin thinking of these products as reality as you envision how each will work in your environment. Think about how each product will work with your legacy systems, how the employees will embrace it, and what the product’s long-term implications are for you company.
- Test it
The fun part is testing the software. Some products allow you a free trial, others require a chat with a salesperson to get you set up on a test server. Find out how you and your team can test out the software. The team’s buy-in is really important, so develop a few steps for them that might include:
- Setting up testing times team-by-team
- Working with the software vendor to set up familiarization and training sessions so that you’re not just putting the teams in front of the software and saying “go”
- Providing team members with a format of how to review the software and give their opinions so that you get consistent feedback from each team
- Conducting a group session where all the teams can hear each other’s opinions
Your testing phase may be the most important phase of the buying process. With luck, the teams will reach consensus on one or two products, so now it’s just a matter of price.
- Price and purchase
When your team reaches consensus, there’s a few last questions to ask about pricing. Find out how pricing is structured. Will you have to pay per-person, or monthly? Can you get a short- or long-term contract? Work with your finance team and even your own salespeople to make sure you know the right questions to ask.
Additionally, make sure you have all the information you’ll need on implementation, from making sure that the software integrates with all of your current hardware and software needs, to being certain that the company will be there to support you through the launch of your new software, to training, and ongoing development.
There’s no doubt about it, picking software isn’t an easy process. But bringing in your teams will make all the difference – you’ll get feedback and help with research, and ultimately, being asked for an opinion and being heard will make your teams feel like they were part of the decision, so your transition will be much easier.