How Proprietary EHR Implementation Services Promote Health IT Value

MEDITECH’s proprietary EHR implementation service aims to enhance customer-vendor communication and support advanced health IT applications.

Once healthcare organizations decide on a new EHR system, they must also choose an EHR implementation service vendor, which is perhaps just as important of a decision as the health IT itself.

Implementation service vendors are usually third-party firms certified by the EHR vendor that guide the customer through the implementation journey.

However, MEDITECH recently began its own professional services division to provide customers with proprietary EHR implementation services, and early results show success. According to a recent KLAS report, MEDITECH’s overall score for implementation services was a 95.5 out of 100, a boost compared to the market average score of 87.9 for MEDITECH-certified EHR implementation services.

The EHR vendor began providing implementation services after noticing that customers were not leveraging many of the system’s advanced features, according to MEDITECH executive vice president, Hoda Sayed-Friel, who oversees the professional services division.

Prior to leading MEDITECH professional services, Sayed-Friel oversaw client services, which consisted of implementation and customer support.

“Although my implementation team was training customers on the full breadth of the implementation, we were finding that our customers weren't going live with many of the advanced features of our product,” she told EHRIntelligence in an interview.

Sayed-Friel explained that customers were not leveraging advanced features because MEDITECH-certified firms mainly focused their guidance on ensuring the health IT implementation was completed on time and on budget.  

“We saw that they weren't doing important things like surveillance, looking at hospital acquired conditions, disease management, looking at registries, and so forth,” she noted.

“We wanted to remedy that situation and actually give our customers not only a better implementation experience, but better outcomes from that implementation and a faster return on the money that they spent on the implementation,” Sayed-Friel continued.

In 2019, Sayed-Friel put together a team of experienced MEDITECH employees, as well as individuals with business acumen from outside the company, to create the professional services division.

Sayed-Friel noted that MEDITECH knows its product better than third-party firms, inherently giving the vendor’s EHR implementation services a leg up. A deep understanding of the product and all its features is helpful in ensuring a successful implementation.

“We get trained on new features and functions before the other firms even know about those things that are coming,” Sayed-Friel explained. “With regards to understanding how our product works and the new features that are added with enhancements and updates, we know that better than anyone.”

Additionally, the professional services team and the implementation teams work together, which means that there is a consolidated project plan instead of a professional services plan and an implementation plan.

“Because we work so closely with the implementation team, tasks are synchronized and the communication across the teams is much better because it's all with internal resources,” Sayed-Friel said.

What’s more, MEDITECH cares more about the implementation’s outcome, she said.

“Any firm can get the customers live, but it's not just about getting live,” she noted. “It is about the outcomes and using the power of what was created with the EHR system to reach these goals that organizations are looking for.”

In other words, MEDITECH’s position as the vendor means it has EHR user satisfaction top of mind.

“While I respect and have great relationships with the certified firms, they get to walk away from an implementation,” she added. “We don't get to walk away, so our investment in getting the best install and the best outcomes really work downstream as well.”

Sayed-Friel explained that establishing customer relationships and communication are the hallmarks of a good implementation, as it gives the EHR vendor an opportunity to understand the healthcare organization’s unique priorities.

“Being able to sit at the table with the clients to map out the implementation, let them know exactly what's expected of their teams, what’s expected of the MEDITECH team, and how they're going to work together, is key,” she pointed out.

For example, one of the first customers that leveraged MEDITECH EHR implementation services was an accountable care organization (ACO). This signaled to Sayed-Friel that the client would benefit from population health tools.

Instead of putting population health on the back burner and maybe attending to it post-go-live, Sayed-Friel worked with the customer to integrate population health features and start looking at its patient populations from the beginning of the implementation.

She noted that after it went live with the EHR, the organization bought another application from the EHR vendor for genomics to advance precision medicine.

“There’s a smattering of things that we can do with every customer,” Sayed-Friel said.

For instance, she noted that the EHR vendor creates customized dashboards to capture social determinants of health data. These kinds of additions add value to a customer’s EHR investments and aim to help tackle mounting health equity concerns.

Most customers that implement MEDITECH EHR systems with proprietary implementation services are upgrading from prior MEDITECH releases that they implemented with third-party firms, Sayed-Friel explained.

“They already know about getting the system live,” she said. “It's not about staying where they were, replicating what they were using previously. They're upgrading and buying our products to bring them to that next level.”

She suggested that when selecting an EHR implementation service provider, healthcare organizations should examine the quality of EHR implementations a firm has been able to achieve.

Firms might note that they have gotten 20 customers live on a particular EHR system. However, the number of implementations does not say anything about how successful the implementations have been.

Instead, healthcare organizations should choose EHR implementation service vendors based on their ability to provide high value implementations in terms of return on investment.

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