Technology is always changing, and staying on trend can take more time and effort than you have available. When it’s time to invest in healthcare technology for your facility, how do you know which products will improve the patient experience and save money, and which are unnecessary and overpriced?
From a new EHR to an upgraded network, data storage to phone systems, you need investments that will yield the best returns — whether monetary or in the form of increased efficiency. Keeping the following things in mind will help you spend your money wisely.
Involve the Entire Staff in the Decision
As a savvy healthcare administrator, you’re thoroughly familiar with all aspects of your facility’s operations and budget. But frequent meetings and budget sessions can mean you don’t always spend as much time on the front lines as you’d like. That’s why it’s vital to involve staff members who will be using new technology in purchase decisions.
Ask employees to prepare information about departmental workflow and the limitations of current technologies. You’re likely to receive some valuable information that will help you decide which device to buy.
Let’s say you need to buy a new mobile X-ray system. Your staff complains that the current mobile machine takes too long to charge. If you buy a mobile machine that continues to work while it’s charging, you’ll eliminate downtime and image even more patients.
It’s easy to buy more than you need, particularly if you’re dealing with something like cloud computing services. One of the advantages of cloud computing is that you only need to pay for the storage, memory and virtual CPUs you need. Cloud computing requires a significant investment, but using this technology can increase cash flow because you’re no longer spending money on capital expenditures (computer equipment), but on operational expenses.
Whether you’re investigating a move to the cloud or considering other new technology, it’s important to determine whether you need the full package the company’s sales representative recommends. For example, although you may need to pay more for a private cloud for sensitive information, you can probably put some less sensitive information, such as Internet content, on a less expensive public cloud.
Look for Proven Solutions
Technology should help you solve a problem. Before you finalize next year’s budget, look at your problems and deficiencies. Perhaps you’re unhappy with the virtualization of your facility’s records. A new Electronic Health Records (EHR) system will allow you to digitize charts, records and test results and make them available with just the click of a mouse. With EHR, there are no more worries about deciphering handwriting or missing a key finding because it still hasn’t made it into the patient’s chart.
Get the Details
No matter the type of technology you buy, it’s important to make sure you know exactly what you’ll receive and how much it will cost before you sign a contract. After your staff has tested the technology and agreed on a vendor, ask for detailed information about the following:
- Price: How much will it cost to set up the system? What type of equipment will you need to buy? How often will the equipment or software need to be upgraded? What are the annual fees? Will you need to pay to migrate data?
- Support: How much support will the company provide? What type of training will be offered? Can you support computer-related technology in-house or will you need to hire an additional staff member?
- Integration: How will the new system integrate with your current system? How long will integration take? In the case of an EHR system, who will enter old paper records into the new system? Will the new system integrate with your billing system and practice management software?
Consulting your IT staff or consultants is an important first step when you’re considering new technology. The IT department can provide valuable information on the capabilities of your servers and other systems, provide advice on security and offer vendor suggestions in some cases. Most importantly, choosing the right technology will ensure you continue providing the best experience possible to each and every patient.
Looking for more tips on helping your organization improve the patient experience? Check out The Ultimate Patient Satisfaction Checklist.