What to Look For When Considering an ERP Solution for Your Organization
Implementing the ideal healthcare ERP (enterprise resource planning) solution is important across healthcare industry operations, regardless of the other challenges they face in size and specialty. They all face one common challenge: finding patient and employee management tools that enhance their abilities to provide quality care while avoiding unnecessary cost, risk, or inefficiencies. An increasing number of healthcare organizations are finding that healthcare ERP software helps them to meet this operational challenge head-on.
The right healthcare ERP software application provides a technological backbone that automates workflows across existing software and databases, also enabling cross-departmental reporting, tracking, and data analytics. You always have the option to build your own or to adapt the features of a general-use ERP, but the better option is a healthcare-specific solution that already includes the connectivity and cross-analytics that hospitals and other healthcare systems need for efficient data processing. Even if a prebuilt healthcare ERP platform doesn't have all of the features that your organization needs, starting from the baseline of a healthcare-focused platform offers you a simpler and more affordable process for adding on only the few specialty field-specific features not already included.
When deciding to implement or expand an ERP platform into a healthcare setting, what key factors should CIOs and other IT executives keep in mind? Your evaluation team should consider these four key factors in their search for a healthcare ERP platform, especially as new challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing regulatory changes require you to ramp up in operational efficiency.
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CONSIDERATION 1: The platform eliminates repetitive data entry and coding errors across scheduling, care management, pharmacy, and HR departments.
Many smaller healthcare organizations employ several staff dedicated to the repetitive and error-prone task of data entry that results in duplicated efforts across patient and client management tools. A strong healthcare ERP addresses the lost time, lost money, and human error that comes with repeated data entry across scheduling software, billing and reimbursement software, and CRMs. The right tool increases accuracy and efficiency by sourcing universally needed data sets from the ERP hub and channeling them to other software in the network.
Healthcare organizations of all sizes face similar data entry silos and often try to solve the inefficiencies with custom dev API connections across their network. If you find that your organization spends extensive time and financial resources on managing API connectivity, you may find that a central healthcare ERP solution better organizes these connections and perhaps requires less frequent and specialized maintenance down the road.
Healthcare ERP in Action
Let's look at an example of how healthcare ERP structures help home healthcare agencies to eliminate points of data entry, saving time and improving overall accuracy.
When a client receives care through a Medicaid, Medicare, or VA waiver program, the issuing program sends a patient-specific authorization code and other data that must be properly coded into several systems to ensure reimbursement. When this data is not properly coded, or is miscoded while transcribing data from one system to several others, the organization will likely experience a delayed reimbursement which can trigger a lengthy internal auditing process to avoid unpaid reimbursements.
With a healthcare ERP that accurately moves this data across relevant platforms, you can make sure that:
- All of the client's covered services and supplies have the proper authorization codes and subsequent billing information attached to their care profile and their EMR (electronic medical record).
- All staff who work on that client's shifts have the appropriate authorization tag attached to their employee profile in both the scheduling software and the HRMS/payroll software, matching their pay to the type of care provided.
- All bills submitted to the waiver programs will have the correct authorizations and billed hours included the first time, ensuring timely and correct reimbursement.
CONSIDERATION 2: The platform helps you manage growing and diversifying supply chain processes for PPE and vaccines.
The COVID pandemic brought into sharp focus the need to accurately integrate supply chain visibility and care delivery.
The combined use of N-95 masks across acute healthcare organizations usually averages around 25 million per year, but in the first half of 2020 alone, that group used more than 300 million of the same N-95 masks. This example shows that many healthcare organizations already maintained and distributed large supplies of medical equipment before the COVID-19 pandemic, but most had never dealt with the supply, demand, scarcity, and urgency that the pandemic brought on. With a larger and more diverse collection of medical items to track and distribute, healthcare companies need to find ERP options that accurately and efficiently connect their supply chain workflow to vendor invoicing and the specific needs of all of their facility locations.
Again, COVID-19 presents just two examples of changing supply needs that healthcare providers should consider in their ERP search include:
Better PPE Supply Chain Management
Healthcare organizations need more PPE (personal protective equipment) at a greater speed than ever before, especially when they see a spike in COVID-19 cases in one of their hospitals or congregate living facilities. It's important to find an ERP platform that will allow you to manage PPE ordering, PPE donations, PPE inventory, and PPE depletion rates. In the case of home healthcare and hospice, you may also need a more efficient way to deliver and track deliveries of PPE to employees' and clients' homes. The right ERP solution integrates inventory, shipping, billing, and even predictive analytics to help your organization get the supplies it needs for your patients and employees.
COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution and Tracking
Healthcare workers were among the first people eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and patients with chronic and critical health conditions were eligible soon after them. As the healthcare community continues to play a role in tracking and administering the vaccination process, your healthcare ERP suite should allow you to efficiently track which members of your staff and your patient pool are vaccinated. This data will be especially helpful in the patient realm, informing data like hospitalization predictive analytics.
Here are just a few features to consider when tracking vaccine data in your ERP:
- If your organization administers vaccines to patients and/or employees, your ERP should include supply chain features to track vaccine quantities, administration rates and dates, expiration dates, and supplier and delivery information. This data should also flow into your HRMS, scheduling software, and any other tools within your ERP where you want to track a person's vaccination status or any side effects that they experience.
- Even if your organization does not administer vaccines, you should consider an ERP option that enables you to track vaccinated employees in the HRMS and vaccinated patients in your CRM/medical records. This will help you to know which patients and employees are most and least at risk of getting infected.
With a healthcare ERP tool, you can make sure that data about the supply, demand, and success rates of vaccine dissemination are appropriately documented across your systems.
CONSIDERATION 3: The platform includes robust employee and patient management with built-in regulatory compliance features.
State and federal regulations change frequently in the healthcare industry via the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor, not to mention changing recommendations from organizations like WHO, CDC, and VA. Falling out of compliance with certain changes may result in only minor problems or fines for the organization. Other missteps, like a Tier 4 HIPAA violation, could result in fines as high as $1.5 million or a revoked license in severe cases.
With a healthcare ERP application designed to track compliance measures internal and external to the organization, your hospital or facility can automate the process of avoiding compliance violations. For healthcare-specific compliance features, you should look for:
- An ERP that will easily adjust to new information about regulatory changes across the platform's tools, and use sophisticated AI to monitor changing regulations on state and federal websites.
- An ERP with strong security protocols to protect PHI and avoid data breaches that lead to HIPAA violations.
- An ERP that transmits accurate employment and medical history/PHI data across databases, working to avoid human error.
- An ERP that can handle the growth in telehealth data and the needed cloud-based security to offer those virtual services.
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CONSIDERATION 4: The platform incorporates predictive analytics and AI centered on patient quality assurance.
Predictive analytics has expanded in healthcare operations, allowing healthcare providers to assess several risk factors that could lead to a critical, life-threatening incident for a patient. Your healthcare ERP platform should not only be able to keep up with this insight into your patient's health, but should be able to use that data to inform other decisions like in the following scenarios:
- If predictive analytics in your scheduling software indicate that several of your Alzheimer's and dementia patients are high hospitalization risks, your healthcare ERP program can connect data from patient EMRs with employee profiles in your HRMS and/or LMS, helping you to quickly determine which employees have the appropriate training to provide specialized dementia care to these patients.
- If a patient has been hospitalized a certain number of times in a given time period, your predictive analytics can indicate that they are high-risk, alerting your team to make care plan adjustments in your scheduling or care management software.
- If several critical incidents or health scares have occurred under the care of a particular employee, your predictive analytics may indicate that they are a high-risk employee in need of further training or termination.
- If one of your facilities has historically gone through N-95 and surgical masks at a quicker rate than others, predictive analytics can indicate that you need to increase the order quantity, frequency, or distribution of those items. This will ensure that your patients in that area never receive care from a staff member working with a lack of PPE.
Whether healthcare predictive analytics are native to your chosen ERP or live in another one of your company's applications, well-informed care and training decisions come from ERP platforms that incorporate predictive analytics.
By the end of 2021, Gartner predicts, "demands for product/service adaptability and agility will position elasticity as a top three criteria for more than 75% of enterprise technology and services purchases."
Nowhere is elasticity more important than in healthcare technology, especially as state and federal regulations for care change back office requirements for compliance on an almost daily basis. Constantly fluctuating reimbursement rates and regulations require software and systems to keep up with the changes, without losing their accuracy or increasing the time spent on single-point data entry.
Across the board, the healthcare industry has suffered from many inefficiencies in technical procedures and sophistication for years, leading to operations with data that is less accurate, more vulnerable to security breaches, and generally less insightful regarding cross-application information. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed these vulnerabilities to the world, showing that things like increased PPE supply chain management and medical practitioners providing widely available (and secure) telehealth were not wholly accounted for until they were necessary.
Healthcare ERP systems are purpose-built to alleviate these new operational headaches, helping your staff achieve a smoother workflow with more efficient work, fewer costly compliance and reimbursement mistakes, less lost revenue, more predictability in staffing, and an increased logistical handle on supply chain management. With a healthcare ERP platform, your organization has the infrastructure in place to meet ongoing and new operational challenges in the future.
Read More About Healthcare ERP Solutions:
Are you interested in finding an ERP solution that works for you, or do you want to bolster an existing solution with healthcare-specific features? Check out this ERP Software Product Selection Tool from TechnologyAdvice, and find the ERP platform that will help you roll with the punches and keep up with changes in the healthcare industry.
Read More: Three Key Advances in ERP for 2021
This article was originally published on 04-09-2021