Healthcare management systems, also known as healthcare information management systems, are designed to help healthcare providers collect, store, retrieve and exchange patient healthcare information more efficiently and enable better patient care.

These technology projects — which are often compliance-driven — can require significant investments in time and resources. When selecting and implementing a healthcare management system, providers should keep three things in mind.

1. There are two main types of healthcare management systems — electronic health records (EHR) and practice management — which organizations will need to evaluate, depending on their size, business needs, and compliance demands.

Many healthcare providers are moving to EHR systems to meet the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) compliance deadline in 2015; others are doing it simply to modernize their operations.

Practice management software solutions, which can be connected to EHR systems, are typically used by small and midsize medical practices to organize specific details about patients and the care that they receive from the practice.

2. Most healthcare management systems, especially for large healthcare providers, are delivered as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions.

Because the software is delivered on demand via the cloud, and not through internal systems, healthcare providers need to be especially mindful about maintaining the privacy and security of PHI (patient protected health information).

When choosing a SaaS vendor to deliver their healthcare management system, providers therefore need to ask, and receive clear answers for, a number of questions, such as:

  • How do you keep data secure?
  • Where is the data stored?
  • How do your practices fulfill our compliance requirements, such as with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)?

3. A healthcare management system is much more than an IT project.

Implementing a new technology infrastructure and digitizing clinical and patient information are only parts of the process of moving to a healthcare management system. There is also a critical “people component.”

Medical professionals who will be using the system every day — doctors, nurses, technicians, medical receptionists and many others — need to be engaged early in the process so they have a say in how the system is designed, receive appropriate training, and have ample time to prepare for what will be a monumental shift in how they work.

This requires that providers focus on change management from the outset of their healthcare management system project.

Many providers decide to seek outside assistance to help ensure a seamless transition to a healthcare management system. For example, they turn to project staffing services that can provide consultants with healthcare management and business systems expertise.

They may also look to compliance experts for guidance on how to implement systems that meet the requirements of HIPAA, HITECH and other relevant regulations.

For more on HIPAA compliance and other challenges facing today’s healthcare providers, visit Protiviti’s website.