8 Questions to Ask When Choosing Developmental Disabilities Provider Software
by Core Solutions on June 1, 2023
An EHR is a significant investment for providers of intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) services, and the last thing you want to do is buy software that doesn’t meet your needs or soon becomes dated. So, while it’s important to do your research when looking for an EHR, going straight to the source can help you get the answers you need. Knowing what questions to ask an EHR vendor about their software can help ensure you ultimately make the best purchase.
Must-Knows When Researching Developmental Disabilities Provider Software
When you’re vetting software, it’s important to think about the unique needs of your organization, its staff, and the nuances of delivering IDD services. You will likely want to ask questions about user-friendliness, which can be a big deciding factor when it comes to buying most software. But you’ll also want to consider needs specific to your different teams and the range of services an IDD population may require both inside and outside of your organization to ensure the features you are seeking will serve you now and going forward. The following questions are a great place to start.
1. Is your software built specifically for those delivering IDD services?
Traditional EHRs are usually designed with the needs of broad clinical services in mind. The needs of IDD service providers are often secondary––if even included at all. A medical client population tends to be very different from those receiving IDD services. Generally, clinical encounters and relationships are of shorter duration, whereas an IDD population will often receive services over months or even years. Clinical workflows also tend to be more uniform. Someone receiving IDD services will usually require a customized plan that reflects progress and goal setting around a unique life plan. As such, working with a vendor that offers an EHR designed specifically for the workflows, compliance considerations, forms, and dashboards that reflect the IDD service provider’s day-to-day needs and priorities is imperative.
2. Is the system interoperable?
In the past, EHR vendors offered proprietary systems that did not communicate with other vendors’ software. As a result, it was difficult to share health information between providers, which affected care coordination and having a shared understanding of an individual’s health and service needs. IDD service providers need an EHR that enables them to send and receive information from those externally who may be involved in health and service decisions, such as an individual’s primary care physician, specialists, and those who may be providing occupational, speech, or other therapies.
3. What security functions are included in the software?
Security feature types should also be considered when choosing developmental disabilities provider software. It’s important to ask the vendor what methods of encryption the software has, as well as how it handles access control and authentication. For example, is access role-based so users can only view the information necessary for them to perform their job duties? Also, ask how the vendor updates systems against new security vulnerabilities. Are they released regularly, or are they reactive? If the vendor offers remote support, examine how they will gain access to your software.
4. Is the platform built with customizable IDD service templates?
One way that EHR vendors can introduce efficiencies and best practices into IDD services is by providing templates while also ensuring easy modification to reflect industry changes over time. With the right prompts and workflows, providers can easily build service plans and access assessments, and other information they need when they need it and best ensure service consistency.
5. What does task management look like?
Another feature to seek out is automatic task triggering. In these set-ups, when one task is completed, the next one in a series is automatically assigned. Not only does such automation save time, but it codifies processes and builds in systems of accountability. As tasks automatically route to the right team member, it ensures that nothing falls through the cracks and delays are minimized.
6. Will the platform support off-site and telehealth use?
Those who provide IDD services may visit individuals in their homes or in community settings. Remote access to the platform with auto WIFI syncing is important to avoid gaps in notes and access to information.
Similarly, remote hosting of appointments via telehealth is essential. Being able to conduct appointments online extends an organization’s ability to provide support regardless of where those giving or receiving services are located.
7. Is the system adaptable to change?
Best practices and compliance issues around IDD services are constantly changing, and technology needs to be able to adapt to these changes. EHRs that are designed around modifiable templates, forms, and workflows will make it easier to incorporate rule-based changes. If there are new evidence-based practices or new payer requirements, software needs to be able to be updated easily.
8. How long is a typical rollout, and what can we expect?
As you compare developmental disabilities provider software, you’ll want to consider the ability to get the new system up and running as soon as possible. Vendors should be able to tell you how long it will take to implement their EHR and walk you through a typical rollout in an IDD setting that is most like yours. Some features automatically make for easier implementation and adoption. For example, a modular design and customizable templates make for simpler implementation and scaling. If the vendor has designed the EHR specifically for IDD services, they should have familiarity with your organization’s priorities. They’ll also be able to suggest the most efficient and effective way to guide staff through the rollout.
Any new software is going to have a learning curve. But those with platforms set up around role-based templates will tend to support the easiest adoption and peer training. With such an approach, users can get up to speed faster and feel more comfortable using the software. The vendor should also provide ongoing support throughout the life of your agreement.
Narrowing Your List of Developmental Disabilities Provider Software
If you have any concerns before buying an EHR, be sure to bring them up with vendors. It’s a big decision and you want to make sure the software is a good fit.
Before you purchase developmental disabilities provider software, you’ll want to make sure you understand how it works. It can be difficult to determine fit and ease of use from a brief demo. Ideally, a vendor should be able to walk you through use with the types of workflows you envision. Some may even give you access to the system to test different scenarios before you commit to a full purchase. You will also want to get input from members across your team, from leaders making strategic business decisions based on performance metrics and projections to those in direct care roles who will need to navigate day-to-day service decisions quickly. This input from multiple stakeholders will help you make an informed final decision.
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