Team evaluates products, communicates with others

When the staff of Haywood Regional Medical Center’s Home Health Services in Clyde, NC, recognized the need to automate their agency in order to handle the paperwork generated by the Outcome and Assessment Information Set, ORYX, and the prospective payment system, the first step was to put together a team of employees representing different areas of the agency, says Shannon Clark, RN, BSN, MBA, assistant vice president of Haywood Regional Medical Center.

The team members identified the agency’s needs and came up with a list of activities the system would need to perform, Clark explains. A list of vendors was developed, and a request for proposal (RFP) was designed, she adds. 

Out of the 26 vendors identified by the team to receive the RFP, 18 returned the forms, Clark says. "The members of the team assigned points for the responses and came up with the top three vendors." These vendors were invited to make presentations and conduct site visits of their facilities or other agencies that were using their products, she adds.

Throughout the process, the team members posted notes in the office to update other employees on the progress, Clark says. "We wanted all of our employees to feel like they were part of the process and to be as excited as we were about the benefits of automation. We knew that everyone had to buy in to the new system in order for it to be effective," she adds.

In addition to looking at specific products the companies offered, Clark’s team evaluated the type of technical and educational support the companies offered, how well the system integrated with the hospital’s system, and how long the companies had worked in the home health field. "We also wanted to make sure we went with a financially sound vendor so we looked at how long they had been in business and at the parent company when applicable," Clark says.

Although the agency implemented all parts of the system at the same time, a core group of field clinicians tested the field devices before they were introduced to the remaining employees, Clark says.

"We choose a group of clinicians who were enthusiastic about automation, had a positive attitude, and were open to new ideas," she says. "We also looked for people who would be good trainers because we saw them as the group that would train other employees."

Surprisingly, the employees who were most reluctant to make the change to the new system were the members of the billing staff, Clark says.

These employees had been using an automated billing system for years and were not enthusiastic about learning a new system, she says.

Once everything was up and running, they quickly saw the benefits of an integrated system that combined data from all areas, she adds.