Best of Breed vs. Single-vendor Integrated Solution for Your EHR & RCM

Sure, it sounds easier, maybe even cheaper, to purchase clinical (EHR) and revenue cycle management (RCM) applications from a single vendor. Most vendors will even require you to do so, holding your practice hostage to an EHR developed either in-house or by a preferred partner.

While this approach may simplify your decision making and support processes, what happens if these all-in-one solutions don’t meet the needs of your patients and staff? Here are three important questions to consider when making your decision:

 

Is it better to hire multiple RCM consultants, or a single interface expert?
There’s an old saying that applies to these situations: A penny wise, a pound foolish. A single vendor approach could make sense if an EHR and an RCM were the only two vendor-provided applications in your facility. (Ah… one can dream.) However, since most modern hospitals have hundreds of vendors in place – the average healthcare organization now uses approximately 928 cloud applications – should you really compromise quality simply to reduce your vendor count from, say, 100 to 99? Especially for two of the most important application domains in your hospital?

Take your RCM solution, for example. When the RCM solution provided by your best choice EHR vendor is NOT the best RCM choice for your hospital, you will have to contend with lost time-to-value, not to mention the additional costs of hiring even more staff to make a one-size-fits-all solution actually, well, fit your facility.

So when making your decision, ask yourself: Are you willing to settle for a less capable RCM solution to avoid a single additional interface? And, is it really cheaper to hire a team of RCM consultants rather than a single interface expert?

 

Is it worth it to prioritize the needs of one department over another in the long run?
Continuing with our RCM example, the result of prioritizing the needs of your clinical staff over those of your business staff will be unnecessary tension between your two most important departments. In a single-vendor situation, your business team will be tied to an application selected primarily to solve the needs of clinical staff. Your business team will then be charged with “making it work,” inevitably leading to a slew of consultants, additional hires, and, inevitably, resentment. This can be harmful to your hospital’s performance in the long run, especially as the rise of big data continues to require stronger bonds between clinicians and business staff.

Be sure to ask yourself what you are compromising in the long run when you conform to the demands of a single-vendor during system selection and negotiation. Or, in the single-vendor case, lack of negotiation.

 

Will your RCM choice breathe life into your hospital, or will it stifle growth?
A good EHR is necessary for improving diagnostics and patient outcomes. A good RCM is critical to maintaining the financial performance of your hospital, allowing you to deliver quality care, finance expansion, and increase executive bonus plans, just to name a few. Too many hospitals seem to assume that any EHR or RCM will do – that is, until denials reach the millions of dollars, days in A/R creep into the 50s or 60s, and revenue is negatively impacted through lost reimbursements.

Simply put, there is too much at stake for your hospital to compromise on an EHR or RCM solution that does not meet their specific needs, no matter the vendor.