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Five Software Mistakes

It seems that everyone is concerned about what the future might hold for healthcare and in response, money is being spent very conservatively. Software is a significant expense for agencies but regardless of what software you use and how much you pay for it, there is a very good chance that you are wasting agency resources. Below are five common mistakes that I see with clients concerning software.

  1. Investing in software but not in staff. The staff must be knowledgeable about not only what the software does but the uses for these functions in an agency. There is a huge difference between a data entry clerk who enters claims and true billing staff who knows how to run reports to follow up on billing, ensure accuracy and preempt problems. In other words, why would someone run a delayed EOE report if they didn’t know what to do with it once it was printed.
  2. You’ve invested in a hotshot billing person who understands the software perfectly and then she goes out of town and billing is a wreck. Why? Mistake number two is hiring people who do not communicate and teach well. Every high level biller should be able to communicate with nurses, office staff and senior management. It is a very frequent occurrence that ‘nursing’ and ‘billing’ are at odds with each other. For all new hires, I recommend that new employees spend a day in the field with a nurse and a day in the billing office regardless of their position.
  3. Have you ever noticed how regardless of what a person feels about Microsoft, there is usually a copy of MS Office on their computer? There are other programs that will do what office does but we still spend big bucks on Microsoft products for a couple of reasons. First of all, everyone knows how to use them. Secondly, they are reliable. I resent having to pay for software. It is like buying gas for my car. Part of me feels as though I have already paid for the car – what more do they want from me??? But I buy gas to make sure my car runs and I pay for software so I can use my computer.
  4. Hardware today is basically cheap. Honestly. Five hundred bucks will buy a brand new, fast machine. So why, when I walk into offices do I see machines that could easily be in a museum somewhere? It is unreasonable to expect that your software will run efficiently on a machine that was top of the line in 1972.
  5. Finally, networked computers should be protected at all times. Nobody means to download viruses or other damaging programming to their machines. Furthermore, I personally don’t have a problem is someone sits at their desks during lunch and plays solitaire while they eat. However, unlimited internet access can lead to near fatal or fatal mistakes. You wouldn’t buy a Ferrari and neglect the insurance, would you?

Please feel free to add to the list. It could go on and on but before embarking on any software adventure, the priorities of the agency must be determined. If your agency is big enough that software can make or break you, go for the best – whatever that might be for you.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Maurice Moss #

    Great piece. I would add to point two by examining the help tools provided by the provider. In home health, we are known for customizing processes for a variety of reasons. Whatever the reason, the vendor should provide help tools in print and online formats. These default help tools will most likely be the foundation from which internal superusers develop custom manuals for their home health agency in order to expand the knowledge base throughout the agency. If a vendor has not invested in help tools for users to empower themselves, chances are your agency is absorbing the cost in large user fees to support the vendor’s support call center.

    Point four is excellent! When a user has inferior equipment, it’s harder to know if the problem is the user, the hardware or the software application (they do have bugs). The appropriate equipment means less trouble shooting time and identifying training issues much faster.

    May 8, 2010
  2. Susan Johnsen #

    I want to tell a story about a computer system roll out —- a long time ago. I worked for Kimberly QualityCare and we added ‘computers’ to our desktops back in 1992ish. (Dummy terminals with limited functionality) They didn’t do much. So several years later, in 1998, Olsten Health Services (who we now were) spent a fortune and updated the entire thing. Instead of dummy terminals, we had PCs. We were in heaven.

    Much of the office staff had a lot of fear of the new computers. OHS did one thing that to this day I think was right. They did not limit internet access, pretty much at all (except porn sites). You could not only play solitaire, you could shop on eBay (eBay back then was much more a bargain hunter’s paradise).

    Whether it was calculated or serendipity, staff who were afraid of using the computer got used to it. Navigating our intranet and internet and the new software was easier for those that grew less afraid.

    Computer fear is less common in newly hired office staff these days. It’s still not uncommon in older nurses who move into a POC system or even an office job. I am surprised every day with those who cannot figure out how to email a file! I think if they allowed themselves to play, it would go along way to curtail that fear.

    May 21, 2010
  3. Susan Johnsen #

    Going to add one more comment:

    Many times the people sent to you from the vendor to educate your staff and work on process development know their product but are totally ignorant of what really goes in a home health agency. If I were free to interview companies, after my most recent experience, I would ask about staff qualification and knowledge and even ask to interview the people would be sent to my agency to help.

    Remember salesman are paid to sell you a product. We didn’t have a lot of choice and what we got was better than what we had but I have been incredibly disappointed with the vendor staff, from their project managers on down.

    May 28, 2010

    • I forwarded your comment to some vendors. I think it is an important message for them to hear.

      May 28, 2010

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