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In the ever-evolving healthcare landscape, smaller community health systems and private physician practices are increasingly exploring partnerships with larger health systems to implement Epic’s Community Connect. Why? The driving force is often the desire to enhance patient care by seamlessly sharing vital patient data. This collaboration creates a comprehensive view of the care team, incorporating test results, inpatient stays, primary care, and specialty care, all within a single glance. When you find yourself on the receiving end of such an integration, it’s natural to have concerns about preserving your autonomy and ensuring a smooth transition of data and IT resources to the “mother ship.”

To navigate this intricate journey successfully, it’s crucial to scrutinize the contract thoroughly, ensuring that it aligns with your goals and long-term commitment to patient care. While reaching a mutual agreement might take several months, investing time upfront to examine the plan can prevent unexpected costs down the road. Here, we delve into the first five essential questions to consider during the strategy planning and negotiation phases with a larger health system offering Epic’s Community Connect. Addressing these foundational queries will naturally lead to additional insights and considerations.

  1. How Long is the Contract?
    • Understanding the duration of your contract is fundamental. It sets the timeline for your partnership and allows you to plan for any future transitions or extensions.
  2. What is the Cost of Community Connect?
    • Determine the financial aspects of the agreement. Are you being offered a donation under the Stark Law, and if so, what provisions are in place for pricing once the exemption expires? Clear financial expectations are vital for long-term sustainability.
  3. What Services Are Included in the Fees?
    • Clarify the scope of services covered by the fees. Does it encompass build/design, workflow analysis, elbow support, help desk assistance, and more? Knowing what’s included helps manage expectations and avoids unexpected expenses.
  4. What Are Your Pre and Post-Implementation Responsibilities?
    • Identify your responsibilities both before and after implementation. This typically includes considerations such as hardware, networking, and potential third-party license fees that might be passed on to you.
  5. What is the Service Level Agreement (SLA)?
    • Your SLA is the lifeline of your partnership. It outlines how quickly your issues will be addressed, the turnaround time for security requests, and what constitutes acceptable downtime. A robust SLA ensures that your needs are met promptly and efficiently.

While these five questions provide a solid foundation for your discussions, it’s essential to understand that many more facets exist to explore. Most consulting firms are dedicated to assisting larger health systems in implementing Epic Community Connect with smaller community hospitals and private physician practices. Optimum Healthcare IT, for instance, specializes in both scenarios, offering a unique perspective and tailored solutions.

As a smaller organization, you stand to gain significant benefits, including training, application resources, and affordability. However, it’s equally important to acknowledge the challenges and risks that come with reduced decision-making autonomy.

To embark on this transformative journey with confidence, thorough preparation is key. Ensure your organization’s needs are met by asking the right questions and seeking expert guidance when necessary. If you want to learn more about how Optimum Healthcare IT can address all your concerns and help you make informed decisions, contact us today. We will help you evaluate your current strategy and collaborate with all levels of your organization to pave the way for a successful Epic Community Connect partnership.

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