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More and more community health systems and community private physicians are considering partnering with a larger health system to implement Epic Community Connect.  Why? Many reasons, most being for the continuity and safety of patient care. Sharing patient data creates a full view of the care team, providing test results, inpatient stays along with primary and specialty care all at a glance. Being on the receiving end can cause some anxiety. How do you keep autonomy as you integrate your data and potentially your IT staff with the “mother ship”?

Make sure the contract has everything to meet your goals and long-term focus on patient care. To come to an agreement on both sides, the process may take several months. Taking the time now to scrutinize the plan will save on unrealized costs later. Here are a handful of top questions to start thinking about as you start strategy planning and negotiations with a larger health system offering you Community Connect. Getting answers to these basic questions will trigger additional considerations.

  1. How long is the contract?
  2. How much are you paying for Community Connect? Are you being offered a donation through the Stark Law? If so, is there wording about what happens to the pricing structure once the exemption expires?
  3. What is included in the fees? Does this include build/design, workflow analysis, elbow support, help desk, etc.?
  4. What are your responsibilities pre and post implementation? Usually hardware and networking but there may be 3rd party license fees being passed along to you.
  5. What is the Service Level Agreement (SLA)? How soon will your issues be addressed? What is the turnaround for security requests?  What is acceptable downtime? These are just a few examples of what to ask for in the SLA.

Don’t let these questions fool you. There are many more questions that need to be asked. Most firms are focusing on assisting large health systems with implementing Epic Community Connect to the smaller community hospital or private physician practice.  Optimum Healthcare IT focuses on both! If you are a community health system or a private physician’s office, you have much to consider before signing on the dotted line.

As a smaller organization, there are significant benefits that include training, application resources, and affordability. With these benefits also come challenges and risks such as decreased decision-making autonomy.

You need to properly prepare to ensure that your organization gets everything that it needs. If you are interested in learning more about how Optimum Healthcare IT can get all of your questions answered, contact us today for a pro bono on-site visit to evaluate your current strategy with all levels of the organization.

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