Are your Healthcare IT “Apps” Up to Date?

Bob BainYour Healthcare IT Apps are Sizable Investments

By Bob Bain, Consulting Manager & Sr Healthcare Consultant, Hayes Management Consulting
Twitter: @HayesManagement

In today’s world of smart phones, we are constantly reminded of updates to our applications (apps) that are available for download. However, do you know if there is an update for any of your healthcare system apps? These applications cost thousands or millions of dollars to purchase and install, handle critical personal patient data, test results and other information pertinent to the safe delivery of care to your patients.

Most of these apps do not come with friendly reminders to update. In fact, unless you have a service plan, you may not know that updates are available. Some updates may be minor fixes that do not impact patient care; however, many updates, patches and hotfixes will have an immediate impact and improvement to some aspects of patient care.

So what do you need to do? First, catalog them. The simplest way to do this is to create a spreadsheet including the name, vendor, date of purchase, departments that use it, department contacts, cost of purchase, current version, last date of upgrade, whether a service contract is in effect, cost of service contract, and the date the service contract expires. Also, date the spreadsheet to know when it was created and updated moving forward.

If you are beginning from scratch, it may take some time to compile this information as there are probably dozens of applications in use by your organization. You will need to talk with department leaders who use the applications and contact your contract or legal department to obtain a copy of the purchase contract. This will show you exactly what you purchased and from whom.

Once you compile your baseline information, contact the vendors and determine if updates/patches/ hot fixes are available. Decide how critical these updates are and whether they are worth the investment. Something to consider: Do you still need this app? Are there better choices on the market today that were not available when you made your initial purchase? Explore and investigate!

If you have a service contract, you are probably paying for the updates and installation assistance from the vendor. If you do not, you may have to pay for the update – and it may be worth it. While there may be some urgency to install critical updates, be sure that it is well planned. If other organizations have installed the update, were they successful? Does the update have any bugs or negative consequences? Do you have a test environment that you can install the upgrade on to ensure compliance within your organization’s policies and protocols? Does end user testing need to be performed? If so, are training documents available from the vendor or do you have to create your own? Do workflows need to be modified? Do processes need to be tweaked? Understand and deploy your update to maximize its positive impact on your organization. Prior to go-live, ensure that you test and validate all aspects of the application to know where your data is today and where it will be after the update.

Lastly, make sure that you inform and train end-users about the update if applicable. Do workflows need to be modified? Do processes need to be tweaked? Understand and deploy your update to maximize positive impact on your organization.

Bottom line: Do not let the sizable initial investment that you made in the application give you diminishing returns because you do not have the latest updates and benefits from the software. One thing is sure with software these days – change is constant.

This article was originally published on Hayes Management Consulting and is republished here with permission.