Though electronic health record (EHR) software consists of sophisticated digital technology, it is not immune to technological issues. Your behavioral health organization will encounter IT problems with your EHR from time to time. The type of EHR support services your vendor offers largely determines how your facility is able to respond to such problems.
EHR vendors will generally offer one of the following support services:
- Internal Support: In-House support staff that works directly for the vendor
- Outsourced Support: Third-Party support hired by the vendor to manage your facility’s EHR technological issues
Each type offers certain benefits so it is important to investigate which support service will best fit your facility.
To aid your facility in this decision, we have outlined the key elements of both service approaches.
Internal EHR Support Services
An internal support team is part of an EHR vendor’s company.
They oversee the EHR issues of a vendor’s clients. In this approach the support team is employed and trained by the vendor to specialize in their specific EHR.
Often, an internal support team works at your vendor’s office, too.
An internal support team consists of full time employees trained to be experts on the vendor’s EHR platform.
The idea is that skilled support staff that work in one platform over a prolonged period contributes to effective and efficient service.
Because they only fix problems in a specific EHR, an internal support team learns through repetition. Each individual employee has the opportunity to solve a wide variety of issues until they confidently understand the ins and outs of the system.
In addition, the support team as a whole builds a collective knowledge from their combined experience. No one technical issue is an isolated event for an internal support team. Each solution builds on the next, further preparing a support staff to resolve any technological issue.
Accessibility and Responsiveness
Ideally, an internal support service will be offered 24/7/365.
Though many do, this is not always the case. An EHR vendor can provide exemplary customer service, but may not be able to offer it to your organization around the clock.
Be mindful of how an EHR vendor’s internal support hours line up with your facility’s hours of operation. You want to make sure that each employee can receive immediate support, no matter which shift they work.
When internal support is available, they are generally quick to respond to customer issues. They only support their EHR vendor’s client base so there is less of a chance for staff to be stretched thin or delayed by an overload of support requests.
Build Rapport with the Same Support Team
Many behavioral health facilities may have designated system administrators who are responsible for communicating with the EHR vendor’s support staff. If administrators are working with an internal support team, they usually speak to the same handful of employees each time a problem arises.
Building a level of comfort with a consistent roster of support staff can lead to efficient technological solutions in a hectic clinical setting. Your administrators should be able to call an in-house support team with the confidence that they will be understood and supported effectively.
Internal support staff generally work at the EHR vendor’s location. Working in physical proximity with the rest of the company allows for a productive flow of information throughout your vendor’s operation. In this way, the support team has immediate access to any number of different departments and employees. Sometimes, a technological issue is best solved through direct communication with a specific employee.
Potentially critical information can pass from employee to employee, or department to department, immediately (or as long as it takes to walk across the room or up a flight of stairs).
Outsourced EHR Support Services
Outsourced support is provided to an EHR vendor as a third party support service. The key differentiator here is that the 3rd party company is separate from the EHR vendor.
Most external support providers offer 24/7/365 service to their customers.
Outsourced support companies are typically in business with a large number of companies. They are able to hire enough employees to keep service lines permanently staffed.
Whether technological problems arise during regular business hours, or at 3 a.m. during the third shift, an external support representative will be there to help. There is just as much of a chance that EHR issues will rear their ugly heads during off-shifts when only essential staff are present. You can be confident that outsourced support will provide immediate assistance whenever necessary.
This approach also protects against the occasional staffing dilemmas that an internal, salaried support team may face. Your facility would not have to work around something like staff absences due to illness or vacation plans.
Quantity and Quality of Knowledge
Though outsourced support may be available at all times, there is no guarantee to the quality of service you will receive.
There is a chance that an outsourced support employee will be coming to your case without any context. They may not be familiar with your facility and its processes at all. Furthermore, there is no way of knowing how knowledgeable about your specific EHR they will be.
Your outsourced support representative may get back to you promptly, but how helpful will they be for your specific problem? Of course, there are many skilled outsourced support professionals that provide exemplary service.
However, you do run the risk of receiving limited assistance such as scripted responses to your complex technological issues.
Effective 3rd party service providers employ account managers to communicate with the EHR vendor directly.
Account managers serve as the mediator between an EHR vendor and an external support team. Their job is to ensure that outsourced support staff are prepared to address requests that are specific to the vendor’s software.
For example, an EHR vendor can provide an account manager with training resources, automated responses and other instructive materials to deliver to the external support staff. Even though the service is outsourced, an EHR vendor can dictate the training and actions of those external employees.
A talented account manager streamlines the entire support process by working directly with both parties. Having a centralized individual who is in contact with both sides can be beneficial in two ways:
- The EHR vendor communicates with the same account manager. Over time, an account manager can develop a deep understanding of the EHR, which promotes efficient resolutions.
- The account manager oversees the support staff independently. Any requests and changes that an EHR vendor makes to their product or process are relayed to the support team directly from the account manager. This eliminates chances for miscommunication because the account manager holds their own staff accountable.
Tech Industry Engagement
An outsourced support staff routinely navigates a variety of technical problems for many different businesses.
As a result, employees tackle diverse technological issues daily, gaining a broad knowledge of tech solutions.
If an EHR vendor takes an outsourced approach, your facility can benefit from the external team’s versatility.
Whereas an internal support staff’s expertise comes from extended practice with their specific EHR, external teams are constantly honing their service skills by solving a multitude of diverse technical issues every day.
If you foresee your facility growing in the future, an outsourced support service has the flexibility to provide readily scalable services.
Third-party support providers are typically large operations with a sizable staff. They can leverage their full support roster to easily accommodate expansions at your facility.
If your facility experiences substantial growth in a short period of time, an internal team may need to bring on new hires. The subsequent recruiting, hiring, and training periods can be a lengthy process that may not serve your facility’s timeline.
In the case of external support, more staff is simply assigned to your facility to address the uptick in service requirements.
Be mindful if an EHR vendor provides outsourced support that is U.S-based, or internationally-based. International support poses a few potential challenges to resolving technological problems:
- Connectivity Issues
- Long Phone Queues
- Uncertainty regarding how much experience support staff has with your facility’s EHR/specific EHR issue
Sigmund Software EHR Support Services
At Sigmund, we prefer an internal approach.
Through AURA, our enterprise EHR, Sigmund offers 24/7/365 internal support.
Our support team is comprised of experienced full-time Sigmund Software employees that are intimately familiar with AURA’s platform.
The Sigmund support staff is well-versed in AURA, as well as how our platform can fulfill the specific needs of the behavioral health industry.
Additionally, some of our support employees previously worked in the behavioral health industry for 10+ years. In some cases, they even used AURA as an end user before joining the Sigmund team. You can be confident that our staff understands your needs on both a technological and clinical level.
In our over 15 years in the industry, our support team has been able to build strong relationships with our customers. Reconciling issues can be a painless experience when you work with support employees who you have grown to know and trust.
In addition to the highly personalized assistance we offer our customers, Sigmund offers detailed support documentation and video overviews that highlight new features and updates. Easily accessible from our Customer Portal, we strive to provide our customers with every bit of support we can.
Our job is to keep your EHR running smoothly so that your facility can consistently provide the care your patients deserve.
Want to learn more about how Sigmund’s support team can empower your behavioral health facility? Contact one of our knowledgeable team members today!