One important factor to consider when choosing an electronic health record (EHR) software is the type of support services a vendor offers.
You will find that EHR vendors provide either in-house support or outsourced support. For the purpose of this article, the terms in-house support and internal support are interchangeable.
Being certain of which support approach best suits your facility can help narrow down the field of EHRs you have to look in to.
We thought it would be helpful to highlight four benefits to internal EHR support to help you decide if this approach fits your facility’s needs:
- Early Support Presence
- Versatile Remote Support Options
- Skilled 24/7 Support
- Dedicated Support Staff
1) Early Support Presence
The overarching benefit of an in-house EHR support service is the fact that they are completely integrated with the vendor’s business.
An internal support department is often physically in the same office as the rest of the company. Support managers regularly interact, professionally and personally, with other departments, such as development, quality testing, as well as leadership and decision-makers.
An internal support team has members, and therefore a voice, in the vendor’s company. This promotes high performance within the support department and synergy with other departments.
A great example of how this synergy can benefit the customer is the chance to involve the support team in the early stages of implementation.
Traditionally, when a customer signs a contract with an EHR vendor they are assigned an implementation Project Manager. Titles may vary, but this individual guides them through the implementation process.
The implementation process ends when the EHR is rolled out at the customer’s facility. Once the system is running smoothly, support becomes the primary contact for customers.
EHR vendors with an in-house support service can involve the support department long before this stage. Each customer is unique, so the earlier the support team can get to know a customer, the better.
Imagine a scenario where an EHR vendor assigns a Project Manager, and a support employee, to your facility at the start of implementation. Granted, there may not be many support issues to tackle during these early stages when your system has yet to be fully configured.
However, simply being present for your initial training can help a support individual understand how to assist you in the future.
A support employee can get a sense of:
- What type of organization they will be supporting
- The provider’s processes
- The specific roles within the organization
- The personalities of the clients they will be assisting
If your organization has support questions during this initial stage, the Project Manager can rely on the support employee to provide an informed answer immediately.
In this way, the Project Manager is also better served by support’s presence because there is no stoppage or disruption in the training.
Then, once your facility is ready to go live, the transition from implementation to support is seamless.
By this point, you have already spent weeks (or months) getting comfortable with your support representative. When support issues arise, your facility will already have a relationship with the staff they must depend on.
2) Variety of Support Methods
An internal support team specializes in customer service for their specific EHR.
If you are dealing with an established EHR vendor, there is a good chance that they have been able to steadily improve their services based on customer feedback.
Different support methods work for different facilities. An in-house support team will likely have developed several ways that customers can contact support and receive assistance.
Successful internal support departments can offer a variety of assistance through:
- Direct email
- Online ticket submission
- Support phone call
- Video conference/screen sharing
This variety promotes customer satisfaction because it allows the provider to choose a preferred support method.
If methods are limited, customers can become dissatisfied with their support structure as a whole. The quality of patient care may decline if an organization does not believe in their support service.
For smaller providers, it may be easier for both parties involved to solve the majority of issues through email.
At larger operations where multiple users can reach out to support, online ticket submission may be the best option.
In a robust online ticket system, users can:
- Open tickets
- See which tickets are currently opened
- View closed tickets
- Update tickets
- Run reports on tickets
That way, users can get a sense of issues that are currently being addressed and those that were previously solved.
Then, there are times when certain issues are best solved by getting on the phone and speaking to the support staff directly.
And then there are times when a phone call does not quite suffice.
In those cases, remote video conferencing and screen sharing are very effective. This method provides sufficient transparency and collaboration to get to the bottom of the problem.
Regardless of the support issue or support method preference, a skilled internal support team should have no problem accommodating your facility.
3) Skilled Support, Around the Clock
Just about every EHR vendor offers 24/7 support. It has become a standard across the industry.
However, the quality of that support is never a guarantee.
One benefit of an in-house support department’s 24/7/365 assistance is the participation of actual support team members.
It is a good practice to have developers on-call during off-hours to handle technological emergencies. That way, any technical issues that need immediate attention can be fixed.
The developers in an internal support network are generally developers that work for the same company.
Just like the support presence at the beginning of implementation, this fosters synergy between departments and enhances customer experience.
As a result, the assistance that a user working the third shift gets is as qualified and experienced as users during business hours receive.
4) Dedicated, Experienced Support Staff
Internal support departments have the luxury of only working in one EHR.
Thus, an in-house support team tends to know their platform inside and out. They know exactly how the EHR should work and can easily detect when and why it is not working.
This is due, in part, to the fact that there is generally limited turnover in an internal support department. This job security and longevity allows each support employee to address and learn from a wide variety of support issues.
A great byproduct of an internal support department, especially one that has been long-established, is the cultivation of a collective knowledge base.
Over time, the individual experiences and expertise of each employee contribute to the department’s deep understanding of the EHR and how to troubleshoot it.
When working with an established EHR vendor, there is virtually no technological issue that the team has not seen before.
The internal support knowledge base promotes efficient and precise assistance. Rarely do in-house support members have to go searching for an answer – they can simply provide the solution.
As a result, providers receive answers and solutions promptly. Whoever you contact will either have already solved the same issue themselves or can confer with a coworker who has.
In addition, a support individual that has been involved with your facility since the early implementation stages will have a strong sense of the solution that would work best for you.
In the cases of particularly dynamic software, this becomes even more important. In-house support staff can help your facility navigate a platform’s high degree of functionality. Instead of getting overwhelmed by the number of options available to them, you can rely on the internal team to guide them through their optimal process.
Internal support departments, and the customers they serve, can both benefit from the internal culture of an EHR vendor, too.
Spending so much time with one platform, and working in the same office as those who created the software, fosters ownership of the EHR that promotes a high level of service.
Customer service is often more thorough and dedicated coming from employees who know and care about the product. That is what a user gets when working with a skilled internal support team.
We hope you have a better grasp of the kind of service an in-house support approach offers.
With this information, you can begin narrowing down your search based on this important element of the EHR experience.
No matter which way you are leaning after reading this article, we hope you have a clear idea of which support approach suits your organization’s needs.
If you were impressed with the level of care and expertise that internal support services can provide, you may be interested in seeing what Sigmund has to offer.
We have provided our customers with dedicated internal support for the last two decades.
In our experience and collaboration with customers over the years, we have found that internal support optimally serves the reconciliation of technological issues, and customer satisfaction as well.
If you would like to learn more about Sigmund’s Support Services, talk to one of our knowledgeable professionals today!