2018-05-03

Purchasing a Care Management Platform? What you need to know

In an ideal world, care managers would have a single platform that would keep track of all necessary information about patients, from their vital signs to lab results and dietary habits.

But this single system reality isn’t here yet. In fact, most organizations must accept a patchwork system that includes both an EMR and a Care Management Platform. Many physicians, nurses, MSWs and care managers find themselves asking: “Which data do I enter in which system and why?”

Care Management Platforms were developed because healthcare leaders saw that EMRs were largely oriented toward an outdated “fee-for-service” model. They needed to develop a technology platform that worked better in today’s value-based care environment. That’s why Care Management Platforms focus on an expansive view of a patient’s social factors, such as nutrition, housing and transportation. What makes Care Management Platforms different than EMRs is that they help organizations address patient care proactively, not reactively.

Ed Daniels, managing member at First Response Management, shared a few thoughts on what to explore when you’re considering investing in a Care Management Platform.

“If you’re an outpatient surgery center, you probably just have an EMR,” Daniels says. “If you’re an ACO with care managers responsible for impacting social determinants, you may only have a care management system. But if you are a multispecialty clinic with population health management responsibilities, you might need both types of systems. Form follows function. It really depends on how your organization is structured.”

Investing in a Care Management Platform will affect how your organization cares for patients for years to come. Daniels shared a checklist of what you should consider before you purchase:

  • Understand EMR limitations. An EMR won’t paint an entire story of what a patient is going through. Yes, it will tell you the main facts about a patient, but Care Management Platforms showcase a broad view of a patient’s social factors, such as their nutrition or housing. Since Care Management Platforms are more focused on population health, not only does it help bend the cost curve for organizations, but allows dedicated care managers to do their jobs more easily.
  • Create a wish list. If you decide you want a Care Management Platform, come up with a list of what you want the system to do. That way, when you interview vendors—you can be more in control of the conversation.
  • Find a flexible Care Management Platform. Flash forward to what might be required by your organization to manage certain patient populations within the next few years. Will the new system give you everything you need to provide expanded capabilities? It’s important to make sure you pick a Care Management Platform that’s adaptable and can not only work with your healthcare organization today, but in the future.
  • Spend time on your RFP. Gather the data and background information you need to make sure your RFP reflects what your organization really wants.

“Your new Care Management Platform will become the first thing that your care managers look at when they arrive in the morning, and the last thing they look at when they are heading home at the end of the day,” Daniels says. “Make sure you provide them with a tool that will make their work life both easier and more effective.”