As health systems scramble to adopt the next generation of electronic health records, one solution that’s steadily gaining in popularity is partnering with an affiliate organization. While the benefits of sharing the cost of equipment, support, enhancements and intellectual capital can be encouraging, there are still risks involved with this potential EHR solution. The top issue facing organizations trying to connect their systems is their ability to set up a shared governance that will make decisions based on what both organizations feel is best for how they’re using technology to enhance their programs and provide better care for patients.
To avoid potential disruptions in patient care and mitigate possible risks, health systems need to evaluate their affiliate relations thoroughly to ensure their philosophy towards the usage of technology is fully understood and synched to their counterpart as much as possible. In the process of connecting to another organization, the more you share goals and beliefs in patient care, the better aligned your decisions on system development and enhancement will be. These shared beliefs can carry over into the way the system is used in order to carry out standard protocols, determine order sets and care plans, as well as maintaining preference cards.
Beyond these alignments, organizations also need to focus on sharing a vision on a big picture level. Both parties must evaluate their 5-year plans in regards to efforts for improving patient access, care throughout the community and their focus on accountable care initiatives. The guiding principles that are shaping the way forward for both organizations must be working together in harmony for the solution to work effectively.
In order to set these relationships up for success, creating shared governance is key. However, the reality is that, to be able to get to that point, the two organizations need to be aligned and accept each other’s processes for caring for patients. Clearly defining the steps involved in the decision making process can prevent future miscommunications from hurting productivity and progress. For example, once a well-articulated shared governance is put into place, when an individual physician requests that he receives a particular order set for his patients, how will he or she be able to present this to not only his organization, but within the counterpart organization as well? While this approval process created through a strong shared governance can hinder creativity at an individual level, system changes must be planned for presenting to key stakeholders within both parties.