Over the past two years, many healthcare organizations invested heavily in inpatient and ambulatory electronic health records in order to benefit from financial incentives provided by the ARRA/HiTech Stimulus. A common trend over the past year is for these same organizations to evaluate the replacement of their patient access and revenue cycle applications to leverage the benefits of a fully integrated suite of business and clinical applications. As such, legacy business applications are increasingly being replaced.
When it comes to replacing legacy registration, scheduling and billing systems, some organizations plan for a “keep the lights on approach”. They develop scaled back application teams in order to support business operations and to provide sufficient end user support. New projects are often held off until the new applications are live. While this approach is logical and can be effective for some organizations, make sure your legacy system support plan is aligned with your institution’s overall strategic plan. For example, if new practices or hospitals are being acquired and then need to be brought into the organization’s fold before the new applications are live, that would require a different resource plan. If the new applications will not be live in advance of October 1, 2014, the legacy application team will need to address ICD-10 conversion implications.
A successful approach for maintaining legacy applications is to shift internal resources onto the new system implementations. This enables an organization to more effectively support operations post go-live in a self sufficient manner. Legacy applications are supported by a combination of internal and external staff. When hiring consultants to provide legacy system support, key success factors include selecting a partner that understands the nuances of your patient access and billing operations, as well as corporate culture and customer service. While some organizations look to lower priced resources to backfill legacy systems, more experienced resources often make legacy backfill more economical as fewer resources are needed.
Ultimately, just because you are replacing your business applications, this does not mean your legacy applications no longer need to support the goals of your organization. Ensure that your support plan addresses the needs of your operational areas and your end users.