Today most rehabilitation therapy practices utilize an EHR/EMR software package to assist running their practice, but only some of these practices opt to implement a standalone dedicated software solution for functional capacity evaluations (FCE) and/or post offer employment tests (POET). If you are one of the prudent people who chose to purchase one of the latter solutions, then this post is for you.
If you don’t currently use any sort of FCE or POET software in your clinic, know that we feel your pain (You do realize it’s 2015, right?). We recommend reading OccuPro's White Paper on how to choose a functional capacity evaluation software system and get started doing your research ASAP. We also have some really nice folks working here at OccuPro that would be more than happy to assist you with any questions you might have.
Just how secure and future-proof is your software?
Let’s figure out if your current software is the right solution for you going forward. The following sections will explore some of the basic things your solution should cover:
Maintenance & Upgrades
Software maintenance is one of the most important aspects of any software solution. If you purchased a software package that claims to be maintenance free, you are in for a surprise. Software has come a long way, but not requiring any maintenance at all is not something you will be able to find anytime soon. Let’s break down maintenance a little to help understand what it should entail:
These are updates to the software that need to be made to support changes in the system environment. What happens when you buy that shiny new PC and try to run your software on it, only to get a notice that the software is not compatible with this newer version of the operating system? Or even worse what if you want to buy a new PC and your IT department or Systems Analyst tells you that you cannot because your software does not support the newer environment?
These are implementations of new or changed user requirements concerning functional enhancements to the software. Let’s be honest, have you run into a situation with your current software solution where you wished it did something different/better so that it would save you redundant tasks, make a certain task less annoying or just improved your usability?
These are errors that need to be fixed. Let’s face it: Nobody is perfect and software will always have bugs that need to be corrected. Don’t believe me? Take out your phone and hit on that App Store or Play Store button and then navigate to the “Updates” section. Take a look at the list of your applications that have updates ready to install and view the details. Now count how many update release notes include something in regards to “Fixed bugs”, “Squashed bugs”, “Fixed specific xyz error”. I think you get the point.
These are things that need to be done to increase maintainability or reliability to prevent future problems.
No matter what type of software you are using all of the above maintenance items need to be covered in order for the software to be as secure and future-proof as possible. If you are using an online system these should be done for you regularly (We at OccuPro for example run maintenance tasks on a weekly basis). If you are using installed offline software that you purchased and have running on specific computers in your office, some of this maintenance falls to your IT department and for the other parts you will want to have an agreement in place that covers you. Unfortunately we don’t see updates for offline software packages very regularly and whenever there are upgrades they often times end up costing a lot of money as well as time and coordination to implement.
Support is another really important factor that your software solution should have covered. I am sure you have at some point in your life experienced bad customer and/or technical support, am I right? It’s those times when you are frustrated most and you usually end up with a good story to tell your colleagues at the watercooler. Have you required support using your current FCE software solution? Was it as easy as sending a quick email and getting a timely response, or picking up the phone and speaking to an actual person without going through hours of transfers and automated messages? Did you require any of this after standard operating hours and you still received help? If so then it sounds like your current solution offers adequate support for their product. If not, you may want to re-evaluate your provider and see what alternatives are out there that do a better job at customer support.
Do you have a dedicated account or customer success manager that you know by name and who knows about your practice and situation? If so do they offer clinical support that goes beyond just technical issues and can actually add value to your practice and way of doing testing? We at OccuPro for example believe everybody should have a customer success manager who does all of that for you, which is why we put great emphasis on assigning a customer success manager to every one of our accounts no matter if it’s 1 user or 100 users.
Security & HIPAA Compliance
Any software that deals with sensitive patient information is required to be HIPAA compliant and should always be on the forefront of latest security trends and solutions. Make sure any FCE or POET software you are using or are planning on using is HIPAA compliant and also factor in their maintenance offerings to ensure you are always up to date with the latest security best practices. Don’t be fooled by anybody claiming to be “HIPAA Certified” as it’s not the same as “HIPAA Compliant”. No third party or hosting provider can make your company HIPAA compliant and there is no certification program recognized by the federal governing body of the HIPAA standard, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the office of Civil Rights (OCR). So if you were convinced to purchase your current software solution because of the provider’s HIPAA certification, you might want to terminate your agreement and search elsewhere as you might have been tricked by marketing.