The 2000s were a time where many healthcare systems implemented new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, featuring new functionality and exciting features. The 2010s brought a time of change for healthcare providers and their ERP systems, with mergers and acquisitions of ERP solutions slowing progress and a focus on upgrading and keeping up with technology taking precedence over significant innovation. It was a challenging decade for many organizations when it came to getting more value out of their ERP solutions.
As ERP vendors are developing strategic plans for the new decade, there are many areas to address. Here is a wishlist for ERP software improvement in the next decade:
ERP vendors need to pick a business intelligence solution and stick with it! Healthcare organizations cannot keep up with the changes in partnerships. They spend months or even years implementing a solution only to be told the vendor is taking a new direction with a new partnership. Instead, there needs to be a focus on creating high-quality dashboards that deliver the necessary metrics organizations want. Huge strides can be made with standardized definitions. Even better, ERP vendors could follow Epic’s lead and provide benchmarking data to compare to other hospitals, so providers can see if their numbers are good or bad.
Please, no more upgrades. Healthcare organizations are so busy upgrading that they have no time to implement new functionality. Let these organizations stand still for a while so they can take advantage of the ERP software improvements released two or three upgrades ago.
The major ERP vendors in healthcare all have healthcare-specific divisions, but in the end, their applications are designed to be industry neutral and are simply applied to healthcare. It would be very beneficial to make some genuinely healthcare-specific applications that meet the unique challenges of a very complex and ever-changing industry. Supply chain could greatly benefit from a unique healthcare-specific application.
Supply Chain is a critical area in healthcare that has unique industry needs. These needs are often poorly addressed by industry-agnostic ERP applications. At the same time, the supply chain provides the most opportunity for healthcare organizations to make improvements and save money. ERP vendors should design solutions that address healthcare needs, such as Bill Only, Implants, Recalls, Rebates, GPO contracts, and more. Additionally, there needs to be better workflows to solve invoice matching problems (Hint: Help organizations hold their vendors accountable). While current ERP solutions do a great job of helping count the cotton balls and band-aids at the hospital, they are not as useful in tracking the big dollars in areas such as the OR and the Cath Lab. ERP vendors need to utilize their vast development resources to create a true, end-to-end healthcare supply chain solution.
When ERP vendors acquire another solution and plan to integrate it with their existing application, the integration is never smooth. Far too often, the results are either low adoption rates or poor implementation of the new product. There is no better organization to learn from then Epic when it comes to building rather than buying. Building equates to consistently designed products that seamlessly work together and result in a smoother implementation, training, and better adoption.
When it comes to implementations, once again, Epic provides an excellent model to follow. Epic brings a robust methodology to its implementations, a clear training plan, and includes an approach for change management and project management. ERP vendors generally do not provide as many tools and methodologies to help with successful and smooth implementations. Though less resource-intensive, ERP projects need to follow a similar approach focusing on disciplined implementations to achieve consistent outcomes.
Having an application in the cloud is something that every ERP vendor loves to say they have. The term “cloud” is one of the most overused buzz words in healthcare. Everyone knows that the vendors are moving to the cloud. Instead of talking to healthcare organizations about changes to technology, ERP software improvements need to come to applications that will streamline business operations. Providers need to communicate this to vendors and the vendors need to listen.
While there is hope that each major ERP vendor in healthcare will rise to the occasion and follow each of these recommendations, the market has room for another player. We need more options in ERP to create a competitive and innovative environment, leading to stronger and more valuable ERP solutions.
As outlined above, in the next decade ERP software improvement is needed in healthcare. In an industry that continues to change, ERP software needs to adapt as the needs of healthcare organizations change.
Optimum Healthcare IT has a dedicated practice focused on assisting healthcare organizations with implementing and optimizing ERP solutions. Our experience includes working with the industry’s leading ERP packages such as Oracle, SAP, Lawson, Peoplesoft, and Pathways. The team at Optimum has extensive experience in financial management, inventory and supply chain management, human resources, back-office shared services and business process optimization.
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