Epic Community Connect: Planning the Right Approach
The need to extend EHRs to affiliates is increasing along with the integration needs of ACOs. Epic Community Connect is a methodology and approach to extend EHR systems to partners and clients. Community Connect can be licensed to both clinics and hospitals typically working with smaller budgets. It’s crucial to understand the impacts of offering Community Connect as a host so no surprises arise in the process.
UNDERSTANDING THE COSTS
Identifying the cost to license Epic and its 3rd -party applications is an important factor to consider before offering Community Connect to providers. Cost models for Community Connect can be very complex. In the outpatient area, the costs are typically identified per physician. A common price might be $15,000 per physician, but what might be a surprise is the complex costs of the 3rd parties. For each 3rd– party application, health organizations need to revisit the contract. Every contract can be priced out differently for example:
Each hospital system has a different contract with not only Epic but with the many 3rd-party supporting applications, which have to be considered again before offering Community Connect to the community. Health systems offering Community Connect without considering all the costs could end up with budget cuts, program delays and staff layoffs.
Excite’s Community Connect cost model includes the quadratic equation to help identify an accurate per physician cost and support needed to purchase Community Connect. Once a health system has implemented the EMR and its 3rd parties, each physician moving forward will require less support.
DEVELOPING A GO TO MARKET APPROACH
The amount of effort required by the receiver of Community Connect also depends on how the host organization packages the service offering to the market. For example, if the receiving client is going to need to increase their IT security infrastructure to meet the hosts standards, additional resources will be needed. However, if the host packages the offering to include the security services to ensure it is completed accurately, then that will also impact the effort for the receiving party. Security is just one example but there are many others, such as:
Smaller hospitals and clinics often don’t have additional staff to assist with an EMR implementation. It’s vital for the health organization to recognize the Community Connect receivers time, effort and resources needed during implementation, especially if customization to the system is required. The key questions that host health organizations need to consider are:
While there is no one single method in setting expectations, the most important tool is a Detailed Project Plan. The plan should identify activities for the host, as well as the foreseen activities for the recipient. Incorporating resources and estimated times of effort for activities can help assist in identifying the overall time the client will have to spend to implement the new system.
Developing a governance structure where Community Connect clients have a voice will help support the partnership. Expectation setting also requires guiding principles that both parties can embrace during the implementation and support phase. Strong communication is key to help reduce anxiety and concerns. When issues or concerns are escalated up through governance, guiding principles will need to be looked at and leveraged regularly.
Finally, when considering being a Community Connect host, it’s important to conduct a pilot first. Conducting a practice run (or pilot), is where a host organization can identify the challenges they may face. As a host, the health organization will now be a vendor providing a service, which is new to many organizations.
These elements all contribute to a successful Community Connect implementation. It’s important to consider all aspects of the project before offering Community Connect.
VP EHR Services & Digital Solutions