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Managing Nationwide Software Upgrades in Support of a Meaningful Use Healthcare Initiative

Healthcare | Application Management, Managed Services

A healthcare IT company engaged TEKsystems to support the software upgrades for more than 150 healthcare clients nationwide. TEKsystems provided a managed services solution to implement the recruitment, hiring, onboarding and performance measurement of the upgrade team.

The client provides certified healthcare information technology, including electronic medical billing and claims management software for healthcare providers.

Doctor’s offices, hospitals and healthcare clinics traditionally exist in a paper-based environment of patient charts, prescription pads and appointment books. In the last few years, many healthcare organizations have begun to convert these paper files to electronic records, with the goal of improving patient care, data security and operational effectiveness. Electronic records store patient data in a searchable format across providers, leading to efficiencies in the scheduling, diagnosing and billing of each patient.

Recent legislation further encouraged this shift in records management. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), also known as the stimulus bill, included healthcare funding through the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. Under HITECH, eligible hospitals and physicians who demonstrate meaningful use of certified technology can receive Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments Electronic records can be a type of certified technology, and to qualify, healthcare providers must demonstrate the use of these electronic records to achieve significant improvements in care.

While many healthcare organizations would like to receive the financial incentives, the transition from a paper environment to an electronic system is costly and time-consuming, and payments are only received based on specific terms in the legislation. Interested providers must also meet a strict deadline, as HITECH requires that eligible participants must demonstrate meaningful use of technology. Healthcare providers need vendors who can provide a full solution: certified software applications and support tools that translate into improved patient care and efficiency.

TEKsystems’ client develops and installs healthcare information technology systems and tools that eliminate the need for paper records. The client’s software division developed proprietary software programs that meet the meaningful use measures required for payment of stimulus incentives. The software is highly customizable and used at healthcare provider locations nationwide.

Linux Red Hat 5, AIX, Oracle 10G database, Rack, ASM, Rman, Java 1.6, J2EE technologies, Scripting languages, Apache AXIS 1.X Web Services, Hibernate, JDBC, Oracle SQL, XML and XML parsing, Ant, StarTeam, NANT, JUni, NUnit, Test Driven Development (TDD), Agile methodologies, XSLT/FOP; EHR/EMR

The client initiated more than 150 upgrades and patch uplifts to keep the software in compliance with HITECH guidelines. The project presented several challenges, including:

The client had to complete all upgrades by a federally-mandated deadline in order for customers to maintain eligibility for incentive payments. Demand was high and timing was critical. The client created an aggressive implementation schedule for the upgrade teams but needed support in defining process, methodology and metrics for standardization of the upgrades.

More than 150 of the client’s customers needed software upgrades and patch uplifts over a two- to three-year period. The client required patch teams to work over a four- to six-week period and upgrade teams to perform 20-week upgrades of the software.

Product Complexity
The software was tailored to each customer’s environment and needed varying levels of support during the upgrade process. Scheduling had to adapt to each customer’s readiness level and degree of customization.

The client required additional help to ramp up the upgrade teams, to include portal technical interface experts, database administrators, interface consultants, technical writers and project managers. In addition to adding new resources, the client needed to preserve and leverage the team’s institutional knowledge.

TEKsystems proposed to develop the resource teams and manage capacity to meet demand. The TEKsystems solution also included responsibility for onboarding, resource utilization and productivity management, and TEKsystems provided additional support by assigning on-site engagement managers at the client’s Westminster, Colo., and Atlanta locations. The client retained responsibility for overall leadership of the upgrades and communication with the healthcare clients. TEKsystems provided:

  • Flexible Approach - TEKsystems presented a resource management-based solution to allow the client to remain in control of the upgrade management. TEKsystems handled all administrative duties related to team recruitment, management and reporting. We also ensured the project team was fully trained and compliant with the client’s processes.
  • Proven Process and Methodology - TEKsystems’ managed service solution is designed to expand ownership of the upgrade project while gaining efficiencies and reducing cost to the client. Through a six-step process, TEKsystems documented work processes, defined sourcing and screening strategies, executed onboarding and facilitated training, managed client resources, provided reporting, and reviewed performance for trends and areas of improvement.
  • Engagement Management - The assigned engagement managers, located on site at the client’s location, managed the team workload and served as a point of contact. The engagement managers also completed performance reporting and ensured the upgrade teams were meeting the client’s needs.
  • Talent Acquisition and Retention - The assigned engagement managers, located on site at the client’s location, managed the team workload and served as a point of contact. The engagement managers also completed performance reporting and ensured the upgrade teams were meeting the client’s needs.

TEKsystems successfully onboarded more than 40 individuals in a two-month period at the onset of the engagement, representing a significant value to the client’s HR department. As the engagement progressed, TEKsystems also managed the search, interview and recommendation of qualified candidates to the client. TEKsystems initially received job descriptions from the client and recruited candidates based on the client’s needs. We observed the candidate interviews and made adjustments to the job descriptions to further refine the skill sets needed for the upgrade teams. TEKsystems assumed management of the search, interview and recommendation process.

Once teams were established, TEKsystems’ retention plan focused on providing thorough onboarding and training on client systems. Each employee received assessments after training and during the project engagement, including measurement against project completion and customer satisfaction. TEKsystems reduced the client’s attrition rate by 33 percent.

TEKsystems also conducted resource utilization analysis to track hours worked and review overtime hours billed. We provided detail on the overtime hours and helped the client standardize the hours worked across the teams to provide more structure and equalize time spent on tasks. The client realized a 10 percent improvement in efficiency. The entire project was delivered at a cost below the client’s budget.

Additionally, at the conclusion of the project, the client engaged TEKsystems to support the next round of upgrades to the software.

  • Experience
    TEKsystems had prior experience supporting the client’s initiatives and understood our client’s corporate culture, technical requirements and expectations. This background knowledge enabled TEKsystems to identify the core skills and attributes needed for success. TEKsystems was able to leverage the strength of our local recruiting teams to build a strong team to meet the demands of the project.
  • Partnerships
    The success of any managed service engagement requires cooperation between the team and the client. Due to the strong relationship and trust between TEKsystems and the client, we were able to gain insight into existing processes, such as the job descriptions and interviews sessions, and make improvements.
  • Commitment to Continuous Improvement
    TEKsystems continually reviewed processes to increase functionality and efficiency. We conducted weekly resource planning and tracked health and operational performance metrics. During quarterly business reviews, TEKsystems reviewed accomplishments, identified risks and set strategy. The team proposed solutions and assumed increased responsibility throughout the engagement.