What Happens During an IT Assessment of Your Behavioral Health, Home Health, or Hospice Organization?

An information technology (IT) assessment takes a comprehensive look at your behavioral health, home health, or hospice organization’s technology and evaluates whether it’s serving your needs.

We take a deep dive into what an IT assessment is and why your organization needs one in another blog post.

You might think that an IT assessment just involves an analysis of your hardware and software, but the truth is that it’s a much more detailed process. Here’s what you can expect from an IT assessment of your behavioral health, home health, or hospice organization.

What Happens During an IT Assessment?

One of the more surprising aspects of an IT assessment is that the process doesn’t just focus on IT— at least not initially.

When Ron Slater, Vice President of IT Services at SimiTree, and his team conduct an IT assessment, they typically spend four days on-site. Day one begins with a meeting with the behavioral health, home health, or hospice organization’s executives. Topics addressed during this meeting include the organization’s size and structure, as well as the leadership team’s aims and aspirations.

“We want to understand what their business objectives are for the next three to five years,” Slater said. “We’re not asking about IT objectives. We’re focused on identifying their organizational goals and priorities.”

For the remainder of day one and all of day two, Slater conducts hourlong conversations with small groups of staff members from every department and program throughout the organization. This includes client-facing staff such as front-desk personnel and clinicians, as well as those in administrative roles such as accounting and billing.

“These meetings aren’t for supervisors,” Slater said. “We want to hear from employees about how they use technology. We also want to hear what types of problems they’re having with the technology.”

Slater and his team ask a series of standardized questions in each session, and they record all responses for later review.

“We document every complaint and issue that the staff bring up,” he said. “When we’ve finished all the meetings, we go back through this inventory and prioritize what we recorded.”

Finally, on days three and four, the IT assessment team turns its attention to the information technology department. They meet with IT personnel, review their operations, discuss their roles and responsibilities, and identify challenges and opportunities.

Then they head home to analyze the information they gathered, conduct additional research, and prepare a detailed report.

The IT Assessment Report

Following the site visitation, the SimiTree team enters what Slater refers to as the “trust but verify” phase of the IT assessment. This consists of accessing the behavioral health, home health, or hospice organization’s IT systems to evaluate which aspects are working as intended and which areas are falling short of expectation.

After completing this step and prioritizing the issues they documented during their staff interviews, the IT assessment team is ready to create their final report.

This report is organized into the following categories:

  • IT governance: Who is setting the goals and priorities for the IT team, and how is their progress being monitored and evaluated?
  • Security: Is the IT team taking all necessary steps to safeguard against unauthorized access of organizational data? (Note: This refers only to IT practices. It does not assess compliance with HIPAA privacy standards.)
  • Disaster recovery: What plans are in place for resuming operations after a systemwide failure or some other catastrophic, technology-related event? How long would it take for the organization to reopen its doors, and what steps will the IT team need to take to hit that return date?
  • Networking: Does everyone throughout the organization have access to the online tools, applications, and resources they need to do their job? In today’s highly networked business environment, few areas are more important than this.
  • Servers and storage: Is the behavioral health, home health, or hospice organization’s data being safely stored on well-maintained servers? (Note: As more companies shift from on-site storage to a software as a service, or SaaS, approach, this category is often no longer applicable.)
  • Telecommunications: Is the IT team effectively managing the organization’s network of cell phones, desk phones, and virtual phones/voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) software? If the behavioral health, home health, or hospice organization has a call center, is this service being properly supported?
  • Endpoints: How do the organization’s staff access the applications they need to do their jobs? Do they have the tools they need? How well are their laptops, desktop computers, and other devices being managed and maintained?
  • Applications and data: Can staff members easily access the applications they need, or are they required to memorize multiple passwords? Are there ways to reduce administrative oversite and improve quality of life for the personnel who use the organization’s network?
  • Support: When employees encounter a hardware, software, or access problem, how do they request IT support? How are these requests tracked and addressed?
  • IT management and staffing: Is the IT team appropriately staffed, and do all personnel have the skills and training they need to meet their responsibilities? What gaps exist within the behavioral health, home health, or hospice organization, and how can they be efficiently filled?

The IT assessment team assigns each category a grade of one to five, with five being the top mark. They also provide additional details for each category, including both short- and long-term recommendations and implementation guidance.

Though the category grades provide a general indication of both successes and shortcomings, Slater noted that scoring ones across the board isn’t necessarily a sign that all is as it should be.

For example, he noted, an organization that devotes an inordinate amount of time and money to move a specific score from a one to a two may be missing out on significant gains in other areas for the sake of relatively minor upgrades in one already well-performing category.

This is where the recommendation and guidance section of the report is so valuable, as it highlights which categories are most in need of extra attention and how that attention can be of greatest benefit to the organization and its patients.

“Ultimately, we want to help every organization that we work with become more efficient, more productive, and more cost-effective,” Slater said.

Learn More About IT Assessments

Get a tailored technology roadmap for your behavioral health, home health, or hospice organization with an IT Assessment from SimiTree. This personalized approach aligns your technology with your business objectives. Get in touch with us today to discover how our IT assessment can drive growth and streamline costs for your behavioral health, home health, or hospice organization.