Hayes' Healthcare Blog

The Other Side of the Implementation Coin: Decommissioning Legacy Systems

Posted by Rena Hrivnak on July 15, 2015 at 9:00 AM

07.15.15

Implementation isn't just about the new system, there's also the process of taking the necessary steps to decommission legacy applications. The health system is in agreement that the application needs to be retired, but is unsure as to when and how the retirement process should begin. There are three major areas to consider when planning out the phases of the decommissioning project: Content (Clinical or A/R), Type (if the application is a utility type application or if it holds data), and Contract (if the contract is expired or is there an active application contract). Here are some tips to help you through the decommissioning process.

1. Content and 2. Type:

  • Application holds data (Clinical or A/R)
    • Plan for where that data will be stored/moved
    • Plan for how end-users will access that data
    • Consider the end-users’ need for historical data
    • Consider state and federal laws in regards to what type of data and how long that data will be stored
  • Application that does not hold data (Utility Type Application)
    • Plan for how quickly the application can be decommissioned
    • Plan for what is replacing that application and when
    • Consider the end-users that are currently using the application
    • Consider the time and cost of A/R rundown versus keeping the application active

3. Contract:

  • What is the legal binding contract of the application with the health system?
    • Plan for time and resources to thoroughly research contracts
    • Plan to decommission based on expiration date and the cost of maintaining versus paying a cancelation fee
    • Consider the legal ties of the contract
    • Consider savings in the cost of the contract, licenses the contract holds, and the resources for maintaining of the application

Your healthcare system should organize the applications in a way that simplifies the necessity of the application. The type of application is a driver to planning out when, how, and which applications should be retired. If the application is a data type then there should be a plan in place for storing and/or moving the data.

Your health system’s legal team should also be a key component in the planning process. The legal team is privy to state and federal laws for the type of data that needs to be stored and the length of time that it should be stored. The legal team should also be able to review the application contracts so that the planning team has a more thorough understanding of any binding agreements with the application vendor and how that may impact the decommissioning process.

There can be a sort of tug-of-war between the decommissioning team the accounts receivable team. A/R may pull in one direction and want to keep the legacy application running through the entire A/R run down and the decommissioning team may pull in the opposite direction and want to decommission the legacy application much sooner. There is a happy medium in it all and can be found at the point in which a decommission savings outweighs the amount of revenue and resources it takes to collect.

The application decommissioning planning team should be practiced and proficient in their work. The team should carry the experience of working with healthcare facilities that are both equivalent in size and the application retirement needs. Since typical hospital resource availability and experience in legacy retirement planning is limited, utilizing external experienced professionals should be a cost that the healthcare system plans for as part of the project in order to save both time and money.

Topics: healthcare system migration, clinical optimization, EHR implementation

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