What to Do When It’s Time to Sunset Your Healthcare Application

What to Do When It’s Time to Sunset Your Healthcare Application

17 July, 2022 | 6 Min Read|by Gaurav Mundra
  • Category: Interoperability
  • The rapid growth of healthcare has caused the need for efficient management of data and applications to grow as well. When considering efficient health data management, health data archiving comes into the picture. Data archiving refers to identifying and moving inactive data from the production system into storage systems. This is for efficient data management; as far as inactive or outdated applications are concerned, you would require an alternative, effective strategy, which is precisely what this article is about.

    In this article, you will learn:

    What It Means to Sunset an Application

    Application sunsetting, also called application retirement or application decommissioning or application neutering, refers to the process followed for shutting down an outdated application while retaining its data. An example of sunsetting an application could be, directly moving from one EHR to another or acquiring an independent practice and shifting from the existing EHR to a newer one.

    The task of sunsetting an application requires careful consideration as it has an everlasting impact on the healthcare organization. Therefore, the decision to shut down the legacy application is taken up at different times for different healthcare organizations depending on their individual requirements.

    Application sunsetting is normally considered in the following situations:

    • When the application isn’t performing to its optimum capacity
    • When the vendor is no longer supporting the application
    • When the organization gets into mergers and acquisitions
    • When there exists a better solution in the market
    • When the organization decides to alter its focus

    In general, the drivers for health application retirement would be the need to improve clinical efficiency and interoperability along with aiding cybersecurity.

    How Application Decommissioning Helps

    Decommissioning a legacy application/software could prove to be helpful for your healthcare organization in the following ways:

    • Improving the accessibility to information
    • Reducing the maintenance cost of multiple applications
    • Complying with the regulations
    • Reducing any kind of operational risks

    5 Steps to Be Followed to Decommission an Application

    When planning to switch from one EHR vendor to another, it becomes important to ensure that you aren’t struggling to support both. This is why it becomes important to decommission one application and focus on the other. After identifying the healthcare application that needs to be decommissioned, the following process needs to be followed:

    1. Begin by discussing with stakeholders

    It is always helpful to start the process by discussing it with the stakeholders. Considering the volume of risk that the decision of decommissioning could put forth, it is essential that the decision is made after approval from key stakeholders.

    2. Get the team involved in decision making

    The decision to sunset an application could have a spiraling effect on the users of the application as they are the ones dealing with it on a day-to-day basis. Hence it is always important to get your team’s opinion while deciding, as it is ultimately going to impact them in the short and long term.

    3. Create a proper plan for decommissioning

    When thinking of decommissioning, it is always important to have a proper plan. Since it is a huge decision to make, it is always important to be backed by a strong action plan that details the steps to be fulfilled with a proper timeline and a list of goals to be achieved.

    4. Think about ways to archive the data

    The stress on the importance of having a decommissioning plan is because it considers what needs to be done to the data. Although the application is dated, the data still holds value and would be required in the long run. Therefore, it is always important to consider a tool that could help archive the data.

    5. Come up with ways to manage change

    With every sunsetting of an application, it is crucial to remember that your healthcare organization is bound to undergo change. When your users are exposed to frequent changes, they are sure to get frustrated. Thus, it is important to have a detailed plan about how to help users cope with change.

    Application Sunsetting Checklist - Things to Be Taken Care of

    Whenever your healthcare organization intends to sunset an application, it is always important to check the following off the list:

    • Look out for signs like the failure to meet compliance and security requirements to know the right time to sunset an application
    • Always think about data migration and identify means have a backup for your health data
    • When thinking about migration, always consider the non-clinical data as well
    • Remember that sunsetting your healthcare application is never the end but rather the path to improvement
    • Never burden your users with a new software unless they are completely trained and ready for it

    The Roadblocks to Application Sunsetting

    Now that you have an idea of the ways in which sunsetting an application could help you and how to go ahead with application retirement let’s take a look at all things that could get in your way while thinking about or actually decommissioning a healthcare application.

    • Difficulty in discovering an alternative The whole idea of decommissioning a legacy application is to work with a new competent one. However, finding the right compelling application is not the easiest job and could sometimes take away all your time and energy.
    • Managing the decommissioning costs Decommissioning an application or software involves a lot of funds to be invested, mainly to enable valuable data to be archived. Apart from the costs of decommissioning, the organization must also consider the costs required for migration.
    • Problems with time and other priorities There may be instances where there are other needs that the organization must meet, and it becomes difficult to devote time to application sunsetting. Difficulty in prioritizing tasks could be something that can impede the organization’s capabilities.
    • Lack of coordination within the organization Getting your stakeholders to agree and cope with the decision of decommissioning could sometimes be one of the most difficult things to do. It happens to be an originating point for other problems like managing time and costs.

    Solutions to Get Past These Roadblocks

    1. Collaborate with an experienced partner who could ease data archival and migration
    2. Develop a standard operating procedure to help with meeting FHIR® requirements
    3. Communicate with stakeholders and ensure their buy-in
    4. Train the users on the new application before sunsetting the old one
    5. Make sure that there is a way to access old data if the users need access to it

    How 314e Helps in Data Migration

    If you are a health system sunsetting an application and require data migration and archival services, you need to meet Muspell Archive.

    Muspell Archive is an intelligent data archival tool that could help with App Rationalization, Interoperability, and Compliance. Something that makes Muspell special is its ability to meet all archival requirements, be it clinical, non-EHR, or even specialty workflows; Muspell can handle it all.

    The kinds of data that 314e has migrated from legacy systems in the past include demographics, imaging orders & results, encounters, procedures, billing charges, lab orders & results, vitals, medical summaries, and more.

    Not just migrating data, but 314e could also help with conversion for archival systems. The expert resources possess the capability to extract and convert historical clinical data to the format required by the archival system. We can also work with you to test and validate the archived data.

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