Transitioning to NDoc®: A Case Study in Success for Thornberry’s Hospice EMR

Cerner’s announcement to end support for their Hospice EMR (electronic medical records) at the end of 2020 has left many agencies searching for a replacement. But needing something soon doesn’t mean you have to settle. The investment in a new EMR is huge, so make sure you and your agency are choosing not just a system, but a true quality solution. It’s not too late to choose the EMR solution that has been ranked #1 for seven years running: NDoc® from Thornberry Ltd.

There are many factors to consider and a lot of systems and vendors out there, so it’s important to know what to look for in a new EMR. Interoperability is at the top of the list, but there are a lot of features and capabilities that are crucial in a quality EMR system and vendor. 

What Do Other Providers Have To Say?

You shouldn’t rely solely on the word of any vendor in your search for a quality EMR solution. Finding out what others have to say about a product before buying it is always a good idea, so you should look to other hospice providers for what works, and what doesn’t. Your state hospice association may be able to direct you to colleagues who are willing to discuss their EMR software systems with you. Find out why they are using their system and what they like—and don’t like—about it. Ask:

  • What do your clinical and office users think about your EMR? 
  • Is your EMR customized to your agency’s individual requirements?
  • Is your EMR vendor responsive to your questions and needs?
  • Has your EMR improved agency efficiency? Does it allow the data to be easily accessed in reports for episodic, operational and business analysis?
  • Does your vendor offer ongoing, quality system support and training…really?
  • What needs are not being met by your EMR?
  • How and why did you select your EMR vendor? Did you consider any other vendors before you made your final decision?

Hospice of the Piedmont in Charlottesville, VA switched from Cerner to NDoc in 2016, and they looked at several systems before selecting NDoc as their EMR solution. “Customer service was our main concern, and we heard from others that Thornberry’s customer service was really good,” says Lara Fisher, EMR Facilitator for Piedmont. “One [vendor we looked at] promised a lot, but was very clearly not following through on what they promised. Another vendor seemed great for clinicians, but you didn’t feel like you could always trust what you were seeing. Having a back office version and a field version is NOT what we wanted.”

Before NDoc, Fisher says that Piedmont was “doing a lot of complicated processes” to try to fit their agency to the EMR. “We were a slave to the EMR before NDoc, instead of the EMR being a tool for us. When we switched to NDoc, we expected people to complain about the change because of the relearning that was necessary, but there was very little of that. Thornberry was on-site for several full days when we went Live, to facilitate the process and support our field staff. They were great.” 

Piedmont clinicians like NDoc because everything is charted right in the note, with less jumping around to different modules of system. Managers and supervisors like NDoc because of the easy and reliable access to patient data. Fisher says that getting information about specific patients out of some systems was impossible, but it’s very easy with NDoc: “and the History button felt like magic!” She also touts NDoc’s reliable audit trail. “With NDoc we don’t have to track every process in a shadow system to guarantee we don’t miss anything, and we can get help understanding where data is pulled from. I feel confident we’ll be able to explain what happened if we need to. With NDoc, we really could go paperless!” Interfaces aren’t a concern anymore, either. Fisher says that Piedmont has a lot of interfaces, and “Thornberry has been committed to making sure that all of the pieces we need are there.”

Efficient and reliable EMR performance is now a given at Piedmont. When questions or procedural issues do arise, Fisher says that Thornberry helps her agency understand why something is happening, and helps them come up with solutions. “I feel very confident that Thornberry genuinely wants to help us meet the needs of our staff in delivering quality patient care,” Fisher says. “I never had that feeling with any other EMR vendor.”

Roberta Burge, Systems Analyst for Allied Services Hospice in Clarks Summit, agrees. The agency left Cerner for NDoc five years ago, and has never questioned the decision. Burge says that decision was based mostly on NDoc’s ease of use, interoperability, KLAS rating, and customer support. “The support is fantastic,” she says, “and Thornberry is always ahead of the game with regulatory issues. We never have to worry that we won’t be covered when CMS changes or adds something.” 

As at Piedmont, Allied clinicians like the ease of use and the logical workflow, and supervisors and managers appreciate the reliable patient data. “NDoc reports are good and easy to run,” says Burge, “and there are no more workarounds or manual tracking of tasks. NDoc is reliable, and we don’t get a lot of error messages.” Burge also notes the ease of interoperability that comes with NDoc: “Thornberry has been a great partner with things like our KeyHIE setup.”

Top-ranked by KLAS since 2013 

In addition to talking with other agency providers, you should head online to find out more about what others have to say. Online resources include industry publications, data review and listing sites, buying guides, and the healthcare IT research site KLAS Research.

KLAS publishes dozens of provider-driven, provider-centric research reports each year. The site is free to providers in exchange for their willingness to share their vendor experiences with KLAS researchers. There is also an annual “Best in KLAS” or “Category Leader” designation of one vendor within each category based on the research data. According to KLAS, “it is the healthcare providers, not KLAS, who give [these awards]. KLAS simply serves as amplification of the providers’ experiences.” 

Thornberry and NDoc have been ranked #1 in Home Health and Hospice for the seventh year in a row by provider agencies and KLAS independent researchers. Thornberry first set the record in 2017 with a fourth consecutive “Best in KLAS” award for the homecare segment, and it continues to leave the competition behind. Thornberry’s home health and hospice EMR received a top-ranked score of 90.4 in the 2020 Best in KLAS: Software & Services report, surpassing the average for the segment by more than nine points. 

This year, NDoc won the KLAS Category Leader award for the new Home Health & Hospice (Small) market segment. While not an official competitor in the new “large” market because NDoc data is limited for that segment, Thornberry scored the highest in either category, keeping them ahead of the competition for the seventh year in a row.

What do people like best about NDoc? 

Perhaps the most important thing to consider when selecting your EMR solution is the vendor’s reputation for customer service. No system has every bell and whistle, and some bells and whistles you won’t even use once the system is installed. But the investment in a new EMR is huge, and you want to be sure the vendor you choose has a service and support philosophy that matches your own. 

“We can trust in the system and trust in the Thornberry support,” says Fisher. “I really can’t say enough about their support. Whether it’s the Help Desk or personal phone calls, it’s amazing. I think it’s unique to feel that level of support from a vendor.”

Burge agrees: “We were very happy to be moving to NDoc… the transition went well, the training was very good, and the support was excellent. There is definitely light at the end of the tunnel when you switch to NDoc.”