We recently shared how important it is to engage the right resources for an EHR implementation for a health system or hospital. What precludes this process at times is identifying the “weak links” on the team who are holding up progress. Gross malalignments of talent and tasks are pretty easy to spot, but some of what we’ll share today are the more subtle ways that you can detect where there are barriers to progress on implementing EHR systems, or healthcare technology in general for your organization or clients. Because timelines are real and budgets are locked in, you simply can’t afford to press forward with logjams or, worse, balls dropped by ill-equipped or poorly-motivated resources.
#1: Their Role In The Health IT Implementation Project Is Fuzzy
If you aren’t exactly sure what someone does as their core responsibility on the project team, chances are that they don’t either. This can lead to ineffective division of labor, apathy, or dabbling in much but accomplishing very little. Everyone’s roles and responsibilities should be clear and accountability in place to ensure they’re knocking out their assigned tasks -- be it test plan development, system integration documentation, or establishing API calls -- and supporting the project plan.
#2: They No-Show To Stand-Ups...Physically Or Figuratively
When a resource is not showing up regularly to project stand-ups (be it daily, weekly, or otherwise) they are not going to contribute to the forward momentum of the EHR implementation efforts. Sometimes this means that they chronically miss meetings, while other times this can look like someone showing up for the call, but having nothing to offer. When meetings exist, their purpose should be clear, and every resource should know the expectation in terms of contribution -- whether it’s information, stats/data points for their workstream, or whatever it may be -- and deliver with their presence.
Of Note: These Weaknesses May Be Attributable To Leadership Problems
We’ve only covered a few of the potential weak points that can hinder an EHR project team, but it’s worth noting already that these issues may very well stem from a leadership oversight. Giving the “weak links” a chance to improve is helpful only when they have relevant feedback, and when the opportunity for improvement is identified...which is where this article may help for truly calling out the issue to drive resolution.
#3: A Bad Attitude Infects The Whole EHR Project Team
One “bad apple” can really cause a ripple effect of dissention and friction. If there is a member of the healthcare IT project team who is consistently negative -- which can manifest as sarcasm, pessimism, or even flippancy about real issues faced by fellow team members -- it can drag down the whole group. This is true of any group dynamic, but it can be especially insidious if the Project Manager doesn’t identify this looming attitude early on and get to the bottom of it. Worse, if the PM is the one who can’t seem to get their emotional expression under control, it will be very difficult (if not impossible) to meet client expectations well and for the EHR implementation team to thrive, especially during those inevitable challenging moments.
#4: Punting On Project Responsibilities Is Their M.O.
When team members are constantly met with excuses and hand-offs for why a given resource can’t execute on their designated tasks -- assuming we’ve addressed #1 above -- it’s not only a source of delay and progress impediment, but it’s also extremely frustrating. When a technical asset is unwilling to do their job, it’s not difficult to understand that this will impact everyone sooner than later.
Leaders need to be especially cognizant of where other members of the project team have picked up the slack, thus allowing the problem to persist and the apathetic employee to coast. Burnout will follow, and the last thing you want to see are the Team Players running out of steam just short of the project finish line. Get to Go-Live with a healthy team in tact by ensuring that everyone is owning their jobs and executing without excuse. (And if they can’t hang, then make the tough call for everyone’s benefit, and demonstrate true leadership by letting them go. You may be doing them a favor.)
#5: They Don’t Speak The Language
One of my favorite axioms, heard often from remarkable leaders in the healthcare IT industry in particular, is, “If you can’texplain something simply, then you don’t understand it.” If updates from a given resource are more confusing than they are clarifying, it’s important to press into that. We’ve seen it happen where a non-technical PM assumes that the update is relevant and that the gap is simply their own, but all too often, no one is actually served by the information provided. And thus, it doesn’t actually contribute toward a shared sense of status and progress. This may take some coaching, but every member of the team -- regardless of how brilliantly technical they are -- should be able to articulate what they’re working on, where they are blocked, and what they need to proceed. If they can’t do this without creating mass confusion, Tower of Babel style, then they need to regroup and try again until comprehension is grasped. There’s no pride lost in pursuing good communication, but the alternative can be catastrophic for all stakeholders involved.