The Epic Implementation Series
Project Management is key to a successful implementation. Of course, all project management components such as managing scope, budget, quality, risk, etc. are essential, but there are other important aspects to be aware of.
You will need to assist the organization in determining the roll-out strategy.
Is a big bang approach across a few facilities best or is a phased implementation more desirable? You will want to ensure that appropriate governance is in place (i.e., Clinical and Physician Advisory Councils, etc.) with appropriate representation throughout the sites/organization. This is important at the workgroup level (i.e., Legal Medical Record, etc.) as well. Avoid being surprised by disparate workflows by performing current state workflow analyses prior to Discovery and Validation sessions. You will have a better implementation by going into these sessions prepared. In addition, this will make your organization the more prepared for communicating the changes that will come with the new system. Carefully evaluate which departments will use inpatient, outpatient and ED tools. Communication is critical throughout the project. Do not let your teams remain siloed – application build can impact other applications. Document all of your decisions and do not re-visit unless there is a critical issue such as patient safety. Ensure realistic timelines. You will need appropriate time for Order Transmittal/Lab mapping. Work closely with team members to ensure they are assigned to areas best suited to their skill sets and interests so they can be successful. Evaluate change requests and prepare impact analysis. As an integral part of development, work closely with IT development and business owners to ensure success.
Winning Hearts & Minds
While project guidance and sound project planning are important, you cannot discount the value of establishing a strong internal project marketing plan. Information Systems cannot be seen as driving your EHR installation, but rather as a tool to implement the needs of the Health System’s clinician. Unification of leadership across the C-suite is imperative, and hospital providers and staff must be involved as early as possible. Key stakeholders must be given a voice and the opportunity to help in the design process and should be ready to help build and prepare teams across your health system for the upcoming install.
Early involvement from all departments is key. There is no question that it is challenging to keep everyone involved in the decision-making process. If done effectively, however, it will pay dividends in terms of end-user adoption and improve the quality of your build.
Recruiting and training members of each department to assist with monitoring revenue baselines at Go-Live has also been a very successful strategy with several of our clients. Each department lead knows the number of patients seen and procedures performed better than a central financial team. They also have a direct connection with their staff, and can communicate back if a workflow or training issue is causing missed revenue opportunities. Weekly or even daily meetings with department managers at Go-Live make them aware of and accountable for their performance. Engaging them early leads to much faster issue resolution.
Also consider developing inter-system communications when building your provider records. Though one hospital may not be going up for several years, you may need those doctors, nurses, and machine/room records for referrals, followups, or after-visit instructions. When physicians need to float between hospitals, they will need records available as well. Without involvement across your organization, it is very easy to miss these records, which can be a major strain on active providers at Go-Live. Early involvement with hospitals set for later-phase activation shows your commitment and gives credence to the notion that the first hospital going up is as important as the rest. Building positive communication in your organization can turn feelings of dread over future changes into excitement for the upcoming install. There is no shortage of value in developing strong internal communications, project marketing, and working to build excitement within your health system.