Over the years, several clients have requested guidance and assistance to either replace or upgrade their existing electronic health records and financial management applications. While these organizations differ in size and specialty, most seem to struggle with the willingness to adapt to change and be successful in project preparation and implementations.
So many factors come into play as an organization determines why it should transition to a new EHR system or even upgrade their current system.
How do you determine the right time to make these changes? And how prepared is the organization to take on additional change? As healthcare organizations become more technology dependent, many still struggle with implementing their IT systems successfully.
Organizations place blame on the software rather than looking inward at why their system functions the way it does. They often speak so negatively about the application that no one is open to the change needed.
John Lynch & Associates’ consulting team has worked with several organizations during these challenging times providing guidance during system selection and upgrades, overall project leadership and support, and project and change management services throughout each phase of these projects.
Our consulting team organizes eight key phases during any project implementation or upgrade:
Phase I: Finding the Right Project Manager
Healthcare projects in general are daunting and successful implementation is not an easy task. To achieve this momentous goal, we have helped several organizations with the role of an expert project manager. Our job is to ensure the project details are not overlooked while keeping the high-level end goal in sight, delivering on time, and within budget. As project managers we also:
At John Lynch & Associates we always take a “hands-on” approach to project management and pro-actively address client’s questions regarding project planning and how to choose teams and tools specific to their project.
Phase II: Selecting the Right Team
Every successful implementation or upgrade requires a team of people that see the project through from inception to completion. Staffing the project appropriately means appointing the best people from all areas of the project spectrum including end-users. A properly staffed team includes members with a variety of expertise that are:
Taking the time to hand-pick your team and bring them on board early in the planning process while encouraging their feedback creates s sense of pride in the work they accomplish. Making them feel invested in the project and providing them with the right incentives to fully participate proves to be successful.
Phase III: Establishing Goals & Objectives
Every project has an end goal or deliverable and knowing what the ultimate end goal will look like is imperative.
We ensure that everyone understands the project requirements and spell them out clearly in detail. Keeping client’s goals at the forefront while we execute the project has had a proven success. Goals remind everyone what is important and what is peripheral. We also make sure every stakeholder is reminded of the end goal and has a clear understanding of the steps laid out all the way to the finish line.
We continue to stress keeping an open mind that major changes along the way are not always best and introduce risk to the project. If organizations already struggle with negativity amid their culture, any change introduced could be detrimental to the overall success. We discuss the project thoroughly at the time of goal setting to make sure everyone is on board and agrees with the plan of action.
Phase IV: Measuring the Success of the Project
Most healthcare organizations make the mistake of measuring the success of their project only after it is complete. Yet, how are you expected to measure something without a starting point?
The very first thing that an organization must do is to agree upon the expected outcomes of a project and how they will determine whether those outcomes have been achieved. Project measurements are referred to as key performance indicators – or KPIs. We begin by collecting the baseline measurements of all KPIs pertinent to the organization’s goals. Logically, their KPIs should be tied to their desired outcomes.
By collecting the baseline KPIs from the start, we allow organizations the ability to check in with their goals along the course of their healthcare IT project. Once completed, we are able to measure the project’s overall success.
Phase V: Defining Milestones
Milestones illuminate key moments throughout the organization’s project roadmap. They break a project down into smaller manageable pieces and provide the team and organization with a sense of accomplishment along the way.
For each project milestone, we clearly identify each task, and determine who, when, and how it will get completed. We always identify reasonable deadlines knowing there might be hiccups and we plan for reasonable delays. As the project manager, we are pro-active at tracking all milestones and update timelines wherever necessary.
Phase VI: Predicting & Managing Potential Risks
Managing risk is one of the most crucial elements of a successful project. We lead organizations in evaluating the pros and cons, opportunities and challenges, and strengths and weaknesses of each step and identify potential risks. We address questions such as:
Together, we establish realistic budgets and timelines. This is the planning phase that most organizations are familiar with. However, a critical misstep we often see is failing to include the right people in the discussion.
Additionally, we conduct risk identification workshops within each organization. During these workshops, every department is represented to get a complete picture of the potential hurdles the project faces. To prevent a project failure, we always identify and anticipate the potential problems each organization could face. Using this information, we develop a Plan B to mitigate these risks and prevent disaster down the line.
Phase VII: Developing a Communication Strategy
As project managers we understand the importance of when and how to effectively communicate with each level of the organization throughout the project’s lifecycle. This ensures that the team is well-equipped to provide the clear and consistent messaging necessary for the success of the organization’s project.
Our communication strategies include “go-to” people for a variety of scenarios. We decide the chain of command system for each project and, for every goal, spell out critical personnel and the modalities of communication: when, where, and how. We use the same standards of communication you would use in a patient-provider relationship, communicate often, in a concise manner, and be sure to follow the communication strategy the team spelled out at the very beginning of the project.
Phase VIII: Adapting to Changing Objectives
Change management is important in every project, across every industry, particularly in healthcare. With healthcare reform and government mandates constantly changing, projects should always have flexibility to adapt without impacting the bottom line. It is important to implement an effective change management strategy at the beginning of the project to ensure all goals are met on time and within budget. Read more on our proven change management strategies here.
The failure rate of healthcare IT projects is staggeringly high. Many contributing factors that lead to healthcare IT project failures include:
Failure to successfully implement a project comes at great cost for a healthcare organization including:
We have seen first-hand how implementing a clinical solution from a strategic, expert level has helped our clients. Some of the most common outcomes have included:
One of the most rewarding benefits we help our clients achieve is establishing a system that allows physicians, PAs, and clinicians to practice to the top of their licenses. In other words, we help each staff member work to the top of his or her ability and credentials, which creates greater efficiency within the entire organizational ecosystem.
While it may be difficult to envision how something as technical as executing an IT clinical solution successfully can affect something as personal as the quality-of-care patients receive, the connection runs deep.
The IT systems our clients rely on every day allow them to serve patients better, more efficiently, and with greater dedication, which is precisely why our expert project managers are dedicated to advancing healthcare through consulting excellence.
For more information regarding this case study or if you would like to discuss how we can assist with your EHR needs, please contact us at 623.980.8018 or by email email@example.com
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