Whenever I’m asked to help out with a software implementation, the first question that goes through my mind (after a quick eye roll, semi-disguised by a troublesome contact lens) is “How long is this going to take?” and “Will my IT department need to be involved?” I imagine endless weeks of meetings, cancelled meetings and rescheduled meetings to coordinate overviews and deep dives and beta tests.
Even more frustrating is post-implementation (this is typically when the full-blown, undisguised eye roll happens). Where is my support? How will I train my staff to use the software? What happens if I leave the organization – will someone else be trained on how to administer the system? Who will I contact with questions about upgrades or features to address future industry demands?
Before relegating myself to the fact that every software implementation is abysmally frustrating, I want to convince myself that there must be a better solution. The next time I’m involved in rolling out new software, I want my coworkers to say, “Wow … that was the easiest implementation I’ve ever experienced!” Wouldn’t that be nice to hear for a change? If you want to enjoy an easier implementation process, take a look below to learn four, no-nonsense “must haves” to get started.
EMRs and EHRs
To put this in perspective, let’s use an example of implementing Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) and Electronic Health Records (EHRs). EMRs contain medical and clinical information coming from your medical provider’s office indicating your medical history. EHRs, on the other hand, include information from your provider and all other providers involved in your care; they can move with you and are mostly used for diagnosis and treatment. Both are very important for keeping track of your health and receiving quality care. Pretty important stuff, right?
Unfortunately, not only are these systems difficult to implement – but the chances of them working properly after implementation are minimal. For software so critical to the healthcare industry, an easy implementation process seems like a no-brainer, but that is not the case. From a lack of research into the right vendors, to not having the right people at the table in the planning stages – there are important lessons to be learned from EMRs and EHRs about how to get implementation right, no matter the industry.
Must have #1: The right vendor
Some businesses exist solely to make money. Others exist to provide solutions. How can you tell the difference? When researching the right vendor, make note of where they stand in their respective industry. Are they a market leader? Do they have a best-in-class product? Take a look at their web site. Is it easy to navigate? Do they include impactful statistics? Read their white papers. Is their business on an upswing? Have they been recently recognized? Do they include generic customer quotes or actual customer videos? Does their mission statement convey a passion for what they do? Take a look at their Customer Support page to see how they might address your concerns. Better yet, give their support team a call to see how long it takes for your call to be answered. Believe it or not, all of these things really make a difference in deciding on the right vendor to meet your organization’s needs.
Must have #2: The right people
Once you find the right vendor, make sure you include the right people in the planning sessions of the implementation. This includes people you wouldn’t initially consider. With regard to EMRs, doctors might make the most sense when it comes to being included in the planning phase, but it is often nurses and other staff members who update files, speak to patients and convey information to doctors. Including the right people prevents future obstacles and helps with making the best decisions regarding organization-specific work processes.
Must have #3: The right goals – now and in the future
One of the main reasons for new software is to address past or current problems that inhibit an organization’s growth or block a particular workflow. By addressing future concerns during the implementation process, the infrastructure you need for continued growth and change-readiness is already in place, saving valuable time and money. With regard to EMRs and EHRs, this type of foresight provides peace of mind to healthcare organizations that have to meet Meaningful Use (MU) requirements such as e-prescribing, health information exchanges, and clear interpretations of data.
Must have #4: The right training
Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking our new software is so user-friendly that “we’ll be able to figure it out later.” In highly regulated environments like healthcare, this type of thinking leads to serious consequences down the road. It is extremely important that the key people who attend the planning sessions are properly trained on the product since they will have to train their staff on how to use it effectively going forward. It is also important to understand the level of vendor support provided after the implementation phase. Just because the implementation phase ends does not mean that you will not require future support.
Let’s face it, implementations are certainly not a walk in the park, but if you follow the tips above, I’m confident that they will become easier… or, at least greatly reduce your susceptibility to eye rolling.