Successful implementation of information technologies in a clinical environment often involves dozens of key stakeholders, hundreds of clinical and technical considerations, and thousands of end-users. With this many factors and technical details to manage, it’s easy to forget the fundamentals. From articulating a clear vision for your organization, to tracking the right metrics, to prioritizing training and education, it can be difficult to know just where to begin. To help you with the process, here are 10 steps to health IT implementation and long-term success.
- Create a culture of collaboration and partnership. Ensure that each member of the vendor and customer teams understands that both parties will either succeed or fail together. In a culture of cooperation and shared priorities, the vendor helps the customer reach the highest level of success, and the customer helps the vendor earn the highest reputation for the work they do.
- Clearly identify key leaders. One of the most important investments any healthcare organization can make is in its leadership team. The customer team members must include (at the very least) an administrative champion, physician champion, and technical champion.
- Select and empower a physician champion. Formally select a qualified physician champion based on his/her excellent communication/teaching skills, commitment to the mission, and leadership capability.
- Document team mission, vision, and values. Have all team members contribute to and sign-off on these foundational documents. Together, they will help to establish the direction, priorities, and guiding principles that will keep everyone on task and on the same page.
- Establish rules for communication and decision-making. Set a rule from the outset that all communications are shared among key stakeholders. Document each implementation task, assign a responsible owner, and create a due date to ensure that each person is accountable and appreciates that an incomplete task means a project delay.
- Establish clear objectives, success measures, and timelines. Success often requires changes in technology, processes, and personnel. Start by identifying important benchmarks and metrics that best match your values and project domain.
- Training. A training team should be established at the start of the project, including a lead trainer from the vendor, the physician champion, and other appropriate customer personnel. And remember, training is an ongoing process. It doesn’t end upon implementation.
- Standardize implementation to boost quality and efficiency. Strongly consider creating an imaging-centric master file of procedure types rather than just adopting what was used in the previous system. Think of the procedure list as the DNA of your imaging IT implementation. (Ideally, it should include less than 1,000 procedures.)
- Agree on white-glove inspection requirements. Clearly delineate the system and personnel tests that must be completed before you go live and before you complete on-site training. For example, set up a checklist that specifies pre-golive system validation testing, including best practice default configurations, master-file setup, and emergency procedures.
- Measure, compare to benchmarks, and market the benefits. Use technology and the patient visit to communicate with your patient population and continuously solicit their feedback. Applicable technology may include your patient portal, your website, or patient hand-outs. Similarly, let your referring staff and contracted payers understand and appreciate your achievements. Don’t be afraid to make bold claims now that you have the data to back them up.
Ready for a deeper dive? Download Merge’s Common Sense Guide to Implementing Imaging IT.
To learn more, visit merge.com.
About the Author: Murray A. Reicher, MD FACR, Chief Medical Officer, Merge, an IBM Company