Embarking on a Healthcare Systems Project

Question mark picThe One Question You Need to Ask

By Anthony Odden, Hayes Management Consulting
Twitter: @HayesManagement

Before starting any project, there needs to be a defined final product. Many implementation, optimization, or upgrade projects begin by creating timelines before knowing what is expected for a final product. While it might not be easy to set a timeline of a project, the main challenge is to define all intertwined pieces that fall within that scope. One crucial question will begin defining those pieces.

Which three workflows must be guaranteed to work?

The foundation of any EMR project are the workflows. There are three key workflows that need to be assessed and synced – building, testing, and training. By syncing all project phases you create one unified voice and a clarity of mission. This core foundation sets the tone and expectations for your team from start to finish.

Ask this simple workflow question to every department affected by the project (Which three workflows must be guaranteed to work?). This will define the baseline and help guide scope for all three phases of the project. Each department will focus on workflows that they find important, from patient safety, complicated procedures, problem workflows, state regulations, missed revenue, large revenue areas, or any other concern within their department. Some suggested workflows might seem basic or mundane, for example, physicians who want to continue using order sets. This request will cascade into confirming that physicians can place orders, order sets are completed, that they match the current order sets, and those orders are linked to medications, procedures, and charges. The process starts with the order sets being built, then they are tested to match the desired workflows, and finally the physicians are trained on those completed order sets and how they are incorporated into their daily workflows. All three sides of the triangle – build, testing, and training – require a parallel and coordinated approach to ensure that they all are founded upon the desired workflows.

Where do we start?

Start with three workflows. While this number may seem small, it is tied to the word ‘guaranteed’. If you asked for five workflows from each department, the scope might grow beyond budget and resources. There is always the possibility to expand after completing the core workflows, as well as create a buffer to handle any neglected critical workflows.

Identify and define potential issues

Once all of the departments have submitted their three workflows, combine and consolidate all desired workflows. This final compiled list will help focus resources on potential issues and define the main processes and procedures, from minor enhancements to large organizational alterations. This list will serve to outline the scope and timeline of the project. A main benefit for having each of the impacted departments contribute their most desired workflows is to increase end-user buy-in by using their suggestions to set the foundation of the project. Instead of creating timelines that have no foundation, you now have validated and desired workflows directly from the affected users and departments.

This article was originally published in Hayes’ Healthcare Blog and is republished here with permission.