Love health IT? So do we. But implementing new technologies can be a daunting process. Before your next big technology project, ask yourself these 5 questions.

  1. How many people will my technology touch, and who are they?

The great thing about immersive technologies is that they touch several levels and areas of an organization. But that can be a double-edged sword. Before you make a purchasing decision, you should get buy-in (or at least awareness) from whomever will be affected. And really think it through. A piece of technology often touches more areas than meets the eye. For example, if you’re implementing a new food service system, of course you’ll want involvement from the nutrition staff. But modern food service systems integrate with EHRs and patient experience platforms. Nurses will likely have to work with the technology, even if it’s in the form of assisting patients with meal ordering. Needless to say your IT staff needs to be heavily involved. Take the time to really think of all the stakeholders, and deliver the message the right way.

  1. Is your governance structure in place?

Once you’ve gotten buy-in from everyone the technology touches, you’ll need to make sure leadership is completely on board. As we all know, hospitals tend to operate in a top-down manner. If a directive comes from the right source, implementation should be certain and smooth. But if leadership is distracted or not fully behind the project, you’re in for a bumpy road. Ask any potential vendors to help you pitch your idea to leadership and make the business case for their solution. A good vendor will have programs and plans in place to help you identify early on who will need to be involved throughout implementation and beyond. Make sure your vendor meets with you regularly and has a plan in place for those meetings, to keep the project moving with the right personnel.

  1. Are your nurses on board?

If you hesitate on this one, even for a moment, you’re not ready. We all know nurses are a hospital’s bread and butter. More than that - they’re a hospital’s heart and soul. And brain. And hands. And everything else. If your new technology is going to burden the nursing staff, you probably shouldn’t be implementing it. Which leads us to the next big question you should ask yourself…

  1. Why are you implementing new technology? Is it technology for the sake of technology?

Remember when the iPhone first came out, and everyone had the app that looked like a beer that poured out when you titled it? Sure - that was a cute novelty, and it was fun, but it came and went pretty quickly. Useful apps - Uber Eats, Google Maps, your Fantasy Football app - they have staying power because it’s technology that streamlines our lives instead of complicating them. An example we often see in the industry is a quickness to put free-floating tablets into patient rooms. At first, it seems like a no-brainer. Patients love touchscreens, right? But think deeper - They have a free-standing touchscreen in their pocket at all times. They don’t need a tablet unless it offers something useful beyond their phone. That tablet will need to get charged, looked after, inventoried, and wiped (both digitally and physically - for infection control). And that responsibility will likely fall on your nursing staff. Trust us - you don’t want that. We recommend tethering tablets for exactly that reason - putting them on an arm on a patient engagement table keeps them from getting lost, dropped, or stolen, and keeps them connected to a power source. It gives patients wow-factor technology without burdening nurses. 

  1. Technology means data… but what are you going to do with it?

People can’t get enough data. With every new tech project comes mountains of data. We see people’s eyes light up when they learn how much information can be collected from a new piece of technology. But so often, mountains of data goes uncontextualized, and therefore unused. Ask yourself what you want to get from that data, then ask your vendors how to use the data. What have their other clients used data for in the past? Do they provide visualized reports? How often? For which team members? Who’s going to use the data, and in what way? Data is incredible when you think about it the right way, but oftentimes people don’t. It might help to pick a specific area of focus. For example, one of our customers wanted to focus on patient satisfaction and service recovery. They started out with one or two people taking in survey results from targeted rounding to patients who reported complaints. They took the time to review the data and grow the program internally based on the results. For example, they’ve now included someone from dietary rounding for patients reporting dissatisfaction with the food. Incredibly, they found that the more negative complaints that come in and are addressed immediately, the more positive their HCAHPS scores have become. Data is successful when you can see that direct impact a program has made. 

New technology is more than just a significant financial investment. It requires personnel, buy-in, and careful thought. Asking yourself the right questions can help ensure your success.

What questions do you wish you’d asked yourself before implementing your last technology?

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