Having been at the forefront of technology implementations at a number of hospitals and health care systems, I’ve seen the incredible things technology can do help care teams do their jobs at a whole new level. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen projects backfire and create more problems than solutions. But with the right mindset and these helpful tips, your next IT project can be a painless experience that leads to success. Enjoy these tips in the conclusion of our series. Check out Part 1 here.
1. Keep nursing staff involved throughout the entire project.
Clinicians need to have a seat at the table so the work is identified as it really occurs. When the point of care staff aren’t involved at every step , it is not a matter of if, but when crisis hits. Plus, the benefits go two ways: The team benefits from clinician input about real workflows, real-life use cases and true, day-to-day pain points, while clinicians benefit from learning about the new technology, contributing to its benefits, building a solution they recognize is for them, and adopting it widely at completion. When clinicians aren’t involved in making the work their own, the result is wrought with shortcuts and work-arounds, and metrics and outcomes plummet. By doing so, the team will find itself on a path of re-doing the work (operations) to support the goals on going. The key to doing this right the first time through is to support the work flow and optimize efficiency. When we invest in the team, we invest in the outcome. Keep morale and buy-in high with clinician engagement.
2. Don’t let the project become “person-dependent.”
Naturally, each project has champions and leaders. But when one person takes on the brunt of a project, when that person is “done,” so is the work, support, knowledge, and ability to keep the project on track. Your leader might leave the organization or heaven forbid have a health or family emergency that takes them away from the project for a prolonged period. Make sure the whole team is bought in and prepared with the knowledge to succeed. Job sharing is also an option. Development may take a bit longer, as the resource wouldn’t be fully dedicated, but the return on investment is great, especially in hospitals where resources are limited. When we work in a lean environment, as many of us do, the opportunity for others to understand the work, our databases, who we share our outcomes with, and due dates all become relative.
3. Make time for reporting, and ensure it’s a priority that encompasses all stages and organization history.
An organization’s reporting strategy needs to be an open cycle of improvement. When you look at reporting as an ever-evolving project, you collect data completely and with intent. When we don’t take the time on the front end of a project to honor the legacy that the organization has completed in the past, we place a note of disregard to the good work that has occurred and build barriers to participation. When reports and data are ignored upfront, they often don’t get the correct measures in place to support the infrastructure. It’s unnecessarily work intensive to make changes in the middle or on the back end. Leaders without data is like taking the sheet music away from the choir. We need data to evaluate the work, and when done well, to drive improvement.
4. Accept that a technology project is never “done.” It’s a new way for your organization to operate.
As leaders, we need to embrace the notion that the work is never done. This means the cycle of improvement is continuous, and if we are doing our standard work accordingly, we are always looking to improve the process and make the flow more efficient for new and existing staff. Engaging the team throughout their journey is coupled with support and understanding that the work is never done. In particular, staff know their role in the process is important, and it connects the work to the outcome.