Installing software at a hospital can be like taking a road trip across the country with a caravan of cars. In one car, you have the IT department. In the other cars, you have the end users. The goal of the trip is the same for everyone – to arrive safely at the destination as quickly as possible.
Typically, the lead car in the caravan is the IT car. They picked the route, the timeline, and the pit-stops along the way. It’s their responsibility to ensure everyone arrives at the destination safely, on time, and with enough money in the budget to pay for gas and snacks.
What will happen if the IT car doesn’t communicate with the end users’ cars throughout the trip? The end users will try to find their own way to the destination. They will take unplanned detours that could lead them in the wrong direction, might get flat tires that hold them up, or decide they don’t want to go on the road trip anymore and just turn around. All of this will cause the trip to take longer, cost more in gas, and likely put everyone in a sour mood by the time they get to the destination, if they get there at all.
Just like you would communicate early and often throughout the road trip to ensure everyone is on the right route, driving at the right pace, and doesn’t encounter any car trouble, IT communication with end users throughout a software install is critical to ensure a successful go-live.
Are you ready to hit the (software) open road? Our tips for finding the best route to your destination:
Communicate the complete route – Be transparent about what is changing and what isn’t. End users tend to think of a new software install to be the solution to all their problems. Appropriately set expectations so if the software won’t resolve a problem they’ll know ahead of time and can plan accordingly.
Get some two-way walkie talkies – Set up consistent check-ins during and after the install to ensure end users are adopting the software as expected. Establishing a two-way communication channel will prevent workarounds from being created and will make end users feel supported and heard.
Pick the most direct route – End users’ focus is on patient care, research, or other hospital administrative tasks. Software should be a tool that helps them to do their primary job, not make it harder or take longer. Keep the workflows and tasks as simple and as intuitive as possible to help them quickly learn the new system and focus their attention back to what matters – patients and healthcare.
Check your rearview mirror often – Don’t rely solely on end users to tell you when they are falling behind. Check for yourself by shadowing end users, holding interviews, and sending surveys on how they are adopting to the new system. Don’t wait for them to tell you what’s not working – find out for yourself.
Provide everyone with their own maps – People don’t like to ask for directions. Provide adequate tools users can access on their own when they have a question about the software or a workflow. Enable them to find their way without having to admit they are lost. Of course, in-person assistance and training should also be offered, especially during go-live and any major upgrade of the software.
Are you ready to take a road trip? I hear Key West is nice this time of year.
Nicole Ranere is an EHR Manager at Avaap, where she helps hospitals get the most value from their EHR investments and implementations.