Serious female doctor gestures and speaks during medical meeting

Picture yourself racing to reach an important external meeting in an unfamiliar location. You enter the address into your navigation app, counting on it to lead the way, only to hear it respond: “I’m not actually sure how to get there. Let me talk to my colleagues and get back to you soon.” Now imagine that you’re also driving your manager or teammates to this meeting. The app’s unexpected response would likely leave you embarrassed and apologetic, scrambling to chart a new course, and questioning your choice of apps.

We trust our technology partners to deliver the promised experience when it matters most. And there are few environments where the stakes are higher than in health care delivery. 

Chart a course to minimize bumps on the road to your technology implementation 

When evaluating new health care technologies—particularly those that impact clinical workflows—it’s critical that the roadmap is optimized for vendor experience, cross-functional engagement, and communications planning. 

Vendor experience – Being the first to implement a new solution can offer many benefits, such as the ability to shape the new offering’s design or to create competitive differentiation. There can also be trade-offs to being an early-adopter, and some organizations may prefer that the implementation path be more time-tested. 

  • While evaluating prospective technology partners, have direct conversations about the vendor’s experience in implementing that specific solution in hospitals or health systems with a size, case mix, payer mix, or geographic footprint similar to yours.  
  • Ask to review case studies about recent implementations and to speak to health systems who’ve completed implementation—now “live” with the new technology. 

Cross-functional engagement – Any change to your clinical workflow requires buy-in and guidance from your technical, clinical informatics, and patient experience teams. Early in the process, establish a focused steering committee, composed of diverse stakeholders. Engaging this cross-functional team from the get-go and sustaining engagement after go-live offers many benefits including: 

  • Continuing to build buy-in for this new solution and the long-term value it will deliver. 
  • Identifying benefits, trade-offs, and communication strategies for critical integration decisions, including when to sunset any legacy systems redundant to the new system and how, if at all, to manage deviations from standard workflows. 
  • Reducing risks of rumors and misconceptions. Engaging key stakeholders early in the process ensures they’re more knowledgeable about ongoing progress and can proactively share updates to teams. This continued, aligned communication reduces informal rumor mills in what’s often a more quiet period of pre-implementation planning, as well as spark greater engagement and excitement about more formal training programs further into the implementation process. 
  • Ensuring the approach to the implementation—from the tone of communications to the timing to milestones— reflects your organization’s culture and norms. Your cross-functional steering committee can pressure-test messaging and training documents, and help prepare responses to frequently asked questions based on their diverse focus areas and anticipated engagement of their teams. 
  • Driving adherence for all applicable team members. Ensure the steering committee and broader leaders are visible during the training and early days of the go-live to reinforce that this implementation is a priority. Equip them with data about training completions, daily users, and other metrics to drive adoption and engagement. 

Communication and transparency – Continued communication on the road to go-live and through active daily use is important to achieve and sustain full adoption. 

  • Prepare for go-live by engaging the training team, completing production migration and end-to-end testing, sending leadership communications to staff to support change management, and coordinating at-the-elbow and remote support with the vendor’s team.

  • Surface early wins and communicate them through varied channels. Task your steering committee to share feedback received from users in the early days of implementation. 
  • Share data about adoption by department and spark benchmarking and competitiveness, which will be key to sustaining momentum and driving adoption. 

Managing the many elements of an implementation may seem daunting at first. A good vendor partner will come to the table armed with specific guidance, plans, and tools to lighten the lift in managing the project to your organization’s standards; they should also provide evidence of their ability to guarantee both a smooth implementation process and to measure a successful outcome following go-live. 

Evaluating FHIR applications? Answer these 2 must-ask questions before implementing.