5 Important Steps to Follow When Implementing Software in Healthcare

November 2, 2016
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In a technology driven world the healthcare industry is modernizing slowly but steadily in the right direction. Software is becoming a vital part in many of the processes driving society's cornerstone, the healthcare institutions. But the painful exchange from older methods to new techniques can somewhat be exaggerating. Many times before, software has been implemented at a healthcare institution unfortunately without luck, often as a result of seeing new techniques as only a technological issue, and not recognizing the organizational and cultural issues. Frustrating problems that occur after implementation, with the software and unmet expectations, are not an uncommon sight in the industry. However, identifying the hurdles before and while implementing could ease this process noticeably1. Here are the five points that in my opinion are the most important to “grab by the horns”.

1. Identify the needs prior to implementation

It is very important to ask the question “Why is this a good idea?” Finding out why an implementation is needed at the institution will make it easier to identify which vendors to choose. It is important not only focusing on the functionalities of the software, it has to be useable as a system at your institution. Be aware of factors such as industry specific knowledge from the vendor's side and what kind of support you can expect, and adjust it to your needs2.

2. Check the infrastructure with your IT department

It is very important to cooperate with the IT department at site to make an implementation successful. The increasing workload on IT departments, mainly because of increased importance of IT solution in healthcare, has to be noticed. Even though the vendor chosen is able to manage all support and implementation of the system, the IT departments could be of great help sharing expertise and managing the technical infrastructures.

3. Identify the champions

The IT department is an important starting point, but you need to find your people on the floor who understand the processes first hand. The IT department will usually give you expertise on one level, but usually, are missing clinical knowledge. To identify a champion user is crucial for successful implementation. To spread the good word of a good software, no-one is better in doing so than an influential person who will help those around him get a hold of this new system.

4. Include the users in the process

Top-down management needs to be turned around in software management3. The users need to be included at the very beginning. Creating a community of users will not only help with implementation, but also create a valuable support platform for new users and less technically skilled users. Just purchasing a software and expect it to magically be ready in a “plug-n-play” style will not work because healthcare professionals will not trust a decision about software blindly. Unfortunately, this is mainly due to the overload of previously unsuccessful implementations of low-quality software. Explain what's in it for the users and why they should make the effort to change. Usually, educating the users about the advantages implementing software is all that it takes. Don't just acquire the software and tell everyone to use it4.

5. Make a cost-effectiveness analysis of the process

Implementing a good software in healthcare will increase productivity and decrease waste. But it's easier said than done to just say that and justify spending money on such a solution. Presenting a well-performed report in health economics will usually move mountains for people in healthcare5. Showing that you have created a more effective work-process for your institution, and also that the solution is cost-effective, is worth a lot, and will break a lot of barriers 6. About Snorri: Snorri Helgason was the Head of Customer Relations at MEDEI ApS. Reducing waste in healthcare is Snorri´s most important subject and using health economics and quality improvement is in his opinion the best way to do so. References: 1. Welker JA. Implementation of electronic data capture systems: Barriers and solutions. Contemp Clin Trials. 2007;28(3):329-336. doi:10.1016/j.cct.2007.01.001.2. Balasubramanian BA, Cohen DJ, Davis MM, et al. Learning Evaluation: blending quality improvement and implementation research methods to study healthcare innovations. Implement Sci. 2015;10(1):31. doi:10.1186/s13012-015-0219-z.3. Bertini M. The Impact of Technology Acceptance and Openness to Innovation on Software Implementation. 2016. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8616.2008.00521.x Malik,.4. Rycroft-Malone J, Burton C, Wilkinson J, et al. Collective action for implementation: a realist evaluation of organizational collaboration in healthcare. Implement Sci. 2016;11:17. doi:10.3310/hsdr03440.5. Ganju N, Walsh M. Sustainable Computing: How Digital Healthcare can Help the Environment, Reduce Costs, and Improve Patient Service. TechNet Magazine 2009. https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/2009.04.digitalhealthcare. Published 2009.6. Warnock N. Offsetting the Cost of Electronic Data Capture with Downstream Benefits White Paper. 2009.