Don't Ignore Optimization During Health IT Go-lives

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Don't ignore optimization during health IT go-livesTechnology projects such as the implementation of an electronic health record system, no doubt, come with their share of headaches. CIOs that think that such work merely consists of installing new software or hardware, however, are in for a rude awakening, according to Ilene Moore, a physician advisor for Elmhurst, Ill.-based healthcare professional services firm Dearborn Advisors.

"[H]ospitals often focus all of their resources around the go-live event itself," Moore writes in a recent post for Executive Insight. "Dismissing optimization or assuming that it's simple can lead to disaster."

According to Moore, several pitfalls often plague such projects, and can have lingering effects if they aren't addressed in a timely and appropriate manner. For instance, she says, end users like doctors and nurses must have a say in process adjustments both before and after a project's completion.

"In the real world, when clinical technology systems change, physicians and nurses without a voice respond in unexpected ways," Moore says. "Your best change to get your clinicians to accept change is to include them from the beginning."

To that end, Moore says, CIOs must build and reinforce governance, and define roles within. All too often, she says, health systems "neglect" to address governance until it's too late "because it's deceptively simple."

Additionally, Moore says, metrics should be an integral part of any implementation process, especially to ensure that end users don't feel left out. "Physicians are driven by data and will ignore efforts to optimize unless CIOs and CMIOs define, track and frequently report on performance measures," she says. "Published metrics have an effect on physicians' attitude and behavior, encouraging them to adapt to change."

The ability to effectively communicate with IT and non-IT professionals, alike, is critical for CIOs, according to Rich Miller, vice president of talent strategies & information technology at healthcare executive search firm B.E. Smith. Miller says that CIOs must understand "where the issues are," and how to address them.

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