EHR upgrades play a pivotal role in the evolution of your healthcare organization. Staying up-to-date with the latest software not only streamlines workflows but also enhances reporting capabilities, enabling you to maximize the potential of your EHR. However, embarking on an upgrade requires careful planning and thoughtful consideration. Here, we highlight the top three essential factors to consider as you prepare for this crucial journey.
1. Organizational Leadership: Define and Prioritize Upgrade Goals
One of the foundational steps in the upgrade process is establishing clear leadership and governance. It's essential that organizational leaders not only understand the pain points within your current system but also recognize how the upgrade aligns with strategic goals and priority initiatives across the organization. This alignment should encompass both ambulatory and inpatient settings.
The governance structure responsible for making key decisions regarding enhancements should comprise leaders who possess a deep understanding of how these applications support the organization's clinical and business needs. Additionally, these leaders should maintain close contact with end users to understand daily workflow challenges and collect input on potential enhancements.
To facilitate this process, many organizations utilize their IT Service Desk ticketing and reporting systems. These systems help compile a comprehensive list of daily challenges and optimization requests related to the EHR. This list serves as a valuable resource during the selection and prioritization of enhancements.
It's vital that the upgrade governance committee makes well-informed decisions about which enhancements to implement, considering factors such as:
- Cost and complexity of implementation
- Widespread or focused benefits
- Regulatory requirements
- Support for other strategic projects
Your governance team should not just consist of IT or application teams; it should include representatives from various organizational areas to ensure a holistic perspective.
NOVA, the application that provides a list of upgrade-related enhancements and fixes, can be a valuable tool for managing enhancement selections. It allows for review and commentary from key organizational representatives, enhancing collaboration and decision-making.
2. Dedicated Upgrade Lead
While organizations may not have the luxury of dedicating multiple resources exclusively to an upgrade, having a dedicated Upgrade Lead or Project Manager is crucial. This individual should be fully committed to overseeing all aspects of the upgrade, possess experience in managing upgrade projects, understand the intricacies of the EHR, and grasp the broader implications of the upgrade on other organizational initiatives.
Given that upgrades often span 12 to 18 months and require intense focus at various intervals, it's essential to integrate upgrade planning with ongoing work, such as implementing new applications, opening new facilities, or updating technical infrastructure. The Upgrade Lead or Project Manager plays a central role in coordinating these activities and ensuring that upgrade-related tasks are prioritized when necessary.
3. Timeline and Budget
Establishing target dates and budget allocations well in advance of the upgrade's commencement is a standard practice. Understanding the driving factors behind the urgency of the upgrade and any financial constraints that may limit enhancement selection is essential for creating a successful implementation timeline that stays within budget.
Additionally, it's crucial to consider parallel projects or initiatives that may have equal importance within the organization. This assessment helps determine whether the organization needs to bring in consultants to support day-to-day operations or assist with the upgrade implementation.
Having a clear grasp of your upgrade timeline and budget is fundamental for defining project scope and is a critical success factor for a smooth upgrade process.
In conclusion, EHR upgrades are significant milestones in the evolution of your healthcare organization's EHR system. By prioritizing organizational leadership alignment, designating a dedicated upgrade lead, and establishing a well-defined timeline and budget, you can navigate the upgrade journey with confidence and achieve your desired outcomes. If you're in need of assistance with an upgrade or want to learn more about EHR optimization, contact us today!