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Over the last year, the healthcare industry has had to adapt to the global pandemic, just like the rest of the world. Healthcare organizations had a unique challenge. Should they postpone thousands of hours and millions of planning dollars, adopt new processes to move forward as scheduled, or postpone indefinitely? Many postponed indefinitely. Others decided to push forward using completely virtual support which included limited site resources. We had to adapt to the evolution and challenges of virtual go-live support to continue to provide top-tier services and virtual implementations to our client partners.

Technology:

To fulfill the needs of the virtual at-the-elbow support model, we needed to expand technology. We adopted virtual phone support to allow end-users to call for help directly. There were numerous reservations at first on both the client-side, as well as ours. There was limited data regarding how this would impact adoption. There were also concerns of clinical staff shying away from making a phone call for support while caring for patients. To limit the learning curve of adding additional technology into the process, we used support phone calls combined with virtual screen-sharing sessions. This process proved to be the least intrusive manner to assist, and we adapted our onsite models to parallel this new virtual support method.

Staff Adaptation:

One challenge of virtual implementations is staff adaptation. Our staff has become experts in the onsite support model. They are adept at recognizing needs and addressing them efficiently. But in this new model, they were thrust into random calls with no real sense of the situation on the other end. It’s also very different from a relationship-building standpoint. When we are onsite, we become a familiar face, promoting the formation of subtle support bonds. Random calls to random people are much less familiar and awkward for some. Any perception of a lack of urgency from support teams can lead to frustration. Our staff quickly adapted to the new needs and sensitivities required to accomplish the goals that have not changed – maintaining the standard of care for patients and their families.

Take-Aways:

The data was better than we expected. Neither client satisfaction nor end-user adoption suffered. We noticed trends of much more assertive and engaged internal support staff. Thus, making the exit strategy of turning over the support to internal super users more effective. In some cases, we were able to exit projects more efficiently. The long-perceived notion that the support staff needed to be “physically” at the elbow had proven false.

As the pandemic evolved and some states allowed more access, we began introducing hybrid models that included both onsite and remote support. Due to the success of the virtual implementation models, it’s likely here to stay. We continue to make subtle improvements to our technology and staffing models. There is no denying the benefits and cost savings of virtual implementations.

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Victor Cornin

Director, EHR Delivery

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