A Team Approach to Health IT Implementation

Health IT projects either fall short of business and clinical goals or are completely abandoned at an astonishing rate. Studies vary, but failure-rate estimates range from 35% to 75%.

Overrun budgets and functionality problems are often cited as the primary culprits. However, the failure to include direct-care clinical staff—including nurses —in the evaluation, implementation and training of new technology should not be overlooked.

Listening to, engaging with and educating direct-care staff is critical to the success of any new technology. How will this new technology impact how nurses deliver patient care? What adjustments in workflow and practice need to be made—at go-live and beyond?

If end-users are not involved in the selection, adoption and implementation of a technology, then the likelihood that they will become owners of that product is significantly lower.

Finding  Champions

To achieve measurable progress in health IT adoption requires that hospitals identify and support internal champions in all relevant departments.

The formidable task list that comes with any technology implementation requires the input and expertise of a project team, which ideally, should be comprised of leadership from myriad stakeholders, including IT networking, facilities, patient safety experts, educators, informatics nurses, laboratory staff, pharmacists, electrical engineers, biomedical engineers, quality improvement specialists, vendors and direct-care clinical staff.

This team will be responsible for every phase of deployment—evaluation, acquisition, rollout, implementation and transition to live operations. They will determine the hospital’s objectives and integration goals, as well as vendor evaluations, business and clinical requirements, risk management concerns, patient safety goals, and costs.

Designating a nursing champion—or super-user—at the outset allows other nurses and direct-care clinical staff to receive information, training, and support during all phases of adoption. These super-users would be working closely with the interdisciplinary team assembled for the implementation project.

Vendor Partnerships

Every health system has business and clinical needs that make them different from other organizations. A vendor partner with deep knowledge of the unique aspects of your organization not only will help you avoid common mistakes, but also keep you focused on detailed integration points and workflows.

A partner that knows your organization also helps other vendors get acclimated, provides guidance, and ensures everyone stays accountable. A positive and fruitful collaboration allows hospitals to establish benchmarks and ensure that configurations and interoperability are optimized and seamless.

An excellent vendor also acts as a consultant and educator, making hospital staff comfortable with new technology and uncovering strategies for optimizing workflow. The importance of evaluating the vendor as much as the product they are delivering cannot be stressed enough. Vendors that lack expertise, training capabilities and clear steps toward go-live and beyond are critical red flags.

A team approach to health IT doesn’t guarantee that technology adoption and implementation will be a success—but it will significantly increase its chances of sustainability. Today’s nurses have neither the desire nor the option to be passive consumers of health IT. The seamless integration of technology requires that direct-care clinical staff have influence in the design and testing of equipment and applications. Involving end-users in the early stages of system analysis and design specifications can lead to better adoption of new technology, as well as identifying how current technology can be adapted for greater user acceptance.

About the Contributor

Jeanne Venella, DNP, MS, CEN, CPEN is Chief Nursing Officer at Bernoulli and has spent her career transforming nursing care and improving processes.