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7 Keys to Medical Software Implementation

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Medical software implementation is often a challenge for healthcare practices since they are busy caring for patients and face difficulties in setting up new systems and training staff on how to use them. How can providers be sure to have a successful software implementation?

7 Keys to Medical Software Implementation

Implementing new software has many facets, but some careful planning can make a huge difference in the process. These include the following:

1) Assemble a Team

Create a team of people that can help you decide on which software to use, determine how it will affect the workflow of your facility, and express the importance of the software to all of your employees. The team should have at least one person who will use the software, one manager to monitor the results and one person from each department who can be a team lead and train others. Ideally, the team members should be comfortable with technology and respected by others in the office.

2) Determine Best Practices Before You Buy

After you assemble your team, work with them and the vendor to determine best practices–that is, how your office will actually use the software. This involves understanding tasks and workflow, user access, and how the system will be monitored. This can be difficult to do without seeing the software, so ask for demos and possibly a trial period to work with the program out before you start your implementation.

3) Examine the Implementation Requirements

At the same time, take a look at how the software will be set up. Will you host the software on your own servers, or use a cloud-based system? Hosting your own system requires a large investment, whereas cloud-based software usually has just a monthly or yearly subscription. Cloud-based programs can also be accessed from any pc or smart device connected to the internet.

In addition, most programs will require some manual data upload at the beginning. This often the most time-consuming part of your implementation process, so it is very important to understand the amount of time that will require. Ask if the vendor can use spreadsheets or existing data to upload into the new system. This can save a lot of time and make the implementation go more smoothly.

4) Don’t Take Shortcuts 

After you decide to purchase a system, you will work with your team and vendor to plan the implementation process. As you do so, remember that adequate time is essential. Try to resist the urge to rush the timeline, since an extra few hours or days could be the difference between frustration or success.  If you take your time and do things the right way, especially in regards to data upload (see above), the software will function correctly and give you the benefits that it promised.

5) Train All Potential Users

This is key since employees who are not trained properly can thwart all the hard work you put into implementation. Work with your team and vendor to plan a training schedule, and provide employees the reference manual and whatever resources they need. Also, make sure that their managers send the clear message that the new software is not optional. It only takes one bad user to skew the entire system, so everyone has to be on board.

6) Set Up a Process for New Hire Training

First, ask your vendor if they can provide continuous new hire training. But even if they do, you will still need a resource that employees can refer to for daily questions and understand how the system functions in your office.

For this, the official user manual can be helpful, but they may not follow the best practices you want to use. It is highly suggested that you create a manual for your facility that gives each type of employee a step by step explanation on how to use the software according to your workflow. Relying on current employees to train new hires is convenient, but over time with employee turnover, there is the risk some key steps will be lost.

7) Educate Your Entire Workforce

When you have the new software in place, you need to inform your entire workforce. The goal is twofold: first, you want to discourage users from ignoring the system and staying with their old habits. Second, even if some staffs are not using the software in their current role, they may eventually switch positions that require them to start using it.

In other words, you need to run an internal “p.r. campaign” for the new software. Plan to run the campaign for at least six months, or even a year. Some techniques include sending company-wide emails, holding meetings (with snacks and treats), and regular messages on whatever internal communications system you have in place (e.g. large-screen monitors, posters, etc.). Even something as simple as a sign on the supply closet door can help; the message can say something like, “Attention Staff: We are now using and inventory management system. Please do not remove anything out of this room without scanning it out of the system or contacting the Material Manager.”

As you take the time to plan your new software implementation, it may seem laborious and time-consuming, but remember that in the long run, your practice will benefit greatly from a system that is effectively installed and used by all your staff. This can help your office stay on a path of healthy performance for many years to come.