How should a healthcare organization use project management to the best of its advantage?

Healthcare leaders should consider these specific areas across the project management stages – planning, implementation, and maintenance phases, and adopt the right practices at each stage to enable quick and effortless adoption of healthcare technology advances.

Program Planning

Identify and define organizational needs

• Understand and communicate the underlying vision and need for the new technology in the organization. Take inputs from departmental stakeholders and ensure all employees align with the need for the future system.

• Equip departmental leads with authority to determine the size and capability of the proposed technological change.

• Refrain from high-level and complex customization in technology, especially during the program execution stage. Complex customization can cause delays, high costs, employee dissatisfaction, and more maintenance charges.

Identify key stakeholders

• Identify key stakeholders from the organization across business, operations, and technology areas right at the beginning of the project lifecycle.

• Involve the selected stakeholders in key aspects of the program such as vendor selection, project planning, system design, etc.

Define preliminary requirements

• Understand and specify the preliminary requirements of the future solution during the planning phase to ensure it is aligned with the business and clinical needs of the organization. These requirements will enable the organization to pick the right solution according to the needs and provide a benchmark for vendors to provide an adequate response to the proposals sent.

Carefully choose the solution vendor

• Define the scope of the project exclusively and choose a vendor solution as per requirement. Be careful as vendor solutions have different integrations with the present and future solutions.

• Specify the role and involvement of the vendor across the stages of the project. Be sure to mention this during the contract negotiations.

Recognize peripheral system influence

• Identify the incompatibilities and integration points for the peripheral systems and the novel solution.

• Assess the cost, effort, and resources involved in integrating the old system with the newly proposed solution.

Create an independent team for project management and quality assurance

• Create two different teams. One that independently monitors the project, its progress, risks, and mitigation strategies focused on quality, and reports directly to the senior leaders.

• Alternatively, create an independent team that oversees the implementation and execution of the project, in addition to risks involved, and aims to control and mitigate any risks hampering the future solution implementation.

• Gather independent opinions from stakeholders involved regarding changes, new systems, policies, infrastructure, business processes, risks, and more.

Implementation Planning

Choose the governance model

• Create a comprehensive and strong governance model.

• Form a steering committee that involves senior leadership as well as key stakeholders from areas affected by the new project.

• Engage and support an effective dialogue exchange between all parties involved, helping resolve issues and make quick decisions.

Engage an effective project manager and team

• Be careful to create a strong project management office (PMO) and identify an experienced, capable, and reliable project manager.

• Work with the PMO to define the project guidelines and processes before the vendor is onboard and implementation begins.

• Set standards for the PMO, making it easier to track progress and identify errors and delays.

Define clear and realistic goals

• Set up realistic goals and outcome benchmarks to ensure effective tracking of the project progress. Unrealistic goals might seem attractive but can break the team morale.

• Track performance based on defined indicators across the project life cycle.

Be ready for change

• New solutions are expected to disrupt the existing processes and every workflow. Engage with all stakeholders and not just leaders to communicate the need, role, vision, and progress of the proposed solution. Build a culture of adoption and be open to criticism and feedback.

• Ensure leaders are also operationally involved in the project implementation to encourage a culture where change is welcome and appreciated.

Test and verify

• Structure a test plan to assess all components of the new solution as well as any affected area.

• Invest time and resources in training the staff supporting the new solution. Some organizations outsource support and maintenance. However, outsourcing is an expensive and demanding option in comparison to in-house hosting.


Be ready for the support model

• Create a comprehensive support plan including all aspects – people, processes, technology. This will require significant investment, patience, and above all strategic planning.

• Ensure the staff is trained early on so that there is adequate support in the new solution implementation.

• In the case of outsourcing, careful thought, planning, and management are required.

Prepare for costs

• Develop a long-term comprehensive budget and financial plan for the project.

• Invest and train the internal support resources on how to maintain the new solution. This will be an ongoing process.

• Account for costs such as software license fees, infrastructure maintenance, replacement, inventory, etc.

Train end-users

• Create a robust training plan and set aside a generous budget to train the end-users on the new solution. This is a critical step since most healthcare organizations fail because of a lack of end-user adaptation and training.

• Account for errors, delays, and their impact on the operations financially.

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