Best Practices in Healthcare IT Project Management
From EHR and ICD-10 to the continuous flood of software and mobile applications, the requirements of healthcare IT are constantly evolving. As a result, effective project management has become absolutely critical not only for managing the adoption and implementation process, but also for the decommissioning of legacy applications. Unfortunately this task increasingly falls to IT staff members who aren't project management experts. With federal requirements not going away and the pace of change in the healthcare IT department accelerating, staff members need to choose both internal strategies and outsourced vendors who have the expertise and ability to keep pace. If you’re managing projects on your own, here are a few key principles to guide your approach to project management, regardless of how much experience you have.
- Simplify, simplify, simplify.Most healthcare IT projects are complex enough, without introducing superfluous elements or struggling with cumbersome project management tools. First and foremost, determine the key stakeholders in the project and decide on the simplest way to involve them. Although unilateral decision-making certainly isn't the goal, reducing the number of people who have to weigh in on every aspect of a project will certainly pay off. Meanwhile, the project management methods and tools you use should be user-friendly enough for everyone involved--and robust enough to address all the project's requirements. By properly configuring the role of stakeholders and using the right tools to manage the process, you'll find that it's easier to focus on the results of the project, rather than worrying about how the project is managed and tracked
- Make traceability a priority. Most healthcare IT projects require participation and cooperation from a variety of individuals and departments, from clinicians to administrative staff. Therefore it's crucial to trace progress, responsibility and outcomes. Choose your project management tools accordingly; the best software will make traceability a breeze for any member of your team. And speaking of your team, emphasize that traceability will play a central role in the execution of the project and teach them how to use the available tools to trace key project deliverables through the lifecycle of the project. This step brings an added sense of accountability and often makes it easier to keep everyone on the same page as you delve deeper into the project.
- Constantly evaluate workflow and value. Perhaps the greatest pitfall of project management is getting caught up in issues that are not considered important or do not contribute significant value to the project's outcome. The most adept project managers navigate the tempestuous waters of complicated projects by maintaining a singular focus on the essentials. The multiplicity of options and variables can easily overwhelm even the most dedicated team. Instead of concentrating on unimportant topics or issues, focus on the end goal, and ask whether each detail or step brings the team closer to this goal. Simultaneously strive to streamline workflows and add value so that people can spend their time actually completing the project. Note that this doesn't mean bulldozing people with legitimate concerns and questions; it does mean maintaining a laser-like focus on the desired result and aggressively working to achieve it.
Ultimately the right tools and focus are the most important factors in successful project management. Empower your team with tools and techniques to cut through the noise, and they can easily clear a path to the finish line!
Robert Williams is founder of goPMO, which offers the healthcare industry a practical implementation approach for project management. After many years as an IT leader in the industry, Robert saw a clear need for greater efficiency in project consideration and execution. Thus goPMO provides both an easy-to-use self-serve project implementation tool and full-service project management consultation. A certified PMP from the Project Management Institute, Williams empowers healthcare organizations and PMO's to be catalysts for high impact and powerful project delivery.