Guest post by Sivan Agranat, M.D., VP, Medical R&D, medCPU.
The successful implementation of new IT solutions can depend as much on user acceptance as on the technical aspects of implementation. Gaining that user acceptance is largely a matter of ensuring stakeholders are part of the conversation during pre-implementation, followed by fully accounting for and meeting end-user needs during roll-out and beyond. Nobody, especially busy doctors and nurses, appreciates having new technology dropped on them; nor should they. Their input throughout the process is critical not only to their acceptance, but also to solution optimization.
The following is a suggested course of action for gaining stakeholder buy-in and sustained satisfaction that can make new technologies a welcomed addition to clinical care settings.
The technology selection process
Provider organizations invariably have some clinicians who appreciate the benefits of health IT more so than others, and who serve as internal IT champions. When their opinions are respected by their peers, they can be invaluable allies in new implementation projects, which is why it’s imperative to loop them in as clinical representatives at the beginning of the vendor selection process. Their combination of clinical expertise and affinity for IT can be indispensable in validating vendor claims, ensuring the most promising solutions rise to the top. Additionally, having been involved from project start can help enable them to be better positioned to promote the solution internally and offer meaningful support to their peers as they gain user proficiency.
One important element that’s too often overlooked is: When gathering input from clinical representatives during vendor selection, pay close attention to ensure solution capabilities align with existing workflows. Making later adjustments to ensure the right information is delivered to the right person at the right time can be costly and time-consuming.
Before making a final decision on vendor selection, hold an all-stakeholder preview meeting. This can help head off resistance while gaining needed input. Include all targeted end users, not just nurses and doctors, but members of the nursing and clinical support teams as well. If the implementation is a major initiative, consider having meetings with primary stakeholders and include an introduction by the Chief Medical Officer, who can best explain the project’s importance.
In all stakeholder preview meetings, begin by describing how and why the project transpired and what it is designed to accomplish. Next demonstrate the solution and engage people and ask for their feedback. Most importantly, take all feedback to heart, and address stated concerns as clearly as possible. This attention and courtesy can help ward off skepticism at time of rollout, and help ensure acceptance. Also, you may learn from the end user feedback that will help foster enhanced final adjustments before the actual rollout.
Managing the rollout
For complex solutions or those that are significantly different from what users are accustomed to, you may want to engage the hospital education department for training assistance. Professional instructors can successfully transfer knowledge about the use of complex technology, and hospital educators are well-versed in the ways healthcare professionals approach new solutions. Supplementing them with the clinical IT champions who participated throughout the solution selection process – as trainers who have “walked the walk” – can build stronger trust and comfort levels with end-users.
Regardless of who conducts the training, it’s important to ensure that it’s sufficiently focused to empower the new users. It’s good to work in small groups and to roll out the new solution in series across facilities. Feedback gathered at the end of each training session can help improve subsequent sessions and steadily increase training satisfaction.
Even with the most successful vendor selection and rollout management, there will be end user issues, however small. How they are resolved can, in part, be determined by adoption success. Consistent follow-up on end user requests with minimal wait times can help alleviate struggles before they compound into larger issues, and may lead to improvements that further streamline workflow efficiencies.
In addition to following up on end-user requests, proactively asking users how you can help them obtain the most value from their new technology keeps the conversation open. Technical support doesn’t get better than that, and it will help pave the way for user acceptance when the next IT implementation arrives.