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How to deliver on-time, on-budget, and on-value health IT projects

Recently, an electrical outage occurred at my home. The lights, appliances, and technologies all went dark simultaneously in a few rooms. “No worries,” I told my wife, “Let me go flip the breaker.” I opened the circuit breaker box and flipped the switch a few times…but nothing happened. 

Now, I could have taken additional steps from here. I could have stood there and flipped that switch repeatedly. I could have tried to troubleshoot the issue by hopping on YouTube and trying to learn a new trade in a matter of hours. But I didn’t do any of these things, for a couple of reasons: 1) I didn’t have the knowledge or expertise, and 2) I didn’t have the right tools. 

Instead, I waved the white flag and called an electrician—a trained expert with the experience, knowledge, and tools to get the job done right. Yes, it cost me extra money, but it saved me valuable time and also ensured the project would be done well and prevent potentially serious consequences for my house and family down the road. 

Getting started with enterprise projects 

My experience with my circuit breaker isn’t so different from a hospital or hospital system completing a business case and preparing to start a new project. After outlining the major objective to be solved, identifying key stakeholders, and organizing the optimal governance structure, the next step is to start aligning budget and resources. It’s a good idea to ask: “What do we have the knowledge and expertise to do?” and “When do we need to call in the experts?”  

When hospitals implement large enterprise software, such as an EHR or a clinical communication platform, it generally takes both clinical and technical resources from within the hospital system to collaborate with vendor resources. Think of this partnership as somewhat like calling an electrician who has the right expertise, knowledge, and tools to help. If the right vendor is engaged, it should feel like hiring a trusted electrician who is willing to be mindful of your home and your family’s situation and needs, and can show you how the job gets done right. 

What’s different about SaaS/cloud-based solutions? 

The biggest difference with a SaaS or cloud-based solution is that there is much less emphasis on the technical and hardware aspects than with an on-premise solution. The overhead for those resources goes away, along with associated timing and scheduling issues. The project effort focuses more on onboarding and adoption of the new technology. While there are still technical considerations around integrations, reporting, and data cleansing, SaaS solutions offer a much shorter journey to the return on investment (ROI). What this all boils down to is that onboarding, adoption, and outcomes become the main focus, project durations are shorter, and the setup steps are lighter. In fact, even the vocabulary is different: setup versus implementation, onboard versus go-live, etc. 

What does it take to be successful? 

More than half of IT projects fail, and healthcare IT projects are notoriously complex. Additionally, according to the Spok Spok 2021 state of healthcare communications survey, nearly half of all planned IT communications projects were halted during the COVID-19 pandemic. These projects require healthcare organizations and technology vendors working together to navigate a complex, changing set of needs, requirements, and regulations. When considering these complexities and associated challenges, it’s not an easy task to achieve real world results and positive progress. It takes a deep understanding of the healthcare industry, technology, clinical, workflows, government programs, effective project methodology, and the individual health system to create strategies, plans and execution methodologies for success. 

Spok Professional Services—a team of certified project managers, solution architects and consultants, implementation consultants, and experienced trainers—walks with customers through every step of their project, making sure they stay on time and on budget to deliver the maximum value. My team has the clinical credentials, a wealth of experience in healthcare IT, and for a number of our team members, experience with Spok solutions from the customer implementation perspective. Each team member is working to help every hospital achieve a successful outcome. 

We can help with software design, project management, workflow consulting, solution implementation, and user adoption. We know that the implementation is the beginning, and our team will work alongside yours to help your organization everywhere along the way at any time during your journey. Together, we will align business and IT requirements to meet your goals,  design and build  technology solutions and business plans, deploy the solution to your end users, and optimize  VOI/ROI on an ongoing basis.  

Our experts are available to you with ready-to-go systems and trainings in place to ensure you are ready to adopt new functionality, learn best practices to navigate planned and unexpected situations, create strategies to effectively onboard and train your end-users, assure clean data in your database, and determine policies, procedures, and guidance for your health system. For cloud-based solution projects, we have specialized capabilities for adoption, workflow analysis, optimization, and training. Plus, you’ll have access to tools including project plans, a growing learning experience platform, readiness guides, technology workshops, best practices guides, workflow diagrams, training and user-acceptance testing (UAT) plans, organizational change management and communication plans, policies, and guiding principles. 

Results that speak for themselves 

The Spok Professional Services team has implemented clinical communication and collaboration solutions at more than 2,200 hospitals across the U.S., including all 30 adult and children’s hospitals named to 2021-22 U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals Honor Roll. We’ve helped customers achieve real-world results: Working with Spok consulting services, Sentara Healthcare saw a 98% decrease in pages sent to invalid devices. Union Hospital reduced communication breakdowns by 50 percent in partnership with the Spok project team. With our guidance, Maimonides Medical Center was able to take on the role of training and support for users. We want to use our expertise to help you achieve similar results at your organization. 

Take the next step: Start your health IT project today 

From the earliest stages of solution planning, through go-live, and continued optimization, our goal is to go above and beyond to make sure your communication solution helps you overcome your communication challenges and improve patient care. If you’d like to explore service options, please reach out to a sales representative to learn more, or check out our Professional Services group

Give Spok a call and we’ll make sure the job gets done right. We’ll make sure that you and your healthcare family—your hospital staff and your patients—are well taken care of. 

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in July 2018 and has been updated for relevancy and accuracy.