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PICK THE RIGHT TEAM FOR AN EMR HOME RUN

April 1, 2006
by NICOLE PASSAGE
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Avoid costly errors by choosing the right players for your software implementation team

The New York Yankees have won more World Series championships than any other Major League Baseball team (26 total, four in the past ten years). Whether you are a die-hard Yanks fan or cheer for any team competing against them, all can agree that the Yankees know how to put together a winning team.

Electronic medical record (EMR) implementations are a lot like baseball franchises—success depends on the team and its ability to work together, magnifying talents individually and collectively. Drafting the right players is vital to winning a championship—and a successful EMR implementation. Here are the key positions to have on your implementation team, along with the skills they need:

The Coach

The coach is the project leader, usually a representative from the software vendor who is ultimately responsible for the implementation's success. This person should have extensive experience implementing the vendor's software solutions at other organizations and should make configuration and process recommendations based on best practices, as well as anticipate potential curveballs in the implementation process.

Pitcher and Catcher

The communication level between the pitcher and catcher makes the difference between winning or losing the implementation game. These are the project managers, one representative from the software vendor and one representative from your organization.

The vendor project manager should coordinate and follow up on project tasks as well as update the project plan. This person also should communicate project progress to the project leader and implementation team and serve as the primary contact for your organization's project manager. Similarly, your organization's project manager should coordinate and follow up on all internal project tasks and communicate progress to the vendor's project manager. Together, these project managers ensure open communication is maintained and the project stays on track.

Fielders

The infielders and outfielders are project team members, the staff involved in implementation preparation, strategic planning, and execution of the project's goals and objectives. As these individuals play both offense and defense, here are three suggestions for selecting the right players:

  • Choose project team members who represent the multiple programs and departments within your organization. Most organizations tend to have an ambiguous grasp on how each department or program is functioning in conjunction with each other pre-EMR implementation. Selecting team members from each program provides your implementation team with a comprehensive view of how each area of your organization will be affected by the new EMR application, and what approaches to the implementation will offer the greatest benefits for all.

  • Select project team members who have some level of decision-making authority for their respective areas within your organization. Including too many non-decision makers likely will slow the implementation's progress.

  • Select team members who are committed to the project's success and are willing and able to invest the time and energy an EMR implementation requires.

MVP

The most valuable player or project champion is most influential in promoting the success of the EMR implementation. Typically, the project champion will be your organization's CEO or executive director. Support and enthusiasm from the top down is crucial for the success of the implementation team and project. The project champion should be an active participant in the life cycle of the project—initial planning meetings, project milestones, and final project review—and should communicate successes and appropriate lessons learned to all staff throughout the project's life cycle, not just at the end.

As in major league baseball, drafting the right EMR implementation team for your behavioral health organization is the first step to a successful season. Choose the right players to lead your team to an EMR implementation championship!

Nicole Passage is Director of Marketing and Sales at ClaimTrak Systems, Inc., a provider of integrated EMR solutions for behavioral health and human service organizations.

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