There are five types of organizational stakeholders that need engagement to increase the likelihood of success for health care technology implementation projects: clinical, information technology (IT), informatics, biomedical engineering (BME) and facilities management.
Instead of training all clinicians to use the technology, you’ll see better results using a “super user” approach. Work with key clinical leaders to identify potential super users.
Though it’s a newer specialty, Informatics professionals are a bridge builder and can help keep an eye on the big picture. If a hospital doesn’t have an informatics department within the clinical or IT domain, the integrator should assume this role during a project.
From physiological monitoring systems and workflow applications to real-time location systems (RTLS) and electronic health records (EHR), medical technology is a thoroughly integrated and vital component of our healthcare system. And as the U.S. healthcare systems become more complex, it is increasingly important to invest in new technologies that empower healthcare providers to meet patients’ needs.
Since healthcare technology is so ingrained in our day-to-day treatment modalities, it can feel overwhelming to contemplate overhauling and improving tech systems. That’s where an integrator like Lone Star Communications comes into play. Integrators facilitate communication between different medical center departments and help to ensure that system-wide tech implementation runs smoothly.
But success is never guaranteed. Engaging key stakeholders — from different parts of the organization — throughout the process is a necessary step of any technology implementation project.
Keep reading to learn more about the five organizational stakeholders that integrators need to work with when embarking on technology implementation at a medical center.
1. Clinical: Involve Them Early and Often
The first set of stakeholders to engage: is the clinical team, which includes anyone who might use the new system as part of their job. You’ll want to involve a range of clinicians, such as:
Front Line Nursing Staff who provide Patient Care
It is critical to get their buy-in since they’ll actually use the technology day in and day out. Their opinions and points of view are invaluable. You also want to get the Clinical Application Specialist — or a person in a similar Informatics role — involved at the very beginning of the tech implementation process. Having the right clinical leaders immersed early on will save you time at the end of the project.
Clinical’s role: Clinicians can give you a clear idea of how workflows typically function, and whether there are common pain points the tech — real time location systems, for example — should address. Clinical team members also have unique insights when it comes to staffing, the education levels of staff and training needs.
Key takeaway: Identify “super users” who are technically savvy and train them instead of doing a catch-all training for all clinicians. Nurse educators can be a great source for identifying nursing staff who will be interested in learning the new technology.
Keep in mind: Make a point to engage with clinicians at all levels. Leadership is essential for budgeting information, for example, while frontline team members are intimately familiar with workflows.
Remember, not all clinicians will have the same level of technical knowledge or information about the tech implementation plan. When you meet with frontline clinical staff, take the time to fill them in on their new equipment, what's going to be installed, and how this technology may interact with existing equipment.
2. Information Technology: The Technical Linchpin
Most often, the information technology (IT) team oversees the implementation of new technology. Spearheading implementation and setting deliverables, this department needs to have a clear understanding of the following:
How long implementation is expected to take
Which initiatives the hospital is working towards and why
What the timelines are in order to manage deliverables
IT’s role: IT is essential because they are best positioned to navigate how a hospital’s different technologies are interconnected. Ideally, IT should be able to tell you what devices are interfaced, though this isn’t always clear in large integrated digital networks.
Key takeaway: Some hospitals will have an IT project manager who can serve as your point-person during the implementation process. It’s critical to find IT people within the organization who have both a macro view of how processes are set up, as well as a micro view of the final user experience.
Keep in mind: The level of connection and communication between IT and clinical teams varies greatly among different hospitals. As an integrator, you're in a unique position to act as a bridge between departments that may not interact frequently or have established channels of communication.
3. Informatics: The Bridge Between Medical and Tech
Informatics specialists build bridges between different departments, and are essentially the translators between clinical and IT. While informatics is a specialty that's only been around for approximately 30 years, it’s increasingly popular and necessary — especially in large hospital systems.
Informatics’ role: The informatics specialist is someone who is going to keep the bigger picture in mind, whether that is increasing efficiency, reducing error rates or optimizing how to accomplish work.
Informatics should ensure that all parties are on the same page regarding:
Final project objectives
Informatics is also indispensable from a quality assurance or oversight perspective. These days, many organizations have Chief Medical Informatics Officers or Chief Nursing Informatics Officers who can lead the way and get everyone on the same page when a new technical project is underway.
Key takeaway: Informatics may be housed under IT or under Clinical, so look for the bridge-builders throughout the organization. Some hospitals may not have developed Informatics departments at all, in which case you may need to take on the role of the primary integrator.
Keep in mind: It can be difficult for various departments to communicate due to differences in language and terminology. IT, for example, may speak in a highly technical way that isn’t familiar to the clinical team. By the same token, clinicians frequently communicate using medical jargon and acronyms. The informaticist should translate important information for key players in both departments.
4. Biomedical Engineering: The Go-To for Patient Equipment
Biomedical engineering (BME) is tasked with managing all of the medical devices that patients could encounter. From IV pumps to cardiac monitors to ventilators, BME needs to:
Understand how the equipment works
Know how to fix hardware and tools
Manage a system for tracking equipment use
This team is essential when installing new technology or interfacing with existing equipment. Depending on the facility, BME, rather than IT, might own some of the technology that you're deploying.
BME’s role: Already familiar with various departments as well as devices and equipment, this team can act as your guide within the facility.
Key takeaway: Make a point to establish a relationship with BME early in the implementation process. You’ll likely need to troubleshoot issues with them down the line when things aren’t working correctly (which is inevitable); this is considerably easier and more efficient when BME is already looped into the implementation strategy, and the equipment they’ll need to procure.
Keep in mind: The BME team is a great resource to help you identify key contacts across a medical center because they interface with all departments.
5. Facilities Management: Important Infrastructure Guides
This department manages the non-medical equipment and infrastructure of the organization: beds, telephones and lightbulbs.
Facilities management will often be the team to help you onsite, if, for example, a download requires completion.
FM’s role: Facilities management is another resource to help you get a lay of the land within an organization. Because they work with every single department in the hospital, they know everyone, and understand the “how” of day to day processes.
Key takeaway: As with BME, facilities management may be able to help you gain access to the people with whom you haven’t been able to connect. So, tap them as a resource early on.
Keep in mind: Not all organizations make a distinction between BME and facilities management. Make sure you know who, specifically, is responsible for particular equipment and technology.
There are no two ways about it: Each stakeholder is equally important for technology implementation. They all bring a different perspective.
While there’s no way to absolutely guarantee a smooth tech rollout (and some hiccups are unavoidable) you can increase your likelihood of success by getting key players on board early.
Regina Wysocki, is an Informatics Clinical Application Specialist at Lone Star Communications, and a thought leader on best practices when working with stakeholders through complex healthcare implementation and digital transformation projects. She’s worked on several technology projects at places like Houston Methodist and Texas Children’s Hospital.