Ensuring a smooth ‘Go-Live’ process in the COVID-19 era

July 23, 2020

Moving charting software implementation out of the testing phase and into reality does not have to be a high-stress event.

When it comes to implementing new technology for medical charting, assessing capabilities in different software options, reviewing system requirements, configuring the system, and multiple rounds of testing prior to launch are all important. However, when capabilities become available for end users–the “Go Live” phase–it is crunch time.

Unanticipated hiccups can put strains both on IT and on the workforce, and the possibility of a major malfunction during launch puts long-cultivated client relationships and trust at risk.

As if the final stretch toward the implementation finish line was not trying enough, COVID-19 introduced a whole new dynamic. Remote work, daily work patterns, and greater need for client reassurance can add an additional layer of tension to Go Live events. But even in the midst of a new work environment, moving charting software implementation out of the testing phase and into reality does not have to be a high-stress event.

Here are three steps healthcare solutions providers can take to support a smooth Go Live experience:

1. Identify “Superusers” early in the process.

In the healthcare setting, the ongoing needs of physicians, anesthesiologists, and nursing staff during a charting software implementation need to be top of mind and will likely be the “Superusers” of whatever software solution is chosen by the organization. The implementation process should focus on training Superusers to be masters of the digital charting process instead of simply providing staff with detailed information they may not have time to read through or synthesize.

Consider dedicating an in-service day to training users that will be interacting with the system the most, both to allow time to explore the new system in-depth and to build an in-house network of peers. Training guides should be provided to reference post training, along with shorter training sessions to help Superusers understand the nuances of charting capabilities as they master the basics.

2. Troubleshoot charting problems.

Many charting implementation efforts fail because managers underestimate the need to overcome roadblocks in implementation associated with habits developed using legacy software or workplace culture. Especially when moving from paper records to digital, old medical records can be hard to read and littered with outdated or irrelevant information.

To help with the process of switching to a new system, software providers have developed very detailed procedure and documentation requirements that puts ownership on the provider. This accountability better prepares the provider to troubleshoot and problem solve issues before calling support.

The lead up time to the ‘Go Live’ event should involve a realistic assessment of the time needed to transfer data from an old charting system to a new one. It should also include buffer time to troubleshoot issues with wi-fi, hardware, and chart access.

3. Practice makes perfect.

Going Live with a new charting system is not just about technology implementation, there’s also human behavior. In the current COVID-19 environment, remote charting training can allow end users to get comfortable with using the software, devices, and applications without having to physically come into the office.

Giving detailed instructions on platforms like Zoom that allow for screen sharing in addition to audio and written handouts can be an effective training approach. The training approach is also aided significantly when trainers assign realistic learning deadlines, a method for measuring knowledge gains and providing plenty of opportunity for hands-on learning.

As the “Go Live” expression suggests, the end goal is to make the charting process as simple as flipping a switch. However, skepticism remains. The same Stanford Medicine study found that four in 10 PCPs (40%) believed there were more challenges than benefits with EHRs. By taking steps to help the process leading up to the Go Live date, health systems can build confidence in their workforce prior to launch, and ensure the move is a seamless one.

About the Author

Elaine Gillespie is Associate Vice President of Professional Services at technology provider HST Pathways.