A successful implementation requires more than funds; it also requires appropriate expectations based on measurable outcomes, research and measurement, and the right expertise to design a well thought out implementation plan. While many of these plans are comprehensive, others are executed based upon a specific use or application, such as telemedicine, electronic medical records, health information exchange, networking or video.

Consider this a critical “translation” step of reconciling the approved strategy with the realities and limitations of the environment. These include but aren’t limited to: access to resources (people, money, knowledge) and buy-in from leadership to set up the implementation team for success.

5. Information: Quality improves outcomes

Currently we’re all focused on electronic medical records, but in the context of the other 12 best practices it’s easy to see that electronic medical records play an integral — albeit supporting — role within the broader health IT framework. So the topic isn’t only about EMRs. It’s about information. And more specifically, it’s about getting the right information to the right person at the right time.

Why? At the risk of sounding redundant: to serve the Triple Aim. The demand for quality information will only continue to increase, so the key is to learn not only how to obtain and manage that information efficiently and effectively, but also to be able to share it easily and freely throughout the entire health-care continuum.

6. Support: Making it work every day

Once a network is designed and implemented, it’s important to ensure the needed resources are in place to support the strategy and solution that have been implemented. Expect modifications and subsequent investments that tie directly to the measurement and education of the solution. And most of all, make sure you have the right people and resources to work well with the technical, business and clinical staffs. Support should be considered throughout the life cycle: from the network level all the way through to the provider and patient or end-user.

7. Measurement : Access real-time information for improved decision-making

Because the aim of gathering information is to reduce costs and improve outcomes, it’s critical to regularly evaluate the success of health IT programs and modify or adjust them to meet your goals. The benefit of having access to real-time information supported by health IT is that it provides management with opportunities to adjust course before hitting a wall. Consider it a proactive check and balance system. Therefore, it’s not only important to allot time and resources for evaluating a program’s success, but it’s also critical to also to measure performance in a way that directly aligns with clearly stated goals and metrics.

A wealth of information and metrics can be gathered, so be strategic and specific when identifying what you’re tracking and why. Here are some questions to consider: How has your new EMR or telemedicine program served the Triple Aim? How can you work with other health-care providers and organizations to identify what and how the statewide community measures success? What action will you take if you discover your program isn’t living up to your expectations?

Set metrics to know whether or not your efforts have been successful.

8. Education: Shortening the divide from ‘have’ to ‘use’

Implementing new health IT solutions — from hardware rollout to process refinement — is just the beginning. To experience the full benefits and improved outcomes of health IT, you need to encourage users at all stages and phases of the process — from both inside and outside the organization, including other providers and the patients themselves — to make full use of the solution.

Targeted and user-focused communications are a core component of strong education programs. Simplifying complex information is a challenge, particularly when you are required to ask the user to change their existing behaviors, such as how they enter or retrieve information in a new system. Because people absorb information differently, consider providing the material in a variety of formats: hard-copy literature, electronic, visual and in-person training sessions.

Kim Lamb  |  executive director, Oregon Health Network

Kim Lamb is the executive director of the Oregon Health Network