How to Successfully Launch a Healthcare Communication Platform

How to Successfully Launch a Healthcare Communication Platform

Whether you’ve decided to implement a healthcare communication platform or are still assessing its value for your organization, you should be aware of what an implementation will require.

This article is a summary of recommendations from leading vendors in the healthcare communication space. While there is flexibility within these steps to reflect your organization’s culture and structure, no step should be skipped.

Step 1: Establish Interdisciplinary Governance

Unite all stakeholders from the beginning

Since a healthcare communication platform will touch many areas of your organization, you should form a Governance Committee comprised of representatives from all stakeholder groups. This committee’s role is to determine the goals and strategy for project implementation and to pursue organization-wide awareness throughout each stage of the project. Members should address questions, concerns, and feedback from the employees who will be affected by the new system.

Possible committee members include:

    • An executive sponsor, such as the Chief Information Officer. This person will be aware of other strategic priorities that may compete for funding, IT resources, and training resources.
    • A clinical leader, often a physician executive and a nurse executive. These executives possess invaluable information about existing communication and workflow practices that support patient care.
    • One or more clinically focused business owners who routinely make tactical decisions and help overcome roadblocks.
    • A project manager who coordinates project details and ensures progress against the project timeline.
    • An IT leader, who can ensure all technical requirements and setup of this integrated software application that is feasible and correctly implemented.

If you form your Governance Committee before selecting a healthcare communication platform vendor, the committee’s first task is to choose a vendor. You should expect your vendor partner to provide essential guidance throughout the project lifecycle, based on its implementation and operations experience with other healthcare organizations. Therefore, it’s crucial that you select a qualified, seasoned vendor.

After you’ve completed Step 1, inform your organization. Summarize what you accomplished in Step 1, explain the reasons for this project, and provide the following list so everyone knows the project’s status:

☑ Establish Interdisciplinary Governance

☐ Define Success

☐ Align with Best Practices

☐ Deploy to Your Care Team

☐ Measure and Adjust

Step 2: Define Success

Determine desired outcomes that can be measured

The Governance Committee, with input from your vendor partner, should create a set of target metrics that enable your organization to measure the success of your platform. In Step 5, you’ll review the data to monitor and improve your healthcare communication platform.

Here are five suggested metrics to watch.

1. Adoption Rate

For each user group, what is your target adoption rate? For example, you may want 100% participation from nursing, patient transport, and discharge planning personnel, but you may consider 95% a successful adoption rate for physicians. If you decide to mandate usage for all clinical staff, your vendor partner can guide the process of creating and communicating a formal policy around this mandate.

2. Industry Benchmarks

Your vendor should be able to provide benchmarks for specific user groups, based on data collected from healthcare organizations with mature clinical communication systems. You can select relevant metrics as targets for your organization. Some examples you might see are:

    • 52 percent of ischemic stroke patients receive tPA within 45 minutes of arrival in the emergency room
    • Hospital-based Sepsis Response Teams receive seven alerts per 100 beds per week

3. Response Time

There are multiple metrics in this category to consider, such as:

    • How quickly are text messages read?
    • How long does it take to respond to specific emergent orders?
    • How quickly are critical lab results delivered?

4. Elapsed Time

There are several metrics in this category that a successful implementation will improve. In most cases, you can pull “before” metrics from your clinical database. For example:

    • Reduced Length of Stay (by percent or time)
    • Reduced door-to-doctor time in the ED (by percent)
    • Reduced discharge process (by time)
    • Reduced readmissions (by percent)

5. Patient and Employee Satisfaction

An effective platform improves the overall patient experience and also raises staff productivity and enthusiasm because everyone observes the improved care team collaboration and efficiency of healthcare operations.

After you’ve completed Step 2, inform your organization. Summarize the results of Step 2, describing the expected benefits of this new system. Provide the following list so everyone knows the project’s status:

☑ Establish Interdisciplinary Governance

☑ Define Success

☐ Align with Best Practices

☐ Deploy to Your Care Team

☐ Measure and Adjust

Step 3: Align with Best Practices

Develop efficient workflows that support your mission

Next, your Governance Committee should work with your vendor partner to plan, develop, and unit test your healthcare communication platform.

The good news is that you won’t be starting from scratch. Your vendor partner will be aware of potential challenges and will help you avoid them. They will also have in-depth knowledge of best practices, which will enable you to create a robust, user-friendly platform that immediately drives your organization toward the desired outcomes you established in Step 2.

Here are eight areas where you’ll lean on your vendor’s knowledge and experience to ensure a successful rollout.

1. Communication

A healthcare communication platform implementation often introduces change to an organization’s culture. To facilitate that change, you’ll need a comprehensive communication plan that keeps the project top-of-mind and keeps staff apprised of project progress and timelines.

2. Device Management

Should you provide a mobile device for all employees? Should you deploy a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model, and if so, should you make shared devices available for some clinical roles? Will you have spare devices available for staff who lose, break, or forget to bring their phone? Will you provide charging stations?

3. Security

You’ll need a HIPAA-compliant messaging solution that doesn’t put patient data at risk, even if a clinician’s phone is lost or stolen. For this reason, cloud-based systems with end-to-end encryption (in transport and at reset) and strong authentication methods are essential.

If your organization wants the full protection of a platform with HITRUST certification, you have limited options because most vendors don’t complete this rigorous process.

4. Wireless Accessibility

Your vendor partner will help you execute a comprehensive test of your wireless access points. They’ll know where to look for dead spots and how to eliminate them. You should test accessibility at all places employees visit, such as administrative offices, patient rooms, cafeterias, conference rooms, restrooms, hallways, and parking lots. Also, test for smooth roaming between access points.

5. Integrations

You have many options for integrations with existing mission-critical systems. Your vendor-partner can guide you through the process of building a healthcare communication platform that seamlessly passes alerts, data, messages, voice, images, and video to and from these types of systems:

    • Lab
    • EHR
    • Alarms
    • Nurse Call
    • Phone system
    • Radiology / PACS
    • Corporate directory
    • Role-based staffing schedules
    • Single sign-on
    • Call center and after-hours answering service

6. Training

Your vendor partner should offer all the possible training options you’ll need:

    • On-site training
    • Online training resources or webinars
    • 24-hour support
    • Internally targeted marketing to generate excitement and promote widespread adoption

Develop training materials for staff to support the rollout. If you select an easy-to-use system, training may be minimal, focusing on the use and features of the platform.

7. Disaster Recovery

Top clinical communication systems are highly reliable (for instance, TigerConnect boasts 99.99 percent uptime), but you should still deploy your platform under a High Availability infrastructure. Your vendor partner can help you plan and document an excellent Disaster Recovery strategy.

8. Noncompliance Strategy

Noncompliance has two faces. First, you may have clinicians who fall back to standard SMS text messaging. This texting method is not secure, and therefore not HIPAA compliant and must be eliminated.

Second, your vendor partner can help you devise a strategy to address clinicians who do not use, or who under-utilize, your platform. Push to achieve the adoption rate target you set in Step 2.

After you’ve completed Step 3, announce the progress to your organization. Summarize the results of Step 3 and provide the following list so everyone knows the project’s status:

☑ Establish Interdisciplinary Governance

☑ Define Success

☑ Align with Best Practices

☐ Deploy to Your Care Team

☐ Measure and Adjust

Step 4: Deploy to Your Care Team

Train all clinicians for maximum effectiveness

If you’ve carefully completed the first three steps and consistently communicated project progress and timelines, your launch will go smoothly.

First, roll out the training plan with deadlines for completing any required training. Then open the system for usage by all care team members. Be prepared to follow up with care teams and answer any questions they may have.

After you’ve completed Step 4, announce to your organization that you’ve successfully launched your healthcare communication platform. Summarize the implementation and inform everyone that you are now in the optimization phase where you’ll measure pre-defined key performance indicators.

☑ Establish Interdisciplinary Governance

☑ Define Success

☑ Align with Best Practices

☑ Deploy to Your Care Team

☐ Measure and Adjust

Step 5: Measure and Adjust

Leverage data to drive behavior and results

Day 1 of your healthcare communication platform implementation is the correct time to begin monitoring the metrics you selected in Step 2. Publish graphs, charts, and relevant before-and-after statistics in a weekly email to your organization so everyone can see the impact of your new system.

Don’t hide the undesirable metrics. Instead, provide visibility and work with your vendor partner to implement improvement plans to drive toward your goals.

After you’ve completed Step 5, your checklist is complete. You’ll monitor and measure pre-defined key performance indicators and use the data to drive adoption and success.

☑ Establish Interdisciplinary Governance

☑ Define Success

☑ Align with Best Practices

☑ Deploy to Your Care Team

☑ Measure and Adjust

Conclusion

Implementing a healthcare communication platform will be a major step forward in helping your organization connect better — both as a care team and with your patients. There’s a lot at stake, with many factors to consider, so be sure to select a vendor with deep healthcare industry experience. The right vendor partner will not only help you implement a reliable solution successfully, but they will also be there to help you get the most from it through integrations with existing systems, widespread adoption strategies, and continual innovations to serve your staff and patients as their needs evolve.

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