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Virtual Implementation for Cloud Communication Platforms

Follow These Best Practices for Virtual Implementation Success

Virtual implementations are becoming increasingly necessary for hospitals that want to upgrade their EHRs or deploy clinical collaboration platforms. Especially in the wake of COVID-19 and the changing healthcare landscape, hospitals and vendors need an effective way to implement clinical collaboration platforms with little to no on-site presence from the vendor.

Clinical collaboration platforms are one of the fastest growing sectors of healthcare IT services. Healthcare enterprises and physician practices are turning to them to streamline access to care, improve the quality of healthcare services and decrease overall costs.

Finding a way to perform widespread virtual implementations more effectively is critical.  Beyond expediting critical communications and clinical workflow, virtual implementations also offer:

  • Increased physician/clinical staff engagement
  • Ongoing usability/performance improvements
  • Increased platform awareness
  • Easily scalable and faster deployment

While virtual implementations have been successfully established with ambulatory care and smaller organizations, conducting virtual implementations for enterprise health systems is certainly more complex and therefore has proven difficult.  With a greater number of sites, users, necessary integrations and required workflows, larger enterprises need a certain degree of implementation expertise that system vendors lack.

However, with the right strategy, governance and user adoption tactics, any size organization can achieve successful virtual implementations.

How to Conduct Virtual Implementations: Best Practices

Any implementation needs to begin with a targeted, well thought out approach if you want to virtually deploy a well-adopted clinical collaboration platform for your team. Having a strong and structured virtual presence throughout the entire implementation process – from initial designs and project management to training and education – is the key to success and will help avoid some of the biggest obstacles when implementing a new system.

Here is what individual hospitals and larger enterprises alike have found success with:

Project Management

More than anything, you need to be able to coordinate efforts remotely. Implementing a clinical collaboration platform across a health system has numerous moving parts, from technical challenges and patient care considerations to stakeholders being spread out across multiple facilities. Without everyone in the same room, aligning all of these different parts can prove difficult.

However, with an experienced and strong project management team, both on the provider and vendor side, you can coordinate efforts from afar by focusing on the end goal. By having team members believe in the value of the new communication platform and what they will be able to achieve with it from the very start, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page. This includes making sure that stakeholders across the system are not only aligned, but actively making critical decisions that empower their teams to move the project forward.

Clinical Design

In order to successfully implement your clinical collaboration platform, you need to properly design and support key communication workflows for your clinicians across the continuum of patient care. With a virtual approach, you can better accommodate the schedules of your clinicians, allowing meeting times and information sessions to fit within their already busy day-to-day schedules.

This means providing the right framework and opportunity to learn the ins and outs of a health system’s communication patterns. That way, you can employ a prescriptive approach to platform implementation rather than trying to use a “one size fits all” methodology that often fails.

Individual hospitals and facilities will often operate differently, even when they are all a part of the same health system or enterprise, making a custom approach not just beneficial, but necessary. Finding a “clinical champion” that’s already rooted within the organization itself can prove invaluable. By having an individual that the team can trust help lead the charge, you’ll streamline adoption and improve workflows faster and more efficiently.

Technical Design

Your mission-critical applications are only as reliable as the technology that supports them. That’s why the technical design of your network needs to be tailored to the unique needs of your health system and the new technology you will be deploying. Additionally, it has to support future growth plans. Only then can you truly enable real-time communications.

Even with virtual implementations, you still need to properly understand your health system’s infrastructure, clinical application landscape, and any integration protocols that will impact the usability or performance of a clinical collaboration platform. With a virtual meeting space, you can enable the health system’s IT staff and resources to plan and conduct technical design meetings remotely, at a time and pace that best fits within the project timeline. You can also record virtual meetings so that clinicians or management can reference key discussions in the future.

Training and Education

For a clinical collaboration platform to be successful, physicians and hospital workers need to know how to use it. This goes beyond base platform functionality. Clinicians should be trained and informed on workflow best practices in order to use these technologies to their fullest, enabling better care.

When implementing these platforms remotely, E-learning strategies can deliver a virtual training experience that can sometimes even exceed on-site training. This involves providing the necessary training and education in a concise and efficient format. With detailed, short instruction videos, “best use” resources, and training course catalogs, system administrators and clinicians alike will be able to better utilize the platform to seamlessly execute day-to-day tasks.

You will also want to make sure that you account for the physical needs of nurses and physician staff who must now carry a mobile device on them during their shifts. Making sure that your staff has clothing with pockets that can reliably hold a mobile phone is necessary for success.

“Go Live” Command Centers

Once planning is complete and the framework is built, everything comes together in the clinical collaboration platform “go live” event. The need to properly support this effort is just as important as all of the work that proceeds it, if not even more. Virtual resources can make this process more efficient, allowing you to deploy quicker.

When managing these events, you must be able to offer consistent video and audio connections. Clinicians and hospital management must have constant access to virtual resources, allowing them to receive quick and efficient assistance with any end-user issues, questions, and support needs.

This is where mobile communication platforms offer significant value in the implementation process. Users can reach out to their provider during or after the event and get their questions answered in real-time through text-based or video services. Video check-ins in particular provide a more personalized experience, allowing virtual providers to meet face-to-face with the health system’s project team without needing to be on-site.

After deployment is complete, you will also want to look for additional ways that your communication platform can add ease and simplicity to clinician and operational workflows, such as messaging coworkers instead of having to physically travel to their office.

Virtual Implementation Case Study: The Henry Ford Health System

Halo Health recently applied the above strategies at the enterprise level with the Henry Ford Health System. The Henry Ford Health System is a multi-hospital system headquartered in Detroit, Michigan that handles more than four million annual patient contacts with 100,000+ admitted patients per year.

Rather than trying to handle the entire enterprise at once, Halo broke the Henry Ford Health System into five distinct geographical areas, referred to as neighborhoods. These neighborhoods were aligned by communication patterns between hospitals and clinicians. By breaking things down in this manner, Halo can apply key implementation strategies to any organization, no matter the size. Henry Ford Health System’s goals in deploying the Halo Platform were to:

  • Streamline and expedite critical communications and clinical workflows
  • Unite the acute and ambulatory system and the physician community
  • Improve speed to mobilize critical teams
  • Eliminate non-value-added nursing activity
  • Protect physicians’ time

Before the widespread impact of COVID-19 in March of 2020, Halo was able to fully implement its Clinical Collaboration Platform within three of the five health systems neighborhoods, including the pillar Henry Ford Hospital. Halo Health used a combination of virtual and on-site strategies. Once COVID-19 struck and eliminated the possibility of any on-site implementation work, Halo needed to transition to a full virtual implementation strategy for the remaining two neighborhoods: Wyandotte and Allegiance.

This was about more than just moving on-site visits to video calls. With Halo’s extensive experience implementing our Clinical Collaboration Platform, the Halo team was able to identify and eliminate any potential gaps in service. By applying success factors, Halo was able to finish the clinical design phase of Allegiance’s implementation fully virtually, with the goal of going live in August of 2020. Similar strategies are being implemented at Wyandotte.

Currently, Halo’s Clinical Collaboration Platform is being utilized by more than 30,000 users across all of Henry Ford Health System’s hospital locations and more than 100 ambulatory facilities. Nearly 11 million annual actions focused on accelerating patient care are projected to take place by Henry Ford Health System on the Halo Platform.

In the future, Halo Health will focus on virtual implementation strategies, while remaining flexible with on-site visits where desired.

Learn more about the Halo Platform or request a demo.