5 Steps to Successful Home Health Software Implementation

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Karen Utterback By Karen Utterback 
Vice President, Strategy, McKesson
5 Steps to Successful Home Health Software Implementation

Regardless of whether your agency is implementing McKesson Homecare™, McKesson Hospice™ or some other home health software system, the five keys to success remain constant.

According to Starlene Kane, a McKesson implementation manager, those keys are:

  1. Planning on the Front End
  2. Picking the Right Team
  3. Identifying Goals, Constraints and Risks
  4. Identifying Dependencies/Predecessors
  5. Managing and Controlling the Project

To help ensure success, Kane stresses the importance of choosing the right project manager, whether internally or working with a consultant. Besides the obvious project oversight and implementation duties, the project manager’s No. 1 job is to sell the vision of the project – its need and its benefits – to managers and to staff.

Let’s examine each of Kane’s points in depth.

Planning on the Front End. In addition to choosing the project manager, planning must include an implementation schedule and an outline of the goals and constraints of the project. But a project manager must be nimble, adapting or changing the plan in response to real-world conditions and expectations. Implementing the same software in two agencies will require different plans because no two agencies nor implementations will be alike.

Picking the Right Team. Team members should have different roles within the organization (i.e. not all managers) so various perspectives are heard. Some should have specific knowledge of the project and its scope; however, enthusiasm can make up for experience in many instances. Interview team members to help ensure they have true availability (time) for the project.

Identifying Goals, Constraints and Risks. This step defines the project, uncovers potential stumbling blocks and resets unrealistic expectations. Stakeholder interviews can uncover goals and expectations, as well as competing projects that could have been overlooked. Review contract and regulatory requirements, along with the budget. Prioritize goals and understand challenges. You’ll likely have to negotiate and compromise to create a workable plan.

Identifying Dependencies/Predecessors. A project roadmap will include milestones based upon goals, as well as the intermediary steps required to meet that milestone. Notify in advance those whose contributions are critical to reach the milestone, and build slack in the process wherever possible. The roadmap should help guide the necessary steps for a successful implementation.

Managing and Controlling the Project. Don’t overlook the importance of constant and effective communications. Hold recurring status meetings (at least weekly for one hour) to discuss the project, milestones, critical issues and risks. Keep sponsors and stakeholders in the loop and be prepared to adjust the roadmap as necessary. Stakeholder and sponsor communications should be two way, with the project manager soliciting feedback on the process to uncover and head off any potential challenges.

Finally, enduring significant home health software implementations or upgrades can be stressful for staff, especially if work processes are changing. You should familiarize yourself with the concept of change management and how to help guide staff through the upcoming changes.

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