From the Beginning: A Close Look at the Initial Transition Phase

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Raymond Belles By Raymond Belles 
Director of Consulting and Education, McKesson
Home Health Software Transition Ahead

Major change makes us all feel slightly uneasy, but I find that the more carefully I plan, the better I feel. The same holds true for software implementations, and McKesson’s experience implementing hospice and home health software systems in agencies has shown us that a four-stage transition is the way to go:

  • Phase 1: Assessing operations and planning
  • Phase 2: Preparing the organization
  • Phase 3: Activating the new system
  • Phase 4: Measuring and monitoring operations

There are four components of Phase 1, including defining the team, assessing your current state and understanding what processes will be modified, establishing a communications plan, and reviewing system requirements and planning for infrastructure changes.

To create the processes that will carry your organization through all four phases, your transition team must have strong leadership, diverse skills, and dynamic energy. Look for people with outstanding communications skills and those with a proven ability to lead change. Your team makeup will vary with the size of your organization, but you’ll need individuals who represent the following roles:

  • Project manager
  • Field clinician
  • Non-field clinician (back office)
  • Quality assurance/process improvement
  • Informatics
  • Clinical manager
  • Non-clinical manager

Once your team is in place, you’ll want to examine your current documented clinical process, paying attention to the following workflows: scheduling, physician orders, plans of treatment, certifications and QA processes. The idea is to identify areas that may need to be updated before implementation. You’ll also want to establish baseline metrics, including current productivity (by discipline) and cumulative hours spent weekly on the start-of-care quality assurance process.

Next, hold an all-staff kickoff meeting to introduce the team, give an overview of the new system’s functionality, explain the timeline, talk about the project objectives, and take questions from attendees. Following the initial meeting, you’ll want to establish a regular means of communication (at least weekly) to convey the current status of the project (percent of completion, projected completion date), changes that have led to success, and people who have made a positive contribution to the project.

The final component of Phase 1 is preparing your environment for the new system, including reviewing hardware specifications, reviewing current services maintenance, and archiving historical data.

Managing change is critical to the transition and must be addressed in the overall plan. The very nature of a home health software transition, with its far-reaching impacts to the business, makes change management in this project much more important. Taking a proactive stance will help prevent serious problems as the project progresses.

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