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Ben Blake

Five Pitfalls to Avoid in Your NextGen 5.9/8.4 EHR Upgrade | Part 1

October 23, 2017

Medical Technology 3 Minute Read

#1: Believing Execution is More Important Than Strategy or Vice Versa

Ok. It’s likely you’ve seen or heard dozens of quotes from “thought leaders” that opine about a widely accepted idea that pits planning (strategy) against execution. People in business often feel marginalized into believing one is more of a priority than the other. There’s a great read in the Harvard Business Review dissecting this topic in an effort to find the truth in prioritizing strategy and execution.

Whether you are a Practice Administrator, Clinical Leader, or Billing Manager, the fact is both are important. They are inherently intertwined… especially with respect to upgrading your NextGen EHR software. Properly planning your upgrade is critical to ensuring the focus of your tactical execution. Sun Tsu (Art of War) put it this way, “strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

So what does proper planning mean with respect to your enterprise software upgrade? Here are 9 words to plan by:

  1. Team. Make sure you have the necessary stakeholders in your planning session.

  2. Lead. The leader needs to facilitate agreement among stakeholders on the specific roles of each person (owner or contributor).

  3. Prioritize. Collaboratively determine the top 3 priority outcomes for the project. The leader owns the final say if there is unresolvable conflict on what’s more important. A reminder from Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, “if you have more than three priorities, you have no priorities”.

  4. Milestone. Ensure tasks are cataloged as milestones. This means they appear in order, include a completion date, and they include an owner.

  5. Measure. Make sure what must be measured has a KPI. The word ‘must’ means a critical KPI. A team can easily become paralyzed by data volume. A reminder that KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator relative to the project. Obviously one of them is the go-live date. Another might be something like 100% participation from users with respect to their checklist for preparedness. You know your practice. Just focus the KPIs around the top priorities which most often need to focus on themes like communication, participation, and data integrity.

  6. Socialize. Post some version of the project plan in a team-public area like the break room to create active awareness for the entire organization. You can even make it fun with a calendar count down and Starbucks gift cards for special contributions.

  7. Communicate. Communicate and over-communicate progress and opportunity for questions with the entire organization in your routine weekly/daily staff meetings. The more public you make the project, the more accountability in execution and the higher probability of success for your project.

  8. Help. Recognize if/when you need help from a third party. If the upgrade begins to overwhelm the team by compromising the day-to-day of caring for patients, it’s time to get help. Too often the cost of doing nothing is severely higher than the investment in third party help.

  9. Celebrate. Everyone likes food. Celebrate your success with a team lunch. Consider doing it offsite to truly celebrate without the distractions of the office. While this may not be possible for your practice, consider catering in and taking a moment to gather everyone for a few moments to recognize special contributions and thank everyone for being a part of the success.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s installment of Five Pitfalls to Avoid in Your NextGen 5.9/8.4 EHR Upgrade… #2: Getting Your Sandbox Playtime Wrong.


With more than 20 years of technology and technology sales experience, Michael has led Systeem’s operations since day one, connecting our clients with technology, processes and ideas that make their lives easier and happier.

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