Having an excellent Project Manager on your team makes the difference between a successful project and one that costs more time, money and effort. Many organizations begin a project with an IT lead or a clinical lead that also perform project manager duties. This limits their effectiveness and availability for their primary areas of expertise. Telehealth touches almost every aspect of clinical care model and almost every area of the IT department. Hospitals looking to successfully implement a Telehealth program need a Project Manager that has specific expertise in the areas of Telehealth.
A Project Manager will provide that central point of contact to coordinate all of the moving parts and keep the project on schedule. Your Project Manager will help you through the entire lifecycle of the project, but it’s important to think about how they can help you navigate the initial planning stages of the project. Follow these steps with a seasoned Project Manager and you will have a solid platform to accomplish your Telehealth goals.
- Define a formal governance process for Telehealth: any time you implement Telehealth people are going to come out of the woodwork looking to get involved. It’s important to funnel requests and ideas through a formal governance process that defines the project, its funding and standards to implement the program.
- Make a formal project plan with clearly defined senior executive sponsorships, clinical business owner, IT business owner, and a Project Manager. This is your roadmap to success, it’s critical to get this right!
- The technology must meet your clinical and business need. Start by knowing what your goals are and build the technology around it. Do not put technology in a room unless there is a clear need.
- Develop a formal project charter: this defines what the project is, the responsible resources, and how things will be completed. Don’t be afraid to spend a lot of time on this. Your project charter will prevent people from going in a direction that is out of scope. Take the time to develop a meaningful charter and then encourage everyone to stick to it.
- Understand what you are implementing i.e technical standards (Hardware & Software), integration requirements, licensure restrictions, cost of ownership: be prepared to fully understand every aspect of these items. If you have this knowledge, your project will be off to a great start.
- Create program specific implementation oversight/steering committees. For example, you might have two committees, one being the overall Telehealth steering committee and another that is project specific, like tele-critical care. Meet on a regular basis to check the status of the project and address/resolve any key risks.
- Ensure all IT functions are represented on your Telehealth project team. Do not forget anyone! Remember Telehealth is complex and involves almost everything, so don’t forget the network folks and your desktop support too. Everyone needs to be involved!
- Conduct a formal project kickoff meeting led by a senior executive sponsor. This meeting is a great place to answer questions people have about why you are implementing Telehealth and what your goals are, and to help ensure everyone supports the project.