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Are You Ready for What is to Come?

If there is anything the Covid-19 #pandemic has taught #laboratories and #hospitals this year is that we need to be ready. Many laboratory #LIS teams were already stretched thin with hospital-wide initiatives, as well as their own laboratory projects. Hospital system clinical analysts were busy with the cadence of #EHR upgrades, as well as aiding #ancillary departments with #interoperability projects.

I have been speaking to several colleagues about what comes next. How can laboratories and hospitals be more #prepared for smaller unexpected needs and major #disruptive events?

Expect the Unexpected (of course, right?)

I was involved in a major EHR implementation many years ago. Because the laboratory was keeping their system, the vendor told the executives at the table that lab did not need to have any IT involvement in the project. The laboratory found out by accident that this project was coming and begged to send someone from the LIS team to the effort. They did not expect to need that resource – but the lab knew it was crucial. Previously, the LIS team not only handled the build of the laboratory orders and results in the LIS, we also handled the build of orders, order sets, and result components in the old system. That flexibility was key to fast and successful implementation of constant lab changes.

The lab resource was assigned to one piece of the EHR build: orders. What the executive planners failed to anticipate is that lab is ADT. It is orders. It is results. It is billing. It is interfacing. The lab analyst quickly became a valuable resource for the WHOLE project.

After the go live, the executives not only were happy to have had the LIS resource on the team, they said they could have used ten of her. The laboratory expected what the executives did not. And that critical anticipation prevented a major disruption to laboratory operations as well as reduced the lab support burden for the hospital IT teams at go live.

Reject the Silo

Major EHR vendors often place analysts into one or two roles in the support of the overall product. At another hospital I worked for, when we lost the orders analyst unexpectedly, the laboratory worried. Who would replace her? We had worked with her exclusively for well over a decade and she knew enough to anticipate laboratory needs when hospital IT discussions around that subject came up.

Her replacement ended up being a nurse who had a good grasp of laboratory. We were lucky to have him join the team. But something interesting happened. Two people began working on laboratory interoperability for orders and results. This meant cross training and redundancy exactly where the lab needed it the most. This was a wise decision and really added value to our interactions and outcomes.

Add to your Toolbox

Hospital and laboratory IT departments generally employ just enough people to keep their anticipated needs met. Rarely is there enough staffing for unexpected disasters or sudden implementation needs. Decisions need to made about where to pivot hospital resources once working on long term initiatives that need to then go on hold, potentially changing go live schedules, often causing delays in implementation projects, and potentially costing money due to timelines not met.

Enter: your trusted consulting firm. Having a team of people at the ready for you in times of unexpected need can be very valuable. You may not even need a consulting partnership currently, but would it not be wise to add one to your #readiness #toolbox? Even if there is not a need currently, what happens when something like novel coronavirus hits? Would you rather expect the unexpected and have partners you can leverage quickly, or wait until an urgent need arises and realize you do not have a contractor at the ready and have to shift valuable resources from already planned projects?

The last hospital I worked with already had a contract in place with JTG Consulting to work on a very large laboratory initiative when Covid-19 hit. When they realized just how much work Covid-19 was going to be, and that it could potentially alter the planned go live of their project, they were able to quickly put a JTG contractor in place to build their interfaces, handle the training, and deal with EHR changes that came quickly as reporting needs changed. They could keep their staff on the larger project, losing no resources at all.

They were ready. Are you?

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