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The 6 Most Important Staffing Considerations when Delivering a Successful EMR/Healthcare Data Analytics Implementation


(Tip 5 is vitally IMPORTANT.)

Once a health system decides to make the big change from no EHR to getting one, the challenge on those involved in the transition begins with developing a solid delivery plan.  Whilst the end goal is for a hospital to implement an up to date application, capable of providing useful and meaningful data, all while simultaneously allowing the hospital to run efficiently – getting to that point you need the right staff in place to make it happen.

Below are the 6 most important tips on staffing for any health system considering a major new EMR, data analytics implementation, or upgrade.

1.Create Your Leadership Team

The first order of business is to create a responsible governing or steering committee to represent the corporate goals and give a clear direction to the project.  This should be filled with key hospital personnel, industry experts, and senior delivery management (CIO or Director of Applications).  Essentially, the group will have most (if not all) the people that have a strong, vested interest in the success of the project.  Where this group is short an appropriate member, it is critical to recruit them prior to launch of the project.  Incomplete steering committees can have a disastrous effect on the overall project’s likelihood of successful completion.

2.Recruit Your Best Staffing Supplier

Great technical and clinical staff set the scene for excellent implementations.  A hospital or health system in the beginning stages of planning a new EHR, or a major upgrade needs to know who to go to, as it is extremely unlikely they will possess all the talent needed to complete the project.  Consider reaching out to an experienced specialist staffing, or consulting firm with several complete, successful implementations under their belt.  Look for companies that can demonstrate working with a wide variety of both big and small projects, who have previously assisted organizations with similar environments (university, state, prison, commercial, religious, not –for-profit, children’s, or federal hospital).  A firm that has experience in various areas will: better understand the needs of your upcoming project; be able to approximate how much the implementation will cost; know the probable duration; advise you on the likely staffing numbers; point out any areas of expected difficulty; be able to keep your costs to a minimum; meet your IT staffing needs as they arise; and will comprehend the exact type of staff and level of certification you will need.

3.Staff Retention and Understanding Your Competition

Depending on your location, it is crucial to understand your competitive position over other health systems currently hiring for similar healthcare IT roles.  Compensation will always be a topic of discussion when it comes to either FTE’s, Consultants, or Contractors.  Therefore, it is important to find out if your hospital IT department are above, or at market rates.  If you are below market averages, you will need to address this at an early stage, or risk completing the project with high staff turnover; increased loss of local, retained knowledge; and most likely, inferior quality staff.  A well-organized agency will either have this competitive market information to hand, or be able to produce it rapidly generally, at no cost.

4.Keep Your Talent

At different stages of your implementation you will be able to keep all your staff busy, and running along harmoniously.  This can become a challenge if two or more people cannot meet eye to eye on certain aspects of the project.  This tends to happen when one project manager was hired to lead an entire project when in reality, the project should have been two separate projects being led by two different managers.  Your selected staffing/consulting firm will allow you to understand this challenge, and can advise you on how to effectively meet your greater goal.   Providing innovative, and creative solutions on how enable smooth running of the project, along with how to retain your top consultants and FTE talent is part and parcel of what a great agency offer in today’s healthcare IT market.

5.What Happens If You Underestimate The Cost?

One of the worst things to happen to a project is to be underfunded.  Very large EMR software companies habitually underestimate the true cost of implementing their own software.  Seek the independent advice of your staffing provider.  They will have real experience in successful EMR and data analytics delivery, and you will be able to get a far more accurate idea of the full implementation cost.  This can be an enormous sticking point.  However, it is better not to attempt the project, than abandon it half way, or for the hospital to run into significant financial difficulty.  Organizations that fail to heed this advice frequently end up in a serious pickle.  They are left with unimplemented software and/or seeking another solution through either bankruptcy, or aggressively looking for a merger or partnership to bail them out.  If the true cost is more than your hospital can stomach, it is financially prudent to either not go ahead or look for a partner or merger when you are fiscally stable, than to do so in the midst of a fire sale.

If the hospital is able to re-start the project at a later stage, they do so with a diminished reputation.   The best Consultants will avoid such projects, exacerbating the problem, and increasing the probability of additional time and monetary overruns.  Some clients will re-start project 2, 3 even 4 times.  Just imagine how enthusiastic healthcare IT specialists are to work on such projects.

6.Knowledge Transfer and Ongoing Costs

Furthermore, a successful implementation is not the end of it.  You now have several temporary members of staff who have completed their tasks.  Make sure you have a reliable knowledge transfer program, and that your system is well documented.   Once these experts are dismissed, it is important to have a backup plan to ensure smooth operation and what to do should the need for a specialist arise.  A newly implemented EHR is seldom completely optimized.   Continuous upgrades, enhancements, and optimizations will be necessary post go-live, otherwise you will find yourself with a very expensive electronic filing cabinet.  Budget accordingly for these support, performance, and upgrade issues.  Work out how you will retain and maintain the interest of your star-employees, and consider an outsourced option for high level 24/7 support and optimization.  That way you will be able to run a successful EHR system for many years to come.


For further information, please contact Cathy Spence; a leader in sensible advice for hospital IT departments for over 12 years.

Cathy currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer at Global Healthcare IT, Inc. and can be contacted at: or 562-508-4040


Article written and edited by Michael Williams, CEO, Global Healthcare IT, Inc.


Strategic Implementation