As the industry continues to shift from fee-for-service to value-based payment, it is becoming more important for practices to integrate new health information technology (HIT) capabilities in order to stay relevant. Health information technology projects are high-risk endeavors. Among the many reasons these types of projects fail are lack of leadership, lack of accountability and insufficient communication. I believe that many of these issues can be overcome by having the practice manager step into a project leadership role. Unfortunately, I have seen very well-intentioned teams with highly-detailed project plans fail due to a lack of leadership or buy-in within the clinic.
In my role today, I go through countless steps to ensure the practice manager is on-board with the HIT project and its associated implementation plan. Here are three reasons why:
- Knowledge. Practice managers hold the key to a successful launch of any new product or service because they have their fingers on the pulse of the clinic. They know the people and they know the processes. If the practice manager doesn’t see the value, the product or service will never be fully integrated into the practice.
- Influence. If the practice manager has bought into the project, he or she is much more likely to work to gain buy-in from other staff and follow the project through to completion. By engaging with the practice manager during the decision-making process, it is much easier to gain agreement on the overall approach and the desired outcomes of the project.
- Investment. By engaging practice managers early in the process and empowering them with the title of “project lead” it creates a sense of ownership and pride related to the project’s success.
Unfortunately, many projects are thrust upon practice managers without their input, and as a result they are less likely to be carried out as planned. Very few HIT projects are successful using a top-down approach because even though the physician owner may be the ultimate decision-maker, he or she is not typically involved in the implementation process.
Some practice managers may have limited experience leading HIT projects so it is important to provide them with tools and/or knowledge related to the project, while still allowing them the autonomy to work with their team to obtain buy-in and execute the project. I challenge you to empower your practice manager to get involved early and lead your health information technology projects to successful completion.