Posted on behalf of Jeff Ford, Director, Services

In Healthcare, IT initiatives are always happening. New imaging software, an admissions application, a community integration initiative, the list of projects never ends. However, in recent months priorities have shifted. Hospitals are putting many projects on hold as the focus is on their COVID response. In this blog, I’m going to discuss some tips to have what I’m going to term a “productive pause.”

No matter what phase of the project you were in at the time of pausing, you want to keep that progress. Having to completely restart means lost time, money, and duplicated efforts. It will also lead to frustration, hurting your chances for a successful project outcome.  So, what can you do to ensure your progress is kept and you can hit the ground running when it’s time to restart?

  1. Assign ownership. Task one team member with the responsibility of keeping track of the project. This person will be charged with communicating with the vendor and internal stakeholders. They will take inventory on where the project is at the time it’s put on hold and oversee the restart initiative. As we will get to next, this will not be a resource intensive position, but you will want someone who is organized and has a proven ability of garnering support.
  2. Don’t completely put it out of sight or mind. Yes, your priorities have changed, but paused projects still need a limited amount of time spent on them. I recommend bi-weekly contact with your vendor or project team. This can be as simple as an email to confirm the project status and next steps when the reengagement comes. Just enough to make sure the project doesn’t fall off anyone’s plate.
  3. Be sure you’re not spending future dollars, know your vendor rules. Here are the questions you’ll want your project owner to ask your vendor:
    • Does your vendor have a policy against project holds?
    • Will they charge you to put the project on hold?
    • Are there reengagement fees?
    • Are there minimum requirements you can put hit to keep the project from going to “hold” status?
    • When you reengage, will you have to wait for newly assigned resources?

Knowing the answers to the above questions will help your healthcare system prioritize what projects can be safely put on hold and what order they should be reengaged in.

Finally, there’s always the option to not put the project on hold in the first place.  If the project is on hold for COVID response due to resource issues and not financial reasons, you could look to your vendor to take on the project work for you.  Many vendors offer services around their software and can push your project forward for a fee.  This will allow you to handle the pressing COVID situation while checking another IT project off your list.