Upgrading to Meditech Expanse: An Opportunity, Not a Burden

Posted on behalf of Jeff Ford, Director, Client Services
Upgrades are hard. Really hard. They can be time consuming and may require months of meticulous planning and coordination.  They create changes to a perfectly good working environment!  And then there are the meetings—oh, all those meetings!  We all wake up in cold sweats thinking about those Outlook blocks touching back to back to back throughout the entire day.
Attitudes around upgrades are almost universally negative.  They are looked at as a hinderance and addition to already full-time jobs.  This type of negative thinking can fester and create a no-win situation for your upgrade to Expanse.  So, what can an organization and individuals do to turn this around?
It’s time to stop posing upgrades as a chore and instead focus on them as an opportunity!  Upgrading to Expanse is a big, positive change for your organization.  Treat this more as a new implementation instead of an upgrade.  Take a full audit of your system—this is the perfect time to clean up old code, eliminate inefficiencies, and take full advantage of all the tools in your arsenal that may have improved in the years since they were implemented.
You purchased Expanse because of all the great new features and applications it has.  Embrace this chance to learn what you can take advantage of.  Does the new Ordering module allow you to eliminate your third-party LAB orders application?  Are there other outside vendors you can now sunset due to new functionality?  Now is the chance to rethink the workflows of each department.  Find the inefficiencies and address them once and for all.  Every extraneous piece you eliminate gives you a more streamlined system.  This results in more predictable outcomes, more reliable troubleshooting, and long-term cost savings on maintenance and support.
We often write scripts or one-off programs in a panic as an approaching deadline looms over us.  The code for these is usually a mismatch of unique blocks—most likely written by someone who hasn’t been with the hospital for 7 years—combined with lines of script found on Google.  And over the years through specification or screen changes, this code has been added to, commented out, and altered over and over by so many different hands.  It still works, but just barely.  It’s a glass cannon of code held together with Band-Aid after Band-Aid.  A big upgrade like this is the perfect opportunity to rewrite these.  Evaluate if some of these scripts can be eliminated with either a new process or an interface.  If the script is still useful, use a dedicated resource or outsource the rewrite to a professional so you don’t need to worry about it in the future.
Finally, beyond Meditech, this is an opportunity to look at the other systems you have in place.  How many of them have you upgraded since implementation?  Did you ever check the release notes?  Chances are, they’ve improved along the way in methods that you are now able to take advantage of.  For example, integration engines have come a long way since being just hl7 connectors.  Interface engines are incredibly powerful.  They can now move PDFs, connect to web services, process CCDs; the list goes on and on.  Think about all your manual processes and try to envision them as interfaces.  The possibilities and cost savings are endless.
With positive messaging from the start, your upgrade to Expanse can be a win for all departments instead of a hinderance.  The proper execution of the upgrade comes down to the individual pieces all buying in and doing their part.  Starting with the premise of this as an opportunity instead of a burden is going to put you well on your way to success!