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How to Successfully Prepare and Manage Go-Live Support Resources

Posted by Jessica Hayes on February 3, 2014 at 7:30 AM

Jessica HayesThere are many tasks to coordinate in any electronic billing, scheduling, or health record system implementation. Managing a go-live support team adds an additional layer of complexity.  

This blog suggests five easily implemented tasks that will make preparing and managing a go-live support team easier, more efficient, and more effective. Equipping your support team with the necessary information up front will ensure that it is prepared for a successful go-live and will leave more time for you to focus on other tasks once the go-live has begun.

Below are five suggestions for successfully preparing and managing your support team:

Provide a go-live support packet: This packet is useful for any support resource; however, it is particularly relevant if you have a support team comprised of outside resources who performed workflow validation and build for the site (including individuals internal and external to your organization). Support resources should review the packet prior to go-live and reference it during support.

The go-live support packet should have two sections: one for general information and one for specialty-specific information. General information includes basic information related to your organization that is pertinent for support resources to be aware of during the go-live. This could include a high-level overview of the organization and project, relevant contact information, and how to report issues.

The second section of the go-live support packet should include details relevant to the specialty and site that will be supported. For example, a go-live packet for analysts supporting a cardiology practice will contain the site address, hours of support, and basic details of cardiology-specific build and workflows.

In this packet, I also recommend listing the command center or help desk phone number for easy access at go-live.

Hold a training meeting: Meet with the support resources prior to go-live to review general and site/specialty-specific support information. This meeting can be held on-site or remotely. Topics that should be included in this meeting are:

  • Support expectations – It is helpful for everyone to hear the support expectations simultaneously and in the same manner. If you have external support resources traveling in from out of town, then you may also want to provide a brief overview of travel, time, and expense policies to ensure consistency in time and expense submission. Again, setting expectations up front should lead to greater efficiency and less confusion during the go-live.
  • Issue reporting procedures – Who should report issues and how? What information is expected in each report? Educating the support staff on this information before the go-live begins can save time and help ensure that the appropriate information is submitted when issues are reported during the go-live. This in turn can lead to quicker issue resolution.
  • Specialty/practice specific build and workflows – Include specialty/practice-specific discussions as part of the general meeting or consider splitting the support resources into groups for separate specialty meetings if they will be supporting different areas. Review any system build, workflows, or other topics specific to the specialty/site that will be supported. When possible, give the support team access to a test system for hands-on training prior to go-live.

Keep a master support schedule: The master support schedule should be posted in a centralized location (such as SharePoint). Ensure that all resources have access to this site and check it regularly for updates. Identify one or two people to maintain the schedule.

Designate site leads: Site leads can be particularly helpful when managing multiple sites going live at once. Site leads can serve as the first tier point people for the other analysts and can help manage the dissemination of information to and from the other analysts and end users. Additionally, site leads can be tasked with reporting all issue tickets to the command center/help desk, attending daily status calls and maintaining the support schedule.

Hold a daily status call: This call agenda is to review issues and resolutions that arose that day.  If these calls include end users, consider having only one or two analysts as representatives from each site on the call. These analysts will then disseminate all updates to the rest of the support team. However, if only support staff members are on the call, as many resources as possible should attend so that they can hear the issues that came up and how they were resolved. These calls help maintain communication between management, the support team, and end users. 

One health system that I work with holds a support prep meeting one-to-five days prior to each go-live. These meetings are led by the support, training, and build managers.  Topics covered depend partially on the audience in attendance and are adjusted based on whether external support resources are included in the sessions. Generally, the first part of the session outlines information about the organization, the project, and support expectations. Any specialty-specific system setup and workflows are then reviewed. If time allows, the analysts will practice navigating through the workflows in the system on their own. These sessions, along with the distribution of go-live support packets, the placement of site leads, and the consistent daily calls, has proven very successful as a way of educating and managing a large number of support staff. In addition to employing strong and dedicated analysts, the key to success is to take simple steps to prepare and manage the team.

Go-lives can be very stressful for all parties involved as there is a lot to manage and monitor. It is important to try to find ways to alleviate the stress that you, your end users, and your support staff experience during go-live. Including these five steps in your plans for go-live preparation and management can enhance readiness of support staff and consistency of communication. This will lead to higher end user satisfaction.

It is important to remember that the individuals on your support team - whether it is your employees, consultants, or a mix of both – are representing your organization. Providing all necessary information to this team up front allows for greater overall satisfaction and success at the go-live.

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Topics: go-live support, EHR go-live support tips, EHR go live

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