bit like driving a Ferrari to the grocery store. Most HME systems can put your
business in the fast lane toward finding new efficiencies and leveraging new
opportunities, but if you don’t know how to use a software system to its
fullest, you might as well be driving a Model T.
How do providers ensure a successful implementation of a new software system
and maximize their usage of that system once it is up and running?
Create an implementation team. Start by enlisting key internal champions
from various segments of the business to help shape the implementation and
adaptation of the new system by each group. Moreover, this team can help ensure
the system meets each department’s needs.
Focus on training. Ensure staff is prepped for that training to help
smooth the transition and ensure that most of them actually anticipate getting
the new tools. David Siegel, chief operating officer for CPAP and BiPaP
provider Nationwide Medical, advises that providers dedicate sufficient time
and focus on that training to ensure staff make the most of the system.
“That’s a key component,” he says. “Employees are generally reluctant at first
because you’re taking them out of their comfort zone. It’s always going to take
longer than you expect. Very few folks really spend the time to understand how
much time it will take before they are up and running.”
Even veteran employees will have to get used to doing things a new way — even
down to the smallest task. “That was a big thing for us,” Siegel says. “We
struggled somewhat through the training, but we were very fortunate in that we
had an excellent trainer who had tremendous patience. The training took a lot
longer than what we thought it would be. That to me is probably the biggest
aspect that gets overlooked.”
Learn the software’s full potential. The first year into Nationwide
Medical’s adaptation of its system staff were still discovering new
capabilities. But sticking to training and working with their vendor paid off,
Siegel says. “We picked up a lot of valuable practices from various trainers
that probably didn’t even realize they were saying anything that meant
something to us, but we took note of it,” he says.
Enlist data entry help. If you are transitioning to a new system, keep
staff focused on the main jobs at hand and farm out any data entry work.
“You’re current workforce will be working to understand the new software and
get acclimated,” Siegel says. “In the data conversion most of it will happen
electronically, but there are always some sections of it that you will have to
manually bring over. If you’re able to, bring in a few temporary workers and
have them do the data entry.”
Diminish culture shock. Some employees might have trouble adjusting, but
conversely, there are always going to be employees who are more “electronically
gifted” and who will readily adapt to the new system. Take those power users
and turn them into leaders who can help transition their more reticent
coworkers to the new system.
Understand what the system is capable of achieving. The biggest mistake
providers can make is trying to get to their comfort zone with a new system.
Providers must push the envelope. “If you’re going to the right software system
it should be able to do a lot more than you currently do, and more than you
know,” Siegel explains. “The only way you’ll get there is if you challenge your
Establish deadlines and stick to them. Make sure that when various
departments are scheduled to switch over to a new system that they fully commit
and switch over to the new system. Sure there might be a need to delay a
deadline, but at some point it will be clear that it is time for a transition.
“If you let people go back their crutch, even if the new system is better and more
advanced, they’re still going to go back to their safe place if you let them,”
Siegel says. “At some point we said, ‘Here’s the drop-dead deadline. If you
have anything you want to get from the old system into the new system, do it
now. I found forcing that deadline is key to the success of the transition. If
you keep operating that you’re working toward the deadline, you’ll be amazed at
what you can get done.”
Points to take away:
• Create a team that can ensure the new system is implemented
by all departments.
• Get the most from your training, and don’t be afraid to let
training last longer than initially anticipated, if necessary, so that you
learn to use the software to its fullest.
• Hire temporary data entry help to handle the grunt work of
transitioning data so that staff can focus on the more important aspects of the
• Let internal champions help less eager staff through the
process of adapting the new system.
• Set a rock-solid deadline for turning off the old system
and completely switching over to the new system.