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Healthcare Project Management Best Practices

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Summary: Healthcare organizations must balance multiple projects to stay on top of new technology, regulatory requirements, and supporting the needs of their patients or clients. Like projects in any domain, healthcare projects face scope creep, resource constraints, and risks. Thankfully, there are best practices to manage healthcare projects effectively and keep your organization on track. 

8 Tenets to Support Successful Project Execution

Know Your Industry

Deep understanding of how healthcare operations work is a key way to establish and execute out a successful project. Healthcare projects have unique impacts and risks, including patient safety, regulatory compliance, and variance by environment or payer.

The interdisciplinary nature of most hospitals and clinics also adds layers of consideration during any project. Awareness of these nuances increases the chance of spotting issues beforehand, avoiding them, and delivering meaningful results to the affected group.

 

Effective Communication

You’ve heard the phrase “Communication is key” – because it is true. The importance of clear and open communication among project team members, stakeholders, and external partners cannot be overstated.

Communication keeps everyone on the same page, creates awareness of deadlines as well as assigned actions, and prevents misunderstandings that derail projects. The best way to communicate is to be clear in the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How.

Every discussion, whether in writing or verbal, should lay out context, assign ownership of tasks, establish concrete due dates, and make expectations clear to all.

 

Define the Scope and Stay within it

One of the most dreaded phrases in project management is scope creep. When the project’s original objectives begin to evolve and grow, it causes delays, budget overruns, and a host of other issues. It’s extremely important the project scope be defined clearly during initiation, and that the project stays focused on achieving its specific target.

It’s easy to add an enhancement here or an extra task there, but each change to the project poses risks. Healthcare IT project management should focus on delivery of the initial scope with subsequent objectives addressed after the original project has been completed.

 

Stakeholder Engagement

Healthcare projects impact a wide array of stakeholders, including healthcare providers, administrators, patients, and regulatory bodies. Implementing or changing existing processes can be overwhelming, frustrating, and disruptive, leading to dissatisfaction and reticence to change. By engaging with these stakeholders from the beginning, you gain valuable insight on what is meaningful and provide the opportunity for them to have input.

Simply being included in the process can help these stakeholders feel more positive about the project, unlike when they have a new process or platform dropped on them out of nowhere. Stakeholders are often the people who will be using the new technology or processes the most and will help provide insight to project requirements that could otherwise be missed.

Be clear about project expectations and goals upfront to help manage expectations or concerns.

 

Change Management

Managing change within healthcare projects can be a barrier, especially if an organization does not already have these practices in place or has not undergone major changes before. Prepare the audience for the upcoming changes by showing them the vision, outlining how the project will improve current pain points, and keeping stakeholders involved in the progress.

Consider hosting change management training for leaders within the organization to provide them with the tools to be champions of the change.

 

Risk Management

There is no such thing as a project without risks! Identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks keeps them at bay while also ensuring the nimbleness to address if needed. For healthcare projects, risks include new regulatory changes, technology failures, and clinical uncertainties.

At the beginning of the project, identify any risks, especially those impacting patient safety, the ability to meet regulatory requirements, and completing revenue cycle activity. Any risks with the potential to affect these critical areas should remain top of mind and be monitored aggressively.

 

Resource Allocation

There is no getting around the staffing constraints healthcare organizations are facing. Even with fewer resources, projects still need to be completed. This is where you may need to get creative by looking at ways to balance clinical or administrative workloads with project tasks.

Have team members track time spent on project tasks to see what tasks require the most effort, or where inefficiencies may lie. There may come a point where there are simply not enough hours in a day or enough people to accomplish the necessary steps. Hiring expert consultant resources is a frequently successful way for organizations to fill the gap.

The added benefit is that these healthcare project management experts are experienced in completing projects in these settings and can provide objective viewpoints from outside of the organization’s culture.

 

Utilization of Technology

Leveraging technology gives your project centralized planning, tracking, communication, and collaboration. From mapping out tasks and timelines to gaining visibility on other team member’s progress, project management technology brings insight and structure to any project.

The best project management tool to use in healthcare is one the team finds easy and helpful. Trial products like ClickUp, especially if it can be done before the project begins, to get a feel for how they work.

Here at Tuck, we’re big fans of ClickUp because of its capacity for extensive customization and user-friendly interface that allows us to map, track, and update our project plans easily, all in one spot.

 

Closing

The benefits of project management in healthcare are endless: balance in having a detailed plan, being able to foresee or respond to risks, and staying within the guiderails just to name a few.

Effective project management practices are indispensable in the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, ensuring the delivery of high-quality, patient-centered care amidst complex challenges. By implementing the best practices outlined in this blog post, healthcare organizations can streamline operations, enhance patient outcomes, and drive innovation.

Tuck Consulting Group is well-versed in the unique intricacies of healthcare project management. We will help meet your organization’s needs through our team of expert consultants who have a wealth of experience in all forms of healthcare experience, from clinical to administrative to IT.

Consider us your partner on every step of the way, with best practices tailored to your healthcare project. Discover how Tuck Consulting Group can empower your organization to thrive in an increasingly dynamic healthcare environment by booking a consultation today.

 

 

 

Katy Gaston, DPT, CAPM

Katy Gaston, DPT, CAPM

Healthcare Project Management Consultant

After seven years in clinical practice, Katy pivoted into project management to embrace her passions and natural talents in communication, organization, and execution. She has led several electronic health record (EHR) implementation projects and loves balancing clinical knowledge with the ability to get things done right for the success of her clients. Katy’s specialties include process improvement, operational efficiency, and communication.

Katy has her Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) and has a Bachelors in Exercise Science and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Residing in Minnesota, she is a cat mom, cancer survivor, and three-time marathoner.

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