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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Information Technology

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How do we set-up a project team?

As part of the planning process for health IT implementation, an organization should consider the set-up of the project team.  The size and composition of the project team will vary depending on the scope of the implementation.  A project manager and at least one physician champion should be selected early once the decision to implement a health information system has been made.  Ideally, the project manager should be well-versed in clinical system implementation and have strong management and organizational skills to keep the project on task and on budget.  This person should be given the authority to acquire resources as needed to accomplish the goals of the project and to serve as the primary contact person.  A physician champion should also be chosen in the initial planning phase to provide a clinical perspective and to serve as a liaison to other clinicians during the implementation process.

Other team members will need to be selected based on the needs of the project.  For example, a small ambulatory practice will likely need members of the project team from certain functional areas such as nursing, registration, billing, and medical records.  However, a critical access hospital will probably require members from other areas, including allied health services, laboratory and radiology services, in addition to the ones identified above.  If an organization has dedicated IT staff, they should be included on the team as well.

An assessment of current personnel can help determine what expertise and resources already exist and whether new staff or consultants will be necessary to successfully implement the new health information system.  Depending on the size of the implementation, each functional area may require multiple members to cover different responsibilities, including training and EHR building, or one person to cover all of them.  In addition, the organization should consider having dedicated technical assistance staff on the team to cover day-to-day issues that arise post-implementation.

There is no "one-size-fits-all" approach to determining resources.  However, many IT projects have failed due to inappropriate staffing.  Many organizations also undertake IT projects with the notion that the current staff can continue to perform their clinical functions and assume the additional responsibilities associated with a new system implementation.  Numerous IT projects have been significantly delayed or failed on account of this approach.

Once an assessment of the in-house expertise is completed, an organization may decide that it needs to hire one or more consultants due to gaps in current knowledge and skills.  The services of a consultant can be procured by going to a reputable consulting firm or by engaging with a consultant based on a referral.  Regardless of the approach used, it is important that the consultant transfers the necessary knowledge of the system to the resident IT team.  In defining the terms of the relationship between client and consultant, a contract should be drafted that defines the scope of work, the deliverables and associated timelines.

Resources on building a project team:

Resources on conducting a skills assessment:

Developed by the Health Resources and Services Administration as a resource for health centers and other safety net and ambulatory care providers who are seeking to implement health IT.
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