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EMR Activation Planning –

Activations come at the end of many, many months of hard work. You’re crossing a finish line after a long race.  Is your Activation Planning up to the test?

When I managed my first large project, I’ll admit that I didn’t know the depths of Activation Planning.  Fortunately, the vendor’s PM did.  He guided me in the right direction – and I’m forever grateful. Since that time, I’ve insisted on having a strong handle on this important phase of the project.

Atlanticon’s Top 20

I’m going to list a sampling of the key things Atlanticon follows when involved in Activation Planning. Hopefully, these “top 20” will aid you in your thinking process:

1. Create A Small Activation Planning Team

Include the interface, conversion, and one or two other key team members.  Also, select those that are self-starters and motivated – the ones that are always thinking.

2. Develop An Activation Assumptions Document

This document is critical. It should contain all the major assumptions upon which you will plan the activation. State the date and time of activation, where the Command Center will be located, how long the activation support team will be 24 x 7, when the vendor is to arrive, what issue tracking system will be used, where will the help desk be located. In other words, include as many assumptions as you can. This Assumptions document must then be blessed by your CIO, the Executive Team, and the Vendor.

3. Plan The Activation Steps

Once you have an agreed-upon Assumptions document, you can begin to plan the steps. First, start at a high level.  Make sure that you know when the conversions will begin, when the interfaces need to queue, when the old system is shut down, when the converted data is complete, and when the recovery of current patient data begins.  Then move on to adding more detail.

4. Introduce Other Teams

As you start your outline of key steps, you will slowly start to work through any conflicts. Gradually, introduce other key team members, such as Registration followed by Pharmacy followed by Nursing.

5. Broaden The Steps

As each group is introduced to the planning, they can start to contribute their key steps. Questions they should be asking might include, “When will I readmit the in house patients?”  “When will the allergies be updated and how will I handle the inhouse medication profiles?”  Or, “When should order entry on active orders take place?”

6. Ensure Proper Sequencing

With each addition, you are starting to get a plan that is free of major sequencing issues. The most serious problem that can arise in an activation is when your steps are out of sequence – for example, you don’t want to place medication orders before the allergies and existing meds are entered – you’ll risk missing an interaction or drug alert.

7. Gaining User Satisfaction

Document  the approach you are going to use for gaining user satisfaction.

8. Conduct A Dress Rehearsal

Remember, a Dress Rehearsal is a walkthrough of your activation plan. We like to select key elements from the activation plan.  We then request that the task owners present, discuss, or demonstrate how they will accomplish their task(s). You will be amazed at how one member’s explanation causes others to recognize how that task may impact other tasks. You walk away from this with a team that is much more aware of the big picture.

9. Develop Orientation Packets

Develop clean, descriptive orientation packets for all support team members.  Prepare to conduct meetings with all your support team, informing them of your expectations.

10. Identify Roles Of Your Support Team

Will you have Roamers, a Physician Hit Team, Department Support?  List the roles with a brief explanation of each.

11. Support Schedule

Develop an easy to read schedule of all your support. Make sure that all teams and departments are covered.

12. Managing Food

Don’t forget to assign someone to be in charge of food during the activation. Many places don’t have food available for the night crew. And be sure to insert rules about lunch/dinner scheduling so an entire support team doesn’t disappear at the same time.

13. Users’ Activation Guide

Develop a Users’ Activation Guide – which covers details of the activation at a Dept Managers level. Remember, many departments don’t understand what is involved beyond how they are affected. This is your opportunity to give high level details to all areas of the hospital. Therefore, I suggest conducting a full facility managers meeting.  Present this information, requiring the managers to take the Users’ Activation Guide and communicate it to their department.

14. Change Management / Public Relations Campaign

Make sure to develop a good Change Management and Public Relations campaign. Be sure to cover your internal customers, physicians, physician offices, clinics, executives, patients, and the community. Be aware that your executive team may have strong feelings about how a new system is announced to current patients.

15. Review The Plan

Review your activation plan repeatedly until everyone works through their roles.

16. Project Signoff

Develop your Project Signoff document. This is used at your Go/No-Go meeting.

17. Strong Coordinator

Keep your Activation plan visible and assign a Coordinator who will insure that everyone marches in step.

18. Meeting Schedules

Schedule key meetings throughout the activation, making sure to gain input and feedback from department liaisons, managers, vendors, and executives.

19. Issue Dashboard

Develop a useful dashboard that can be easily maintained throughout the activation. This dashboard should give you a quick glimpse of issue closure and critical status.

20. Hot Topics Communication

Develop a Hot Topics news brief that goes out each day at the same time. It should cover key information that is helpful to the user community. By preparing a binder or special location in each department, you can have a designated spot for all users to retrieve this sort of communication.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, some of these items will help improve the quality of your Go-Live. Atlanticon has helped orchestrate many successful activations, and we would be happy to schedule a one or two day overview of activation planning at your site. We have many checkoff items that help ensure your activation is as smooth as possible. Lastly, if any hospital would like a free copy of HITS, our Hospital Issue Tracking System, contact me at

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