Setting an EMR Activation Date

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Setting an EMR Activation Date
December 6, 2019

What Should You Consider?

An EMR project is a significant enterprise for any hospital—perhaps one of the largest projects a hospital will undertake. One of the “simplest” steps of the process, setting an EMR activation date, can be harder than it sounds. Before you set your date, consider the impact if you don’t hit the mark.

An Activation Date Matters

Setting a date is imperative for the obvious reason: you need a target to drive toward. But what affects the activation date? Multiple factors. For instance:

  • >You must shut down an existing system at a certain time in accordance with support or contractual dates
  • >A new implementation has a daily cost—the sooner the activation, the better (and less expensive)
  • >Commitments made by executive staff to the Board, the community, or other stakeholders
  • >Contractual obligations with the vendor
  • >A rush to recognize the savings or benefits of the new system

 There’s No Going Back

While no one can argue the importance of setting a date, Atlanticon cautions against publicizing it too early. Accurately setting an EMR activation date early in the project is like trying to hit a bullseye in the dark. Large EMR projects have an enormous level of variability that can postpone the activation date. Unexpected team member changes, faulty code, errors in design or build, unexpected system issues, delays in hardware readiness, slow decision making, and interface issues are just some of the factors that can derail a project.

Once your executive team publishes a date to the user community, it becomes very difficult to change that date. Changed dates can give the impression that the project wasn’t managed properly, the vendor wasn’t delivering successfully, or the system isn’t safe. The real reason may be none of the above. But the fear that a delay will be perceived incorrectly is sometimes enough to push a project forward when a delay may have been in everyone’s best interest.

Choose the Right Words

There is a reasonable way to approach this. We recommend that you select your EMR activation date based on data from the project plan. Once that date is selected, it should not be published to anyone outside the immediate project team. The early announcement should be general, such as, “The new system will be ready for use in the first half of 2020.”

When is it safe to pick a specific date and actually put a stake in the ground?

Atlanticon recommends that you announce an exact date at the completion of Integration Testing Round 1.

Only then can you ensure that the design is solid, the build was successful, and the system functions smoothly as a whole!

You will have at least one more round to work through any remaining issues. With this strategy, you’ll have a fairly strong comfort level with the date you announce.

If you have questions about this article or would like to discuss your activation concerns, please contact us at

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