EHR projects often touch every facet of a healthcare organization and therefore involve multiple teams, resources, software providers, and support desks. Working with Epic EHR systems and analytics is no exception. While most teams adhere to the foundational pillars of project coordination (expectation-setting, accountability, and communication), the dynamics and communication styles become more complex and nuanced as the number of teams increase. Here we’ll discuss the keys to navigating multi-team communication and processes for more successful healthcare technology projects.
Understand how, and from whom, to request resources.
Have you ever felt frustrated when someone didn’t follow your team process and (for example) called directly to prioritize their work ahead of others’? In the context of obtaining resources from other teams, you could also be doing this unintentionally if you don’t understand another team’s process for resource allocation requests. Similarly, not understanding what level of leadership needs to be involved with a team’s resource allocation can cause issues in the middle of a project if the resources weren’t appropriately assigned.
To avoid unnecessary frustration or delays, investigate the appropriate method of resource allocation for each team:Is it as simple as entering a request in a ticketing system?
Regardless of the team’s process, it is important to ensure the right level of leadership is involved from each team for awareness, buy-in, and the opportunity to give direction or input.
Additionally, ask questions about each team’s turn-around time and lead-time expectations. Some team skillsets are in high demand and therefore have limited resources to address their queue of projects. These teams may have a lead-time requirement, or a turn-around time expectation before they will be able to address a request.
When planning out a project, especially for those with multiple teams involved, aligning resources and timelines on each of the required teams can be a daunting task, but following each team’s processes to get resources assigned will allow for a more firm commitment to your project, and increase its probability of success.
Understand the purpose, team responsibilities, and most importantly, the common goal.
Whether you utilize a RACI chart or another method, it’s essential to understand from each team representative what role each resource will play. If there is more than one resource assigned from a certain team, be sure to understand how they will be dividing the responsibilities (or if there is a primary/secondary arrangement) so that you know who to hold accountable for which piece of the work.
The project team as a whole should be working toward a common goal that everyone has at the forefront. Articulating each team’s role and responsibilities for the larger group is important to creating a cross-team understanding of the common goal, helps paint the picture of how the project will unfold, which teams may have to work directly together, what the timeline will look like, and who will be on point with each step.
Whether a project is short or long, a project team is formed until that common goal is met. And most likely, team members will work with one another again on future projects. When team members have that common goal and the accompanied project team rapport, it facilitates cross-team collaboration, and potential innovation, that will only benefit your organization.
Foster professional rapport between teams.
The importance of building rapport between project team members cannot be stressed enough. When there is rapport between team members, they are more likely to voice questions or concerns, as well as collaborate on ideas.
While you may shudder at the idea of fostering team rapport through ice breakers or get-to-know-you sessions, there are also logistical ways that will help you foster these team dynamics:Stress the importance of transparency
EHR integrations, cross-platform analytics, and Epic workflow projects are dominant on our current schedules. The impact of these initiatives on the delivery of healthcare is paramount. We owe it to our fellow team members, organizations, and patients to set up clear multi-team communication processes that result in a timely and successful project.