3 Tricks for a Healthy Approach to Legacy Systems
Across most industries, legacy systems have become a challenge. They lower efficiency and can at times create regulatory concerns. They also create security gaps and lower the quality of service that customers have come to expect within an “always-on,” mobile world.
For hospital CIOs, this raises the inevitable question-- how do they maintain legacy systems, while working towards a smooth transition to an Electronic Health Record (EHR), in a manner which continues to ensure data integrity and network accessibility, as well as the user experience the hospital is used to? Here are three tricks to help answer that question.
Start with the Right State of Mind
All hospital executives, from directors to the CEO, needs to understand that moving to a new EHR doesn’t mean their current systems suddenly cease to provide value. Despite advances in technology, legacy systems continue to provide significant services, supporting specific healthcare processes and maintaining critical records and data.
The IT staff that will be migrating to the new EHR implementation have spent years working with and perfecting legacy systems. It’s often personal to them and to others who have grown accustomed to the current legacy network—this includes the physicians, nurses and clinicians.
Since CIOs are, therefore, hoping to achieve user adoption with the new EHR, the last thing they should do is overlook these emotions, or talk poorly about the current system. Instead, the conversation should focus on how the future EHR will enhance the best qualities of the current legacy system.
Lead through Support
Along the lines of treating legacy systems with respect, the continued line of communication should be directed at the support teams coming in to run the legacy systems so that the hospital IT team can pivot to managing the new EHR implementation.
C-level to Director-level staff should focus on providing constant, visible support of the legacy system by communicating to the entire hospital staff what to expect in the coming months, and the importance of helping and welcoming the new teams of support consultants and analysts. This level of “leading through support” should include:
- Appointing a project manager (PM), or hospital delegate/point-person to manage the relationship and integration between the hospital and incoming legacy support team.
- Ensuring, in a timely manner, the incoming team of legacy support consultants know the information they need to provide to the hospital concerning immunization and medical records so that their staff can start working as soon as they arrive.
- Continuing the focus on proactive access management and legacy support integration by providing a place for them to work, access to the networks and various facilities and materials such as printers, whiteboards and phone lines.
Pre-Planning Prevents Peril
Hospitals can prevent a lot of wasted times and issues by planning and project managing the legacy support steps well before the engagement begins. This includes:
- Ensuing the appointed hospital PM or delegate has the ability to remove roadblocks that may appear.
- Working to communicate vacation schedules between hospital staff and incoming legacy support so that all needed IT staff are there to perform legacy knowledge transfer during the legacy support engagement.
- Documenting as much as possible about the legacy systems, and providing the legacy support teams with those documents before the engagement begins.
Legacy systems can be challenging. But by performing these three key tips, hospitals can go a long way to help a smooth transition and avoid the early headaches of an EHR implementation as it relates to their existing legacy networks and applications.