Are you prepared for a legacy support engagement?
It’s a scary question for many hospital CIOs to answer. Are we ready for the legacy support team, who may already be on their way, to run our legacy systems? By the time hospital leaders ask themselves this question, it’s often too late. By then, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent, and the need for the in-house IT teams to pivot from running the legacy systems to focusing exclusively on implementing the new Electronic Healthcare Record (EHR) becomes painfully apparent.
The last thing a hospital needs is a poor transfer of services from their IT staff to the legacy support team. That would result in the inability for the hospital IT staff to focus on learning the new EHR, and understanding how that EHR can best interface with the hospital’s workflows. Even worse, a poor transition between these two teams could result in a patient or clinical issue. However, the transition to a legacy support provider can go smoothly if some basic work is conducted up front to prepare for the engagement.
Focus on Access Management
One of the most commonly overlooked issues during the transfer of knowledge between these two teams often starts the day the engagement begins. Hospitals forget to provide legacy support consultants with information about the immunization and medical documentation needed to gain physical hospital access. Moreover, they also often forget to do the paperwork required to create security badges or to set up network access for the new teams. This can end in a hurry-up-and-wait situation where the support teams arrive, but can’t begin their engagement, wasting time and money every minute they are idle.
To fix this, hospitals should think of legacy support analysts as new employees, and make advance arrangements for onboarding, including:
- Filling out all personnel forms ahead of time
- Providing incoming legacy teams information about facility access requirements
- Providing a fully equipped workspace
- Providing network connectivity and remote access
- Providing physical security access to the location(s), typically in the form of ID badges
Security must also be considered at this point. There will be a temptation to use default or generic usernames and passwords in providing system access to simplify the onboarding process. But this represents a major security weakness. Access privileges should be closely controlled on the basis of least-privilege. Healthcare providers often have multiple facilities, each with its own access requirements. Processes for approval at each site should be mapped out in advance so that workers can be added to directories, privileges assigned, and credentials made available for disparate systems that might have different requirements.
The workspace for legacy support teams should likewise be set up in advance so that team members can start working immediately upon arrival. In addition to hardware, adequate telecommunications and internet access, teams will need basic office furniture and supplies. Legacy support teams will not be working in a vacuum, so the workspace should be conducive to the knowledge transfer between the analysts and hospital IT staff. Legacy support teams will also need documentation and other information for the systems they will be interfacing with during their engagement. Full discovery, audits and documentation should be done in advance to identify the scope of the task so that work can begin immediately.
It can be scary for hospital CIOs to determine how ready they are to integrate a large legacy support team. But they don’t have to lose sleep over it if they plan ahead and establish a good line of communication with the analysts before the engagement. That begins with access management, a critical and often overlooked first step.