Teamwork key to long-term sustainability of health IT systems
Health Information Technology
A new report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality highlights the cumulative experiences of over 100 grantees that implemented major health information technology (IT) projects between 2004 and 2007. The report, Effective Teamwork and Sustainability in Health IT Implementation, reviews grantee experiences related to planning, long-term use, partnerships, vendor relationships, and end-user perceptions a few years after the end of the project period.
This initiative was unique because it supported planning for health IT among rural health care organizations. The most important factors reported to affect sustainability of health IT were the ability to demonstrate benefits from health IT to grantees' organizations, clinician support, and cost-related issues. Grantees reported that most health IT products that were implemented and upgraded during the study continue to be used. However, they reported that in order for health IT projects to be successful, clinician buy-in and support had to be established early in the planning period and sustained during implementation and maintenance phases.
Effective planning, including completing a detailed workflow analysis, implementation plan, and process re-design assessment prior to implementation, were strong markers of long-term viability. Strategic partnerships were another indicator for success. Trusted partners with implementation experience provided practical advice that helped grantees anticipate and overcome common challenges in health IT implementation.
The majority of grantees reported that health IT upgrades were beneficial to the organization and that ongoing investments in health IT infrastructure were warranted. The report includes an organizational readiness checklist to help health professionals identify and mediate obstacles to successful health IT implementation. For more information, please visit http://healthit.ahrq.gov/THQIT.