Watson Community Hospital (WCH) has developed one of the most elaborate plans to guide the electronic hearth record transition process. The plan has clear guidelines on how the project objectives and system requirements shall be formulated, refined and used in the selection of the technology vendor. The clarity of the process is important, but the strongest point in this plan is its participatory nature. The plan recognizes the importance of WCH staff and management contributions. Consequently, it has created a space for them to offer advises that could be used in the implementation of the project. Key departments have representatives in the project steering committee. They include providers, clinicians, medical assistants and nurses. The inclusion of the staff in the committee is appropriate because they are the people who interact with the system on a daily basis. Therefore, they have superior understanding of the systems flaws and capabilities. To further ensure that the committee does make unilateral decisions, the plan has provided guidelines for discussions and meetings with practitioners not included in the committee. It has tasked the committee with the responsibility of collecting the opinions from practitioners about the project with a view of using them in the implementation process. This provision is important because it enable stakeholders to own and have a shared vision for the project. It also minimizes the resistance that is associated with implementation of new technologies. Although the participation is very important elements of project planning process, it should be balanced with project realities. The purpose of establishing the steering committee was to ensure that the EHR transition process is stakeholder's driven. For this reason, the committee was given immense influence on key issues relating to the process. It is the view of this paper that the committee is not competent enough to execute some of the technical tasks given to it. The committee is supposed to evaluate technology vendors based on their criteria developed by its members. Given that majority of its members have no or little background in IT; it would be improper for these members to evaluate vendors on technical requirements of the projects. Perhaps the committee could have been given the mandate of defining the system requirements and leaving the evaluation process to technical team comprising of IT staff, financial and legal experts. A medical assistant may not be competent enough to give objective score on an issue regarding interoperability, costs, and legal requirements. The other alternative was to organize for training of committee members. According to Power, Desouza & Bonifazi (2006), training of the evaluation committee enables them to have common understanding of the selection criteria and scoring system. The decision on whether to stay with one vendor for both primary care and hospital depends on a number of factors. These factors include costs, compatibility and technical abilities of the vendor. The leadership team should assess whether having a single vendor cost less or more than having multiple vendors. Considering that compatibility is a key requirement, the team should also evaluate whether the technology supplied by the multiple vendors are compatible. Single vendors would most likely provide one compatible technology. Again, the team should check whether the vendor has the technical capacity to implement the EHR technology in both the hospital and primary care setting. Having multiple vendors implementing EHR project maybe faster but might result into compatibility problems.
Power, M. J., Desouza, K. C., & Bonifazi, C. (2006). The outsourcing handbook: How to implement a successful outsourcing process. London: Kogan Page.