Editor’s Note: The full version of Dr. Blackman’s blog post on health IT upgrades and replacements appeared Dec. 4, 2014, on Becker’s IT & CIO Review website.

Health care is heading into a cycle during which hundreds, if not thousands, of provider organizations will replace or significantly upgrade their health care information technology systems. Providers can take three steps to make either transition as smooth and successful as possible.

Step 1: Anticipate your future information needs

Like buying a new house, in which you anticipate your space needs for the next decade or two, providers must do the same with their health IT systems. Will the system be able to collect, analyze and report the data I need as a health care provider to be successful clinically and financially two years from now, three years from now, six years from now, 10 years from now?

Step 2: Focus on usability of upgrade or replacement

Providers looking to upgrade or replace their health IT system must focus on usability. Is the upgrade easier to use? Is it faster? Is it more intuitive? If an upgrade or replacement makes your health IT system easier to use, more people are going to use it, and that will produce more actionable information to improve the health of patients and the business health of the organization.

Step 3: Budget for training after the go-live

Providers must budget time and money for ongoing training that loops in feedback from users on how to improve the experience and system capabilities. Only in that way will a provider optimize the performance of its health IT upgrade or replacement without needing to buy additional features, hire additional staff or wait for the next version of the system to come out.

By taking these three steps, health care provider organizations can make their health IT system upgrade or replacement experience pleasant and successful for their staffs and, ultimately, for patients.

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About the author

Michael Blackman, M.D., is chief medical officer at McKesson.

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