Computer systems and applications in healthcare have a life cycle that begins with identification of an idea or need, requests for proposals, selection, planning, implementation, optimization, maintenance, support and eventually, replacement or decommissioning. Each phase has multiple associated tasks. For example, implementation involves building, validating, testing, training and activation of a new system. Often, implementation of new systems result in workflow changes and the need for all stakeholders to understand the rationale for such changes as well as obtaining buy in for successful adoption. Policies must be written to address proper use of the system that account for any workflow changes affecting clinicians and support staff, as well as downtime procedures. Tools such as Failure Mode Effects Analysis can be used to anticipate failure points and to put appropriate measures into place to reduce or eliminate the potential for error. Six Sigma tools can also be used to increase efficiency and reduce waste. Project management skills are mandatory to insure that the new information technology or automation system is implemented on time and within budget. Additionally, the pharmacist informaticist must have a basic understanding of value statements, finance and return on investment in order to gain project approval from the executive suite.
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