Culbert recently engaged with a client who requested assistance to successfully accomplish their Allscripts PM V 14 upgrade. It was a great opportunity for them to assess current practices and incorporate optimization of workflows, policies and procedures to ensure consistency across their large, multidisciplinary organization.
As with any project, there were lessons learned along the way revolving around preparation, planning and execution. Some of those learnings included:
- Preparation – establish your PM support team
Who will assist in understanding the new functionality and its impact on your system set up and current workflows? This team needs to be comprised of members across all departments in your organization. IT may lead, but you will benefit most by including Finance and Operations. Reach out to Finance to establish those that are responsible for standard reporting. Work with operations managers, supervisors and front end users to identify the potential impacts on day-to-day activities. Also, make sure your Allscripts application support is in place when discussions regarding upgrade begin. In our most recent experience, the Practice Management application support was not identified early enough and was inconsistent throughout the implementation process. Having a single source to work with would have significantly streamlined things.
- Planning – establish your upgrade database
Establish your own plan regarding implementation and testing. Don’t rely solely on the vendor. In addition, know the database where you want your testing to take place. During our implementation, the decision between TEST and TRAIN databases was a back and forth issue for some time. Ultimately, the decision to load the upgraded version into TEST was made by IT and Allscripts agreed to update the database with a current copy of PROD. This was helpful in training users, and duplicating some automated processes. Unfortunately, there were few options available to allow complete testing of interfaces. Based on your organization’s number and complexity of interfaces, be prepared to address issues at go-live that could not be properly tested.
- Testing – create your testing plan
Have a testing plan and issues-tracking process ready for your team to implement as soon as your testing environment is established. Since Allscripts does not provide, nor recommend any formalized testing plan, be as thorough and specific as possible when identifying items to be tested and re-tested and how issues will be documented and quantified. Ask your PM resource for a list of previously-identified issues and bugs from the version being implemented and ensure those that impact your organization are included in the testing plan.
- Execution – go-live date
Choose a go-live date that works for your organization. Give yourself enough time, based on your available resources, to completely test all functionality and document current issues. Ensure your issues list establishes a “no go” threshold that would push your go-live date until resolved or that the work-arounds provided are acceptable to your organization. Remember to assess the workflow, manpower and financial implications of any work-around, and establish a reasonable time frame for resolution.
Lastly, if you are performing both EHR and PM upgrades concurrently, as this organization did, ensure that your voice on the upgrade team is heard. Underscore your importance in the process and insist on specific follow up dates and people responsible for resolution and assistance.