Who is championing HIT for your design project and why is it so important?

By Karen Burns

Attributes of a strong HIT Champion:

  • Strong passion and vision for the role of technology in the safe and efficient delivery of care 
  • Respected leader within the organization that is an advocate and/or a voice for the clinical and operational departments 
  • Understands technology and can educate users and relate the benefits, as well as the challenges, to clinical and operational end users  
  • Focused on ensuring that all key stakeholders have been included in the process
  • Understands the design/build timeline and financial implications of changes to the project

In today’s healthcare design and build world, technology plays a crucial role in influencing design to ensure the goals for the patient and caregiver experience are met.  Increasingly, technology is driving the way healthcare is delivered, and a Healthcare Information Technology (or HIT) Champion is anessential role in any healthcare designbuild project. 

The HIT Champion will make the project run smoother for the entire project team, including the owner, architect, general contractor, project manager, low voltage engineer, vendor, integrator,and more. They will champion and/or sponsor theHITneeds that are raisedby the design teams, clinicians, caregivers, patients, and families to ensure they are represented on the project, and to align the vision, reduce risks on the project, and help ensure a successful project completion.  

So, who is this HIT Champion? It should be someone who isa respected leader within the organization andadvocates for the use of technology in the delivery of care and the vision of the project. The HIT Championrepresents the end users(from care providers to support staff) holistically and is a voice for advocacy. Most importantly, they see the impact HIT can have on the patient, family, and caregiver experience.  

Often, this role is filled by the Chief Information Officer or the Chief TechnicalOfficer but can be even more powerful if it is filled by a clinical or operational leader. Ultimately,it should be a person whois informed of the organizational goals andunderstands all the complex and everchanging HIT intricacies of the project. This enables the Champion to help address common questions or concerns pertaining to HIT from both the design team and endusers, like, “Can’t Epic/Cerner just do that?” “Isn’t this part of the low-voltage plan?” “Why isn’t everything, including all of our biomedical equipment, wireless?” or “Why don’t we have tablet devices for every clinician?”  

The HIT Champion can be a voice for the end userspeaking to the CIO and supporting leadership to provide feedback on technology, sharing what works and what doesnt. They can provide valuable insight into discussions such as how a digital experience comprised of mobile and strategically located visual displays of advanced care analytics can improve care quality and which vendors are the best fit for the organization. But most importantly, they can help guide conversations around the right HIT functionality and balance what’srequired versus the “nicetohave” versus the “ideal future state.”  

To ensure you have the right HIT Champion, keep these four keys to success in mind:  

  • Dedication from the start: Ensure that the HIT Champion has formally been dedicated to the project’s lifecyclefrom the development of the vision to the start of the project to its completion 
  • Make sure they are informed:The Champion must be included in all leadership meetings, visioning sessions, and discussions about the project’s overall goals  
  • Enable collaboration: Build a team of clinical and operational end users around the Champion to support them and advise them and see the project’s vision to completion  
  • Encourage dynamic tension: The Champion should challenge the norm or mindset of “this is what we have always done,” and encourage the team to evaluate scalable and flexible technologies that enable future, improved care models 

Utilizing an HIT Champion on a designbuild project comes with many benefits. They act as a powerful uniting force for the organization, especially when they come from the operational or clinical departments and are able to create consensus and buy-in for the chosen technology. They increase engagement in the project by working with key stakeholders, obtaining input from the end users across all departments, and even the patient community. Plus, there’s an added benefit of increasing adoption rates of new technology and satisfaction while validating the vision and voice of the end users. All of these elements will help the project run smoother and ensure the project success by leveraging HIT to advance and improve patient care.  

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