Jan 31 2020

How to Plan for Long-Term Network Initiatives

Five steps to laying the groundwork for a successful IT infrastructure.

Every healthcare organization, regardless of size or specialty, needs a strategic plan. Developing one takes time, but it’s critical for organizations to establish and document key priorities as they work to achieve their overall business mission. 

Smart leaders know that IT continues to be crucial for tackling those goals. Despite the constant push to implement solutions faster and more efficiently, network initiatives that support them can’t happen overnight. Thus, strategic IT planning must be a crucial part of any healthcare organization’s long-term vision, enterprise governance and mission success.

Preparing for network initiatives should involve a detailed examination of how technology will fit into each goal, and how changes necessary to enable these tools will impact your information and communications infrastructure.

Consider these five steps when developing a reliable long-term network strategy:

1. Agree on a Strategic Plan

Project planning can help you fully grasp the depth and scope of your organization’s current IT system, as well as the resources you’ll need to identify and implement new solutions. The goals of the planning process, of course, should reflect the overall mission of the organization.

During this phase, it’s critical to get buy-in from key business stakeholders and assemble a diverse team — with representation from IT, clinical and leadership staff — to ensure that all relevant departments and their needs are fully represented. This team should define a business case for the project and make sure their collective expectations are aligned.

2. Identify the Potential Impacts of the Project Up Front

There’s no question that changes to an organization’s current IT systems and infrastructure will have an impact on the business’ everyday operations and workflow. Taking stock of these considerations is particularly crucial in healthcare, where bandwidth and reliability issues can hinder lifesaving care.

That’s why it is important to identify roadblocks in advance and prepare to navigate them without major disruption. Not only will that help reduce risk, it can encourage higher staff adoption, setting up the organization for a successful implementation.

INSIDER EXCLUSIVE: Watch a CDW Bring IT On session for tips to plan your digital transformation roadmap.

3. Develop a Unified Vision of Necessary Functionalities and Features

Next, the planning team should begin developing a set of criteria that can be used for reviewing and selecting the appropriate technology solutions to accomplish the project’s goals. 

This process involves outlining the desired features and functionalities of the network — and whether each of those capabilities is a need or a want. The team should also consider what elements might need to be modified or sacrificed for the sake of budget or other constraints.

4. Conduct a Vendor Evaluation and Selection

As the team contemplates potential solutions, be sure to highlight how each one might impact the network’s overall efficiency. CDW can evaluate which solutions are most feasible for your organization by taking into consideration the need for capacity, security and scalability.

For example, plans to add technologies such as picture archiving and communication systems, Internet of Medical Things devices or DNA sequencers to the network in coming years should be taken into account now. After all, these tools can put a heavy toll on your network; CDW can help address those issues today with an eye on the future.

5. Prepare for Implementation and System Integration

Planning for the actual implementation of network solutions also requires thinking ahead. First, you’ll need to set aside time to develop robust communication and contingency plans and identify additional resources that might be needed during the process.

When it comes to the system build, staff training, and system testing and integration, CDW can assist to ensure the whole process goes smoothly, and can also work with employees to help them better understand system functionality and anticipated changes to daily workflow.

This article is part of HealthTech’s MonITor blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using #WellnessIT.

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