Jan 04 2022

5 Questions to Ask for Effective Healthcare IT Change Management

Everyone knows what IT change management is, but few are happy with the process, as it often is a lot of work that doesn’t seem to deliver any visible benefits. Making change management useful is all about focusing on the “why.”

1. Why Do Change Management?

In healthcare environments, IT teams are ultrasensitive to keeping systems available and reliable, and that’s the primary reason to have CM: to reduce the risk caused by change. 

But CM has three other benefits: standardization, which helps improve efficiency and effectiveness of teams; documentation, which helps create a more consistent and supportable IT environment; and communication, which reduces the impact of changes by keeping everyone informed. 

2. What Do Most Healthcare Organizations Get Wrong About CM?

It’s easy to focus on process: meetings, forms, approvals and maintenance windows. But having a strictly defined process doesn’t directly deliver benefits of CM. Worse, heavyweight processes create incentives for IT to avoid CM, which increases the risk of problems. 

CM must not be an administrative function. Your CM system designers should be the IT technical staff, not a manager fresh out of an IT Infrastructure Library training class.

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3. Where Should IT Focus to Get the Most Out of CM?

When changes are clearly communicated and documented, things are less likely to fall through the cracks. Security, operations and even finance teams all have vested interests in knowing what changes are happening.

A change driven by a particular IT group might also affect security (firewalls, load balancers, IPS), networks (routing, address management), operations (backups, disaster recovery plans) and even finance, especially in a cloud-first, pay-per-use model. Making communication and documentation between groups a priority in CM delivers the biggest benefits.

4. What’s the Hardest Part of CM?

Creating a database or inventory of all your services, applications, databases, servers and networks, and how they all fit together, is especially difficult in healthcare because hospitals are full of legacy systems. 

MORE FROM HEALTHTECH: Learn how healthcare organizations can safeguard IT assets.

The configuration management database can’t be built overnight and takes energy and resources to update. But when a CMDB is accurate and well maintained, the payoff is enormous because many tasks and consistency checks can be automated, reducing the chance that human error will cause a service interruption.

5. What Should Teams Know to Build an Effective CM System?

Different types of changes should have different CM processes. Don’t try to make a round peg fit in a square hole: Many configuration “changes” don’t need to be approved; they just need to be documented and communicated after the fact. 

Sylverarts, Meilun (icons); CasarsaGuru (server); Cecilie_Arcurs (doctor)

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