Change Management Tips for Large-Scale Medical Group Implementations

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Aug 08, 2023

Change Management Tips for Large-Scale Medical Group Implementations

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Written by Misti Janikowski

Category: Change Management - EHR

As Change Management professionals, it is our responsibility to disseminate changes to the larger audiences of our organizations. We work with decision-makers, developers, stakeholders, drivers, and users, and we get to influence the acceptance and adoption of the changes. It is a very rewarding experience and one that, if done right, will provide value to all those you serve.


In this article, I share a few tips for introducing a system change, and specifically, a medical record implementation at a large medical group. The medical group I’ve used here for demonstration purposes is part of an organization with multiple hospitals, multiple outpatient departments, a Federally Qualified Health Center, a behavioral health facility, and many medical practice offices. Due to the size of the organization, the implementation of the medical record system for this client was delivered over several years in staggered waves, and medical practice offices were part of every wave of go-lives.


A benefit to bringing a new medical record system up in a staggered approach is the process gets easier with each wave. Leadership and the project team continue to learn and make modifications, adapting quickly before the next wave. But, what about the managers at individual medical practices who have no experience with the new system, the implementation plan, or even the language? How do you help them prepare and adapt to the coming changes? There are a few things you can do to level-set the practice managers and help them be successful.

1. Get to know your audience.

As you prepare to help users understand the challenges coming their way, it is important to know who has experience and, more importantly, who does not. The latter are the people who need you the most. Take the time to talk to or survey the practice managers to find out how much they know about the system, the implementation process and players, and the benefits of making the change (addressing the key question on every user’s mind, “What’s in it for me?”). Know that when they ask a question, you need to start your explanation from the beginning.


2. Teach the language.

Before you can begin change management activities in earnest, recognize that you do not all share the same language. You must begin building the foundation of knowledge by defining the terms. When an acronym is commonly used by the experienced team, continue to use it but spell it out. ACW, for example, should be referred to as Appointment Conversion Weekend (ACW). By including the words and the acronym, you are educating your audience without them knowing. They will quickly adopt the ACW acronym in favor of the longer word description, but they will know what it means.


3. Introduce the system and its modules.

Within medical record systems there are many modules that are specific to the various workflows. Ambulatory, for example, will have a module designed for its workflows. Appointments, specific module. Cardiology, specific module. Some of the names of these modules are self-evident in terms of which workflows they impact, but others may not be as clear.  Leaders new to the project may not know what you mean when you say “Patient Portal”. Start with a high-level introduction to the new system and its different modules, as well as how they work together.

Introducing module information at the beginning of the project is beneficial to everyone involved. Presenting the information to the group is a reminder to the project team of the new people learning it for the first time. Presenting the information to the audience will set the foundation for future information.


4. Involve the project team in these orientation sessions.

It is beneficial to invite members of the project team to cover the topics in these foundational learning sessions. It’s a good way of introducing your partners to the audience and solidifying them as leaders in their areas of expertise. Also, audiences listen better when they hear different voices. The added benefit is you don’t have to cover all the topics yourself! Although, as the leader of all the change activities, you should be prepared to speak to any topic presented at your meeting.


Helping people navigate the big changes coming their way can easily amount to information overload. By unpacking the information into smaller segments, hopefully they will be much easier to process.