In preparation for a huge expansion project, Thames Hospice found themselves re-evaluating their clinical IT system. “With more clinical requirements the workloads are going to get bigger and bigger, and of course we’ll be aiming for paperless records as we move to our new premises. These were a few of the reasons why we’ve opted to move to EMIS Web,” Catalin Rusu, clinical business and data manager at the hospice, told us.
With their switch a success, Catalin gave us some of his top tips for other hospices and healthcare organisations looking to migrate to a new clinical system.
1: Do your background research
“Before moving to EMIS Web, we visited and consulted with several other hospices using different clinical systems. Our medical director also invited staff here to give demos so that we had a better idea about what options were on the market for us,” Catalin explains.
“We knew that the majority of GP practices in our catchment area used EMIS Web and it made sense to align ourselves with them in terms of improving our information sharing.
We were also encouraged to go for EMIS Web at the EMIS Health Hospice User Group. It was a great chance to help refine EMIS Health’s offering for hospices and was an opportunity to exchange views and opinions which helps a lot,” states Catalin.
2: Engage your team
Engaging his team in the clinical system switch was a vital part of making sure they got a system that met their needs. As Catalin details, “Before we had our kick-off meeting with EMIS Health, I had several meetings with our clinical leads and the main administrators from our team to discuss the problems with our clinical system at that time and what we needed to do to make things better. It was a great way to identify what we wanted from a new system and what reporting requirements and holistic assessments or templates we wanted to be able to build. This was good research before we started because it meant we knew what expectations we needed to fulfil during the deployment.”
3: Decide how you’ll transition from your old system
“I would say the main thing any organisation needs to think about is whether they’re going for a like-for-like transition or if they'd rather redesign their service,” explains Catalin. “For us, it was better to develop a like-for-like transition because we had a strict deadline and to redesign our service would have been too time consuming.
You need to consider your time scales and think about how many months you can afford to spend deploying and configuring your new system, and how long you can spend transferring everything to the live system. If you have a non-negotiable go-live date like we did, it’s quite hard to justify spending six or seven months on the project, as we only had a few months to spend on deployment.
If you have an adjustable go-live date, it’s great because you can spend time refining the system before you start using it in real practice – otherwise you might be better off going for a like-for-like transition and work on optimising the system after you go live.”
4: Meet with our team
With a set deadline just a few months away, Catalin and his team needed to be sure that the switch was possible in their allotted timeframe. “We met up with the team from EMIS Health about our tight timeline,” he explains. “They said it was do-able, that it wasn’t a problem but that it would be tight. It meant we needed to be on top of everything from the start.”
That initial meeting set the project up in a clear and organised manner, and ensured that EMIS Web would be able to meet the needs of the hospice. As Catalin continues, “The support from EMIS Health was outstanding from day one. We talked with our business development manager before we signed the contract. Everything was brilliant from that moment onwards. He was very helpful and answered all the questions I had and that our clinicians had been asking me about what EMIS Web could do for us.”
5: Plan your migration in detail
After an initial meeting confirmed that what Thames Hospice wanted to achieve was possible, we then set about meticulously planning their migration to EMIS Web. “We had a kick-off meeting in December and we basically had three months to arrange everything. Planning is key when you have a project with tight timescales. You must be on top of everything and have a good team in place so they can help you out with any problems or challenges you’re facing,” Catalin states.
One of our programme managers worked with Thames Hospice to ensure the migration went as smoothly as possible, and arranged training for the clinicians and admin staff at the hospice to help them get to know their new clinical system. “Every member of our team spent at least three hours with the trainer. They found both the end user and super user training very useful because the information was concise and tailored to their role, so that they weren’t confused by the system,” says Catalin.
7: Go live day
Maximising on the support we provide during go-live day is Catalin’s final piece of advice for other organisations planning a switch to EMIS Web. “We had EMIS Health staff here on go-live day and they provided me with the support I needed as I knew it would be manic. That’s because EMIS Web was a new system and we were actually using it – we had patients details on it and we need to provide patient care. They were very good, and they helped make people feel more comfortable with the system throughout the day,” explains Catalin.
After all that hard work, what’s the verdict? Catalin tells us,“Everyone’s loving it. It’s the trustworthy system we needed for the new hospice.”