communications process. Standard short message service (SMS)
texting does not provide sufficient
security for healthcare data. Also,
costly lawsuits reported in the
news clearly indicate what happens
when secure data is intercepted. A
key reason why Covenant’s finance
and regulatory departments
endorsed the solution was because
it reduced this risk.
2 Secure Physician Buy-In Two considerations are critical
to getting physician buy-in and
ensuring successful implementation. First, the IT team needs to
overcome inherent resistance to
change. To get clinicians on board,
engage them in a discussion on the
solution’s benefits. Then, provide
adequate support and coaching to
avoid potential roadblocks.
Covenant first implemented its
secure messaging option out of
necessity. Physicians, nurses, and
other staff wanted an easy and
convenient way to communicate
important information, such as
patient orders. Security was essential to avoid compromising patient
care in the process and keeping PHI
safe. The clinical staff had heard
news about lawsuits filed when
standard SMS texting caused interception of PHI.
Once Covenant made the deci-
sion to implement the new solution,
IT decided to approach key adopt-
ers—the “popular kids” or most
sought-after providers—to test
In this case, the cancer center had
well-connected physicians and the
most complicated decision trees for
routing calls and messages. In addition, the center reported the worst
experiences with its then-current
vendor, such as outrageous
invoices and dropped messages
(see “Doing Vendor Due Diligence”).
For these reasons, Covenant’s
oncology department was a good
choice to go first.
The oncology department includes
eight oncologists, two radiation
oncologists, research staff, an infusion center, and a lab, with about
100 staff members. Having a successful experience with this group
was a great win for everyone else in
the organization. Subsequently, the
cancer center became an advocate
for the solution.
3 Introduce to Operations The third step for a successful
go-live is to ensure proper train-
ing and support for end users. To
accomplish this goal, Covenant
assigned an IT project owner dedi-
cated to implementing the solution
across the medical group. This
individual helped operations adjust
to the new solution by handling
any issues that arose, providing a
seamless transition, and delivering
support for the physician practices.
Having a team member devoted
to the project also helped IT learn
cASE STUDY about operations in physician
practices. As the IT liaison gained
knowledge of the operational
workflow, the team came to under-
stand the needs the new application
served and how to meet the
project’s clinical expectations. The
liaison provided ongoing services for
doctors who needed additional time.
This level of engagement continues
past the go-live period. Operations
can call the IT team about any
issues, including system upgrades.
Determining which physicians are
averse to using the technology is
crucial. In many cases, it’s best to
meet with the nurses who support
those physicians and demonstrate
how the new technology saves time.
Nurses typically do the heavy lifting.
Connecting with nurses, teaching
them how to use the solution, and
getting their buy-in makes it pos-
sible to solicit their assistance in
getting physicians to see the value
and use the technology.
Because the goal of any technology is to improve patient care while
allowing physicians to provide a
personal touch, Covenant provides
one-on-one training for new physicians. On the physician’s start date,
an IT liaison goes to the physician’s
office for a few days to help with
every clinical application. To accommodate training, Covenant asks new
physicians to cut back their schedules for the first week or so.
For nurses and other staff joining
the practice, initial training on the
solution technology is held in a
group setting. Following training,
experienced colleagues help new
employees who encounter difficulty on the job. Showing users why
Covenant set up the application in
a specific way is the best approach
to introduce the solution to others
who have used similar applications
with previous employers. The IT
resource explains this to new staff,
but much of the education takes
place during day-to-day use.
Covenant partnered with PerfectServe, Inc., whose cloud-based communication
software supports multiple devices. It automatically tracks patient and caregiver
conversations, and data can be searched and sorted according to patient name.