Working in the healthcare sector is one of the toughest environments for project managers. In this video, Bob McGannon discusses the significant challenges with working on a healthcare project including: the 24x7 environment, working with passionate healthcare professionals, needing foolproof backups for everything, and working in a highly regulated environment.
- As a project and program manager, I've had the privilege of working in and learning about a number of different business environments. When anyone asks me about the toughest environment, I don't hesitate in answering, it's healthcare, hands down. Why is healthcare so tough? Well, let's consider some of the more significant challenges. First, it's quite often a 24 by seven no holiday environment. In fact, holidays can often be the busiest times at hospitals.
Second, healthcare professionals are passionate, extremely passionate as there are literally lives at stake. Third, you need foolproof backups for everything. Any process, automated or not, requires a backup to ensure patient care and medical records are handled appropriately. Fourth, it's a highly regulated environment, and last, you typically have to schedule your projects in great detail. Let's talk about each of these items.
First, it's a 24 by seven environment. When I worked for IBM, I managed the information technology environment for a group of hospitals for a couple of years. Making changes to IT infrastructures, software upgrades, or physical hospital facilities had to be planned well in advance. Regardless, hospitals can change things at the last minute deferring to patient care needs. For example, I was involved in planning a set of cable upgrades at one of the hospitals we supported. It was scheduled months in advance so alternate patient care locations could be setup and managed.
A few hours before the change was set to start, there was an unusually large multi-car accident on a local highway with numerous injuries. The change was canceled, and we had to wait a considerable time before we could reschedule. Second, you constantly deal with passionate healthcare professionals. The doctors and nurses you work with are totally dedicated to their craft. This is good news if you need to get feedback on any facility layout or process changes since it's easy to get healthcare professionals to respond.
On the other hand, you have to be meticulous about describing your changes to ensure they're perceived as beneficial for your healthcare stakeholders and the patients they serve. More than any other environment I've worked in, you must invest the extra effort to ensure you have the buy in for your caregivers so they're ready to provide care using the changes you've made. Third, you need foolproof backups for everything. While the premise behind this challenge is simple, it can be difficult to execute.
The retrieval, updating, and filing of patient care records needs to have backup processes to ensure information is not lost. Further complicating this is that data encryption needs are necessary with technology solutions to make sure private patient data is not compromised. Fourth, you work in a highly regulated environment. In different countries, and from state to state in the US, healthcare regulations differ. You may need to hire expert advisors or do your own research to make sure your project changes are in accordance with federal and local legislature.
And the last challenge, you need to provide very detailed scheduling. Earlier, I made reference to scheduling issues in my point about healthcare being a 24 by seven environment. As many of your project changes can affect the delivery of patient care, you need to organize, communicate, and confirm these impacts in detail. You'll also want to do this in advance to ensure the delivery of patient care's not compromised. So, these are just some of the major challenges you can encounter when managing healthcare projects.
A bit intimidating, I must admit, however with careful planning and the foresight I hope to give you throughout this course, you're more likely to tackle these project smoothly.
- Managing healthcare project stakeholders
- Dealing with regulatory constraints
- Establishing milestones
- Assessing project risks
- Executing your healthcare project