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Managing and Implementing Healthcare Projects: The Checklist

When Atul Gawande, the celebrated US surgeon, and New Yorker writer, published "The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right" in 2009, it wasn’t just President Obama’s eyes that were opened.

Everyone was astonished that something so simple – and so common! – could be so effective, if only we’d use them more often.

But it was particularly shocking to learn that something as basic as a checklist could be so transformative in delivering what everyone believed to be an impossible pipe dream; reliable health care. What’s more, it’s as true for intricate surgical procedures as it is for complex building projects.

So it’s not surprising that the NHS in England should have published a checklist of their own for anyone managing or involved in implementing a healthcare project, which they published in March of 2021. Effectively, there are four stages they list that need to be followed:

1. Define and scope

You need to begin by producing an overview of the current state of play to identify precisely what the problems are. So you’ll need to use the appropriate diagnostic tools to detect what the root causes of those problems are.

And to then sit down with the relevant stakeholders within the department or organization, to make sure that they’re on board from the very beginning. Because they’re the ones who are going to ensure buy-in from everyone else. Obviously, those stakeholders will differ, depending on whether you’re a frontline health carer or part of one of the organizations that serve them.

Once you have a more detailed understanding of what the core issues are, you’ll be able to firm up your precise objectives. Which will give you the scope of the project you’re about to undertake.

2. Establish baseline measurements

Now that you’ve worked out what your aims and objectives are, you need to establish what each of the baseline measurements is in all of the different areas that make up your project. These indicators will be your means of tracking the project’s progress. And, crucially;

“It is important that measurements for these indicators are recorded and analysed throughout the project and beyond.”

This way, you’ll know where you are in each of the areas and what adjustments you need to make in the course of the project’s implementation. This is particularly pertinent to the healthcare sector where managing and analyzing data, and in real-time, is so vitally important.

3. Design and plan

The next step is the action plan. You need to work out what the beginning and endpoints are, and then break down everything that happens in between into discreet, clearly identifiable tasks. Each of which will have a target date, and each of which you’ll assign to a specific individual and department. This will give you your schedule.

That schedule will have signaled milestones that will help you chart the project’s progress. Again, what those milestones look like will depend on what area of the healthcare sector you operate in.

4. Implementation

Before implementing the plan in full, you’ll need to run a series of trial runs for each of the different components. That’ll help you to anticipate any issues before they become permanent.

And it’ll help you to further build up trust and rapport with the managers and individuals who are going to be in charge of overseeing all those changes. Then;

“Once the change is fully implemented, (you need to) monitor it to ensure the original aims and benefits are continuing to be realised.”

Finally, you’ll need to conduct a project review to assess how successful the implementation was, and to make sure that everybody is continuing to adapt to the new way of doing things.

The take-away

Regardless of where it is that you work in the healthcare sector, whether at a hospital, insurance company, or at any of the many organizations and institutions that serve the sector, there’s one thing that keeps cropping up in each of those four stages. It’s all about data.

About measuring and collecting data, monitoring and analyzing them, and making sure that everyone in the pipeline is reliably and regularly communicated to about all the relevant data, and in real-time.

So the question you need to ask is; how reliably do we manage our data? Because ultimately, that’s what every organization in the healthcare sector depends on.

Learn how our Project Portfolio Management solution can be used to collate and report your project data when managing and implementing Healthcare projects.