We’ve shared many tips thus far for facilitating Epic implementation efforts in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today we’re going to focus on those less concrete but nevertheless vital (especially right now) “soft skills” that allow us to better support fellow healthcare IT professionals and clinical end users as we collectively battle Coronavirus. It’s important to keep our business practices human and to not lose sight of one another in this chaotic and stressful time. It’s easy right now to attempt to compartmentalize, however impossible that might really be for some of us, so let us share some of our methods for enduring these hardships well while still honoring professional relationships within the healthcare space.
Acknowledge The Mask-Wearing Elephant In The Room
One of our biggest pet peeves are the folks who appear to be tone deaf to the incredible burden carried by all healthcare professionals on the front lines of COVID-19, including tech folks. Whether we’re responsible for direct patient care or implementing EHR solutions to support these clinical roles, we’re feeling the impacts of this virus across the entire spectrum of our industry. Sending an email or beginning a meeting without first checking in and acknowledging what someone is (even potentially) going through right now is like a clanging gong. It doesn’t ring as genuine or humane, and it doesn’t open the channels for effective communication with peers who may very well be hanging on by a thread.
We all like to imagine that we’re impervious to stress and fear, capable of doing our jobs without missing a beat, but this is both false and really rough to expect of yourself and each other. Allow a beat, just a brief one, for taking the professional equivalent of a deep breath before launching into business-as-usual. the perfect time to focus on the most important thing and leave anything else out that can wait. (Think: Essentialism applied to business communications. Less is more.)
Keep Communication With Healthcare IT Pros To-The-Point
While we advocate for keeping the current state of affairs out in the open, this doesn’t have to usurp all communication until further notice. There is an incredible volume of data coming at all of us right now, even more so for those on the front lines of healthcare. Sending a verbose email to a physician end user about an upcoming Epic upgrade while they’re tackling endless shifts is not a wise move to encourage retention or attention.
So how to proceed? Get to the point. Fast. Don’t send four paragraphs when one will do. Sure, open the email by wishing them well and thanking them for all their hard work. Then get to the point in as few words as possible, highlighting the most critical sentence for efficiency, and then end it.
The same goes for meetings. Don’t drone on. Take a moment to praise their vital role in the fight against Coronavirus, set the expectations and purpose for the meeting, deliver the content/have the discussion, then disconnect and send action steps in a simple bulleted list to follow. Now is the perfect time to focus on the most important thing and leave anything else out that can wait. (Think: Essentialism applied to business communications. Less is more.)
Don’t Assume Priorities For Health Systems During COVID-19
Finally, when conducting business with healthcare IT professionals and healthcare providers in the current climate, don’t assume that your project, needs, priorities are the same as those you’re working with. Sure, their clinic or hospital may not be swarming with ICU cases and maxed out ventilator capacity, but a beloved parent may be infected and fighting tooth and nail for breath. We have both individual and collective battles to fight right now, so it’s important to ask and get a sense of where your audience and colleagues are in regard to the subject at hand.
For example, if you’re moderating a scheduled conference call for the Epic implementation project team, start by checking in with key stakeholders on their ability to stay involved, to provide budget for efforts, and to execute against whatever plans existed before Coronavirus upended more than just the project.
We will all make it through this time if we support one another by remembering we’re more than just resources or end users on a project. Show up well for one another and we can do far greater things.