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The fundamentals of healthcare project management

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Following on from our last blog about why clinicians make good project managers, this week I look at how project management principles can be applied in healthcare.

The advent of cloud technology is fundamentally changing the way healthcare is delivered and the consequences of not keeping up with the pace of change and getting something wrong could not be greater. After all, healthcare is one of a handful of industries I can think of where project success can mean the real time difference between life and death.

It is times like this that having robust programme and project management principles in place make things easier. Here are some of the fundamentals of successful healthcare project management:

Create a portfolio view of your projects

When you’re running multiple, complex projects in different departments it is easy to lose sight of what is happening. To avoid this, consider creating a portfolio for each department with common metrics and simple reporting for each portfolio. This will ensure that project managers and other stakeholders have quick and easy access to the relevant information and will also aid prioritisation and benefits measuring.

Resource management

Making sure you have the right resources available when you need them is a crucial part of ensuring your projects are successful. This is particularly important in healthcare where a large component of your project team is likely to be clinical staff with full time day jobs on top of their project responsibilities.

Resource management can be as simple as creating a spreadsheet with a list of the project team’s names, skills, availability and current workload to something more complex that can model future resource requirements based on factors including project schedules, budgets and skills and can show current over and under allocation of time for individual team members.

It is also worth tracking the actual time it takes to complete tasks using timesheets. This will allow you to check how accurate your estimates are and adjust them if necessary.

Risk management

Hospitals and other healthcare providers are experts in risk and the skills used to manage clinical risk are equally as valuable when managing project risk. Ensure you capture any actual and perceived risks to the project up front and proactively manage them when they eventuate.

Reporting

As with all things clinical, reporting on your projects is a must. Whether the reports are going to individual project team members, the steering committee or wider stakeholders making sure you only report on what you need to will make life much easier. As will having a central repository for all project information which can then be used to run different reports. This means project managers only need to enter data once.

Benefits management

A lot of organisations set out to achieve certain benefits when they start a project. Unfortunately once the project finishes most organisations do not follow up on those benefits to check that they are being achieved. Put in place mechanisms to keep measuring your project benefits and be pro-active to maximise those benefits.

There’s a lot more that can be said on this topic so we’ll be discussing it at the Improving Healthcare International Convention (IHIC) in Melbourne next week. If you’re interested in finding out more, come and visit us there – we’re on the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise pavilion.

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