Why Do Hospitals Fail Integrated Testing?
The problem with failed integrated testing is not on the skill of the people working on the interfacing, the hospital, or even the vendors. Hospitals fail these tests because of a lack of information. Epic’s own best practices do not emphasize the steps that the hospital must take to prepare themselves for testing. Epic does not offer clients a clear roadmap for designing a project plan that ensures each vendor is engaged and each module is plugged in and ready to go at the time of Phase One testing.
Inexperienced interface teams do not understand the real importance of integrated testing. Developers who may be used to hearing the word “test” associated with small-budget projects simply do not know that failing this milestone costs the hospital hundreds of thousands of dollars. They rely on the information provided by Epic, and they follow those best practices. Unfortunately, the testing phase arrives, and failing interfaces throw into sharp relief the importance of strategic planning.
What is Epic’s Role in the Integration Process?
Hospital leaders may assume that an Epic team will be there every step of the way, guiding them throughout the process. That assumption is a direct result of Epic’s sales practices. Many Epic clients are under the impression that Epic will not let them fail, and that internal IT teams can handle the implementation once they become Epic certified. In reality, the landscape is much different.
Epic provides the hospital with a few consultants, but they do not assign full teams to each project. Epic also outlines its best practices for implementations, practices it requires its consultants to follow to the letter. However, those best practices are general: Epic applies the same guiding principles to all implementations, without taking into consideration the hospital’s unique needs and IT landscape. It is up to the hospital to fill in the gaps, either with their own staff or by bringing in third-party consultants.
For the interfacing piece of an implementation, Epic’s only commitment is to its own software. Their teams will ensure that the Epic side of the equation is up and running, but it’s up to the hospital to manage each vendor and bring them online in time for testing to begin. A lack of strategic planning almost inevitably causes integrated testing to fail. But without guidance, how can hospital staff know that they must put more time and focus on this process?
How Should a Hospital Prepare for Integrated Testing?
Hospitals that hope to deploy Epic successfully and on deadline should work closely with niche consultants who specialize in Epic interoperability. Many Big-Box IT firms offer Epic consulting, but those firms outsource their onsite teams. Niche consulting firms that focus solely on Epic, and who have successfully navigated Epic implementations in the past, are best equipped to navigate the waters of vendor management and integration.
Failing to prepare for integrated testing means planning to fail. It is only with experience that consultants will know the shortfalls of Epic’s best practices – and how to overcome them. To meet all deadlines, and properly interface all critical modules, hospital CIOs should seek out experienced Epic interoperability partners who can create and implement efficient and effective processes that ensure testing will be a success – and to avoid the resource drain of failure.