Improve Epic Implementation Change Management Through Collaboration, Communication

Change management is a critical—and often misunderstood—component of most Epic implementations, and indeed, most software projects.

If you’re an Epic Build Analyst, you may not think about change management much, except when it seems like an annoyance. But understanding and working effectively with the change management team is a huge part of being an Epic Builder.

Unless you have one designated person from your application team making all the change tickets (good luck getting someone to sign up for that job!), you’re going to have to learn, adapt, and accept an organization’s change process. Being a positive participant in that process will save you and your change team a lot of hassle.

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First and foremost, understand that the folks on your change management team are sticklers for detail and process because that’s their job.

The information they are asking you for is required for change auditing, done by both internal and external audit groups. Change managers are focused on improving production for the end users while maintaining environment integrity.

Having worked on several large-scale Epic implementations, I have seen a variety of approaches (good and bad) to change management. The good news is that a collaborative process that works for all parties is definitely achievable. Below are some of my tips for change managers to easily and immediately improve change operations at your organization.

Watch and learn. If you are on the change management team, watch your builders fill out change requests. If you are a builder, have your change team watch you fill out a request. The change team may know the process so well that they are overlooking common pain points for the analysts. Ask what takes the most time while filling out the change request? Can that process be improved? It could even be something outside of Epic, such as educating team members on how to quickly build Data Courier packages with subsets and the like.

Automate and autofill. Do this anywhere and everywhere you can. If you are using Content Management in Epic, create speed buttons that fill out fields for you (e.g. autofilling “Radiant” when a Radiant analyst is submitting a change) or create a default reason for change. It’s definitely not just doctors that appreciate a saved click here and there!

Remove unnecessary ticket fields. If you will never need to report on a certain field, and it isn’t being used by anyone and doesn’t improve the process at all, then why leave it on the ticket? It’s a waste of time. For example, how many times should you have to enter “Epic” as the system that you are changing?

Use clear, precise language on change tickets. I have seen some remarkably cryptic change tickets and systems in my day, such as a “relate” button that actually meant “create.” But these are easy fixes. If a name field on a ticket is unclear, modify it in a way that clarifies what is expected from the user.

In Service Now, hover tooltips are a great feature that improve understanding without cluttering the GUI. The tips allow build analysts to get more information on what is being asked for in that particular field, while reminding them of the audience, so change descriptions are as detailed as they need to be.

Help analysts write better change descriptions. The best change descriptions are specific enough to be clear to an end user or change admin without being too technical. To help your team write better change descriptions show them examples of well-written ones and contrast them to descriptions that are too vague or too technical. Some coaching and positive reinforcement should result in more effective change descriptions.

Finally, before implementing any of the changes above, change managers should, of course, involve and gather feedback from analysts—and then clearly communicate the reasons for and timing of a change.

Collaboration and communication are keys to ensure that your tweaks to the change process are readily accepted and adopted by all of the users.

Kristen Ahlm is an Epic Certified Consultant at Healthcare IT Leaders with extensive experience in developing and maintaining Epic Change Management processes.

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