The pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic are shining a light on the central importance of the lab to the clinical goals of a hospital or health system.
COVID-specific challenges for hospital lab professionals range from new billing and documentation requirements to the setup and configuration of drive-through test facilities.
These challenges are also highlighting the value of an integrated lab solution like Epic Beaker and the importance of properly planning and scoping the implementation of such a system. As a long-time Beaker implementation consultant with multiple completed projects under my belt, I view the resource plan for a Beaker project as a critical success factor.
Specifically, planners need to ensure that all of the stakeholders directly or indirectly affected by the lab system understand the changes required to implement a more robust, integrated solution. Identifying these stakeholders and getting their input into the project, as needed, will ensure better outcomes and greater buy-in.
Who are the Lab Stakeholders?
Many Epic hospitals don't start with Beaker, but add it later to replace a legacy system. In these projects, there are teams that interact with the current-state lab system that will play an important role in the Beaker project. These include:
- The Orders team that typically owns the lab build in Epic without Beaker.
- The HIM team that ensures that patient records flow correctly between systems.
- Security ensures appropriate role-specific system access.
- The Patient Access team (Cadence/Grand Central/Prelude) handles registration and scheduling.
- The infrastructure team handles devices and hardware.
- The interface team to manage lab instruments and downstream systems
- Regulatory operations to ensure compliance.
- Lab operations – though frequently the time commitments for requirements-setting and validation are greatly underestimated.
Unfortunately, even if resource planning and allocation for the above-listed teams is perfect, a Beaker add-on may still struggle. There are three primary areas of focus that can get overlooked in planning.
Billing and Revenue Cycle. Not only should financial leaders be included in the governance structure of the project, but professional billing (PB) and hospital billing (HB) analysts and billing/coding experts will be needed for testing and validation.
Clinical Leadership. Building consensus and excitement around the change outside of the lab is crucial to the success of the implementation. Outside the lab, the group most impacted by a new lab system are the providers who collect specimens and see the results. These leaders – the CNO, CMO, CNIO, and CMIO – should all be involved in workflow scoping and testing. Set aside resources for end-user training as well.
Other Clinical Applications. If the implementation of Beaker is designed to get the most out of the integration with other Epic applications, you should allocate resources to plan and test the functionality. That means OpTime, Radiant, and Cupid for the integrated Specimen Navigator, and Beacon for the lab tests in their Treatment Plans.
Avoid Costly Delays
If you don’t incorporate the needs from these teams in your planning, you may find that they don’t have the capacity to help you when needed. When these teams are omitted, you might miss milestones due to resource constraints, go over budget bringing in consultants to fill in gaps/back fill, or even have to delay your implementation,.
There are three ways to avoid these pitfalls.
- Plan early, standardize where possible, and build stakeholder consensus at inception.
- Collect data directly in Epic’s build tools. A huge part of preparing for a project is gathering all the source data in one place. Save yourself the pitfalls of transcribing the data by documenting directly in Epic’s spreadsheets as your source of truth.
- Be inclusive in governance and steering committees.
The most valuable thing you can do is undertake the planning and scoping for these projects in partnership with the experienced professionals at Healthcare IT Leaders. Our team members have led multiple Beaker implementations and are ready to help you launch your new system or optimize your existing one. Contact Healthcare IT Leaders today to discuss your Beaker build with our team.
Steve Geraci, JD, MHA is Director of Ancillary Applications for Healthcare IT Leaders and a Senior Epic Beaker consultant and project manager who has led multiple Beaker implementations. Steve's 10+ year career in lab systems includes a stint as an Epic Beaker PM for Epic Systems Corporation in Verona, Wisc.