I'm having a very interesting time at the moment changing our software supplier! I wonder how many of you have faced this? If you have you will know what a major issue it is. It is something that would be handled by a dedicated project manager in many organisations, but for us practice managers it is just another task!
This has involved some major planning, as you might imagine. All of a sudden we are now at the crunch point this weekend (and I am looking at another weekend of working) as the server is changed and the converted patient data are loaded. Monday will be the big test when we see how the users get on!
We think we are fairly average in our use of IT, but the supplier tells us they seldom see practices with as many "add-ons" as us – an added complication for them.
We have had a trial version of the converted data for just over a month. This was installed on three machines. Everyone was given some allocated time to try out the system and was encouraged to spend as much extra time as they could to get familiar with the new system.
Most have then attended structured training sessions with the supplier's trainer. These were extremely good but caused panic as some realised they should have "played" more on the trial system! No matter how much you tell/encourage some actions, some just don't believe what you say! (And who were the ones who had spent the least time "playing"? The GPs of course!)
As always, I am optimistic and looking forward to the change and the challenge – and fully prepared for everything to go wrong over the weekend before it goes right. One advantage is that both practices I manage will now be using the same software.
Not wanting to waste an opportunity for change, we have also set up a new practice intranet. I think the software we use for this is excellent, and I am having fun seeing what it can do (I am obviously working far too many weekends, I need to get out more!). So that is something else for the staff to master, but it gives them a very easy way of finding information and seeing what is going on.
The good news is that we haven't changed our appointments system or the document management system, so there will still be plenty of familiar processes for the staff. The bad news is that we can't practise using several bits of the new system, such as registration and pathology, until we go live.
There is also a lot of data to be added to the new system after existing data took a week to be converted. Everyone seems up for working some extra hours, however, so hopefully this won't be too much of a problem.
Has anyone got any interesting experiences of major changes in their practice? I'll keep you informed as to how our initial days go – let's hope all the toys stay in the pram. I'm hoping that one added bonus of all this might be that I'll lose some weight with all the running around I will no doubt be doing in the early stages!