How To Manage Enthusiasm For Your New Clinical Technology

Source: Clinical Leader

In November 2019 Clinical Leader Live was proud to feature Larry Florin, president at LBF BioPharma Consulting, to discuss how clinical operations executives can Overcome The Challenges of a Clinical Technology Implementation. During the presentation, Florin covered several topics, including how to be a champion for the technology, how to determine your technology selection team, addressing your to do list, and finding and vetting the right technology vendor. In this video, Florin discusses how to best manage enthusiasm for your new clinical technology.  

Click here to see the complete interview.

Ed Miseta: You said to make sure the enthusiasm isn't overrated, or that people aren't expecting something they're not going to get. So I think even before you begin to start talking to vendors about what their products offer and what they don't, you mentioned talking to the folks who were going to be impacted by the technology, to find out from them, "What, for you, is a must-have? What, for you, is something that would be nice to have? And what are those things that you wish you could have?"

That just seems like you're preparing in advance to make sure they're clear on what we're going to get and what we may or may not get and managing that from the very beginning.

Larry Florin: Yeah. You're absolutely correct. Again, one person's opinion, that everyone who... Depending on, again, the type of software and limitation, the one you're using, the number of people that are affected, but each of those groups has their own self-interest and they're going to want to maximize the utility of the product. And so, it's important that you be able to not only understand what their expectations are, but to also have them help you prioritize them.

"What is most critical? What is something that we'd really, really like to have but, if we don't have, we can live without?" And then third things, "What are things that, wow, it'd be great if we could do this, but we understand today that may be something that just can't be achieved?" And there's ways to work around this.

I mean, sometimes the technology is not the sole answer. Sometimes, it's just the way you operate. Maybe taking a hard look at your processes or how to leverage a technology. And maybe it takes you 70 percent of where you want to be. And then eventually, you hope that you'd build a good vendor relationship and that the supplier, over time, will build new features, functionality, et cetera, into the technology so that, over time, some of those things that maybe were nice-to-haves can move further up that ranking pyramid, and say, "Oh, this is something now that's being offered."

Or you can even help them shape their product road map in terms of saying, "Hey, this is a deficiency. Everything else is really great, but you know what? It would be great. We would love to help you or love to give you some feedback so that, as your engineers begin to design this, here's something else that you may want to consider adding."

Ed Miseta: And I'm probably going to want to mention in this category, you mentioned articulating what success looks like. That seems so incredibly critical because, at some point, you're going to have to go back and look at this implementation and what the technology is doing and know whether this was a success or not a success. If you don't define right from the beginning what success for this project will be, it seems like it would be almost impossible to evaluate if you, in fact, got there or if you didn't.

Larry Florin: Yes. I think you're correct, Ed. There are two ways to maybe look at this. First of all, if things don't work out well, it doesn't matter what you're trying to measure. Everyone knows the outcome. It's not hard to hide the fact when things go south. But in terms of really trying to quantify and to assure that the expectations that were set at the beginning are achieved is, remember to talk about, what's that value case that you're going to present? What are those must-haves? What's the impact it's going to make on your organization? And then find ways to measure them and to check, to have periodic check-ins as the new product technology is being rolled out.

There's going to be stumbling blocks. There's going to be things that get affected. There's going to be people that just don't adopt the technology quite as quickly as you might otherwise like. But at set, defined periods, you should be able to go back and say, "Hey, have we achieved this goal?" "The answer's yes." "Did we measure it?" "Yes." "Did we achieve the savings, the increases in productivity? Did our data quality improve?"

Whatever those criteria are that you've established, each one of them deserves the attention that it demanded at the beginning, in terms of being an important criterion or a group of criteria that you said, "Hey, this is what we need to do in order to take that." As I said before, being the champion to get the process underway and to run the implementation doesn't end at that point. It's also making sure that it delivers on what was promised.

Ed Miseta: As you mentioned already, no product is going to meet all of your needs. That's why you look at, "What do we have to have, and what are the things that are nice to have?" But as the cheerleader for the product, I think you want to make sure that those enthusiasms and expectations are not over-hyped, that everybody is on the same page.

I know you mentioned a little bit of this already but ensuring that you're setting the right expectations. Is there a few steps you can recommend on how to make sure that that's being properly communicated to everyone involved?

Larry Florin: Yeah. Yeah, I think so. I think maybe it's my fault for using the word cheerleader, because really, you're a coach. Part of it's motivating the team, championing the idea, being that leadership position, that high visibility role to say, "Hey, this is what we need to do and I'm going to help us get us there."

Part of it's also being the sober minded one on the panel, not the naysayer, but the person who is comfortable challenging expectations or saying, "Hey, maybe this is something that we will not be able to deliver at this point." That includes sometimes just delivering news that you didn't expect. "Hey, it's going to take us a little bit longer to get where we thought we were, to deliver the value that we expected, for X, Y, Zed reasons, but this is what we're going to do and this is how we're going to work through it."

Maybe the better way to describe this is as, you're the player coach. You're part of the team, you're running it, you're definitely trying to quarterback and lead people down the field. Apologies for unnecessary sports analogies. But at the same time, you're also the one who's going to say, "Hey, maybe this is not the best way to go, or maybe we have to put something aside or change our battle plan in terms of what we're doing."