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Strategic planning is essential in healthcare- particularly when implementing and operationalizing an EHR. One key extension to proper strategic planning is project and portfolio management. According to the Project Management Institute, 89% of high-performing organizations value project management and 81% of high-performing organizations actively engage sponsors.  An overall Portfolio Management Framework, however, is a necessary component to effective project management since it can instill a programmatic but practical approach towards implementation and optimization initiatives. To sum it all up, portfolio management helps projects align with overall enterprise strategies.

Portfolio Management is the ability to effectively and efficiently assesses and plan efforts to improve an organization’s assets, applications, products, and projects. Portfolio Management helps drive a connection between the programs and projects, thereby ensuring ultimately that the right people are in the right roles with the right tools delivering successful execution of their initiatives.

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As we go through Portfolio Management it’s important to hold interactive meetings to prioritize and make decisions so that project managers and leaders can perform “What if” planning and understand the impact on costs, budgets and resources in a real-time manner. The following six steps can help drive these meetings and subsequent planning and execution:

  1. Gather and upload vendor information- This is the pivotal first step where organizations should use a system updater to quickly gather and update vendor product and application information. It’s impotent to include descriptions, statuses, satisfaction and performance levels. Additionally, this is where you would want to capture priorities, annual capital and operating costs, and stages of the product lifecycle.
  2. Structure data into categories and assets- After performing the due diligence in step 1, this step continues those efforts by using categories and assets to organize and stratify the vendor applications and products in a company’s portfolio. This is a crucial mapping and organizing effort.
  3. Validate and analyze status, satisfaction and cost- Portfolio Management can then be used to validate and analyze the current state of the organization and current status of subsequent initiatives. This includes determining satisfaction rates and understanding the cost performance of the vendor products and applications.
  4. Identify areas for improvement and cost savings- In this step we compare vendor products and vendor applications in order to identify possible recommendations for improvement and identify possible, future cost savings. The stratification of assets, applications, and their associated costs make this effort easier and savings more apparent.
  5. Assess potential changes- Priority Decision and Risk Assessment are two tools that can be used in assessing new potential portfolio improvements, as well as new vendor products or applications that the organization may want to invest in. Additionally, these tools can determine areas of potential further cost reduction. Often this cost reduction can signal the time to start sun-setting legacy components or operations.
  6. Portfolio Management Plan- Finally, it’s important to incorporate an initiative scenario analysis of the value, risk, and total cost (including resources) of all proposed new improvements and investments into a Portfolio Optimization Report.

As essential as strategic planning is in healthcare, an approach that leverages Portfolio Management can deliver strategic alignment with the core vision of an agenda to reform and improve health and healthcare and ensure projects are conducted in a disciplined and consistent manner. At the same time, using Portfolio Management frameworks, like the one listed above, can help healthcare organizations manage interdependencies across complex and diverse strategies and help to drive down the cost of delivering complex services.

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Sarah Shillington has more than 20 years of solid healthcare IT experience with particular expertise in developing strategy and tactics in the areas of executive level operations, professional services, consulting, and account management. She has more than 16 years of EHR services implementation experience, providing strong and effective leadership to clients and partners. She has assisted over 70 EHR installations and is the recipient of McKesson’s prestigious Pinnacle Award for innovation in early customer distance learning programs