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August 22, 2017

Introducing Critical Success Factors for Informatics Projects

Is your agency in the process of becoming more informatics-savvy? Perhaps you have either heard of or have already taken the Informatics-Savvy Health Department self-assessment tool and are leveraging relevant resources. How can you put these assessment results to use and apply them to improve the success of your informatics projects?

Background

PHII updated the Aiming for Success tool from paper-based to electronic.

First, let’s take a trip back in time when All Kids Count, a former program of the the Public Health Informatics Institute (PHII), developed Aiming for Success: Assessing your Readiness for an Information System Project. This tool was developed to help identify and describe best practices in developing public health information systems. The project was developed in collaboration with the Genetic Services Branch, Maternal and Child Health Bureau (GSB/MCHB) of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and supported by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). In 2013, the deBeaumont Foundation provided support to update the tool to be used in the facilitation of informatics capacity-building workshops.

One challenge of any informatics initiative is to ensure that project goals have been clearly defined to lead successful projects.

Many agencies have used the Aiming for Success dashboard as a tool to both improve the success of informatics projects and communicate more effectively with the project team. Arthur Davidson, MD, MSPH, Director of Public Health Informatics, Epidemiology and Preparedness at Denver Public Health, recently shared his experience with using the dashboard. In the past, Denver Public Health worked on a project to improve HPV vaccination rates in young women and men in the metro region. The goal was to generate demographic group-specific reports for up-to-date HPV rates by jurisdiction and sub-county areas (neighborhoods or census tracts). One challenge for any informatics project is to ensure that project goals have been clearly defined. While seeking to expand reporting capabilities beyond what is possible from the existing immunization information system (IIS), the ultimate goal was not to push adoption of a specific technology solution, but to focus on a desired feature or functionality and how to most efficiently replicate that service for other agencies. Dr. Davidson expressed the effectiveness of using the Aiming for Success dashboard to ensure that critical success factors were well-defined and in place to lead to a successful pilot that would drive work on a long-term dissemination and sustainability plan.

Innovation

In 2015, PHII’s Informatics Academy identified an opportunity to modernize and expand the reach of the Aiming for Success  tool. The improvement project’s goals included 1) making the tool available anytime and anywhere; 2) providing additional information and resources to aid in better understanding and consistent rating of the success factors; and 3) providing guidance and resources tailored to the results to improve in priority areas. Over the past two years, the Academy has worked with subject matter experts in public health informatics and eLearning development to expand and enhance the tool to help practitioners working to build modern information systems.

Launch of Critical Success Factors for Informatics Projects

There are eight critical elements agencies should focus on to evaluate their informatics capacity.

PHII has now launched this innovative tool with additional training and resources, all included in one experience! Critical Success Factors for Informatics Projects takes the high-level principles of the Informatics-Savvy Health Department and provides practical guidance for immediate application at the project level. In this new on-demand training, your core project team will learn about the eight factors that are critical to the success of any informatics project and how to identify whether each factor is present or absent. The team can also complete the project assessment to get a dashboard view of areas of success and opportunity and connect to the necessary resources to help make improvements in priority areas.

Critical Success Factors for Informatics Projects focuses on people, processes, policies and planning rather than the technology itself. This helps your team stay focused on what’s really important: the people and the work they do to ensure your information system will effectively support improved public health outcomes. This experience is designed for individuals and teams involved in informatics projects, as well as program leaders or staff looking to diagnose the source of information challenges while building informatics capacity. The innovative technology behind this training and assessment tool also provides the PHII team insight into areas where we can further support the public health community to improve health outcomes.

You can learn more about Critical Success Factors for Informatics Projects and other public health informatics training resources at www.informaticsacademy.org.

Sarah Gilbert, MBA

Director of the Informatics Academy