Establish a data modernization team
Successful data modernization planning and execution is dependent on coordination, dedication, preparation and communication.
To be effective in addressing data modernization needs, it is critical for public health agencies to create a team that can contribute and guide the health department through the process. Members may include executive sponsors, program leaders, information technology specialists, professional informatics scientists, clinical informatics specialists and epidemiologists. The team must support implementation by identifying training needs and data sets, facilitating department-wide shared services (i.e., technology solutions that exist across the entire health department rather than being program-specific) and championing cross-department collaboration and sharing among programs.
The data modernization team should include an executive sponsor (sometimes called project sponsor) to ensure that data modernization goals are aligned with overall health department strategy. Additionally, the sponsor is responsible for garnering support from other senior leadership and providing ongoing direction as the data modernization work unfolds. Executive sponsorship is a critical factor for project success. Ideally, an executive sponsor should hold a managerial position.The size and composition of each data modernization team will differ based upon the needs of each health department, but the responsibilities will be similar:
- Articulating and communicating the data modernization strategic objectives and value.
- Working with the project team to ensure the vision for the project is successfully translated into the technical details required for implementation activities.
- Identifying and bringing in best practices.
- Eliminating obstacles that may threaten planning and implementation success.
- Managing leadership partners across the health department.
- Making sure resources are available to ensure successful and complete implementation.
Below are qualifications and experience to consider when building a data modernization team:
- Understand the data modernization work.
- Understand and manage leadership expectations.
- Ability to inspire a team to buy in and be engaged in the project’s success.
- Tact to negotiate with partners to ensure project success.
- Resourcefulness to defeat obstacles.
- Stellar communications skills.
Note: it is possible that the health department might not have team members that meet all of the qualifications and experience mentioned above. In those instances, create a team that covers as many of the qualifications as possible. Then, consider using a value case to explain to health department leadership why additional staff members should be hired and how this will advance the data modernization work.
In addition, team members should be forward-thinking so they can assess current problems, determine what problems might arise in the future and develop a plan to address all of those within the current efforts. Use the Identify the Data Modernization Planning Team worksheet as a guide to identify individuals who should be part of the data modernization planning team.