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Mental health and addictions professionals require tools. For a couple decades, Terry McLeod has been a trailblazer providing those tools in the form of Electronic ...Read More

If people don’t feel included, for the most part, they just don’t bother to be involved at all, and may be quick to notice negatives and pass them around.

That’s why internal Implementation Blogs are becoming keys to increasing “buy in” into IT projects and avoiding disruption to the recovery process. A consumer is generally quite aware of the fact that new software’s being implemented where they receive mental health or addictions care. The activity is obvious, and usually affects every staff member. The consumer sees a different invoice, a different way of scheduling his appointments, and the professionals they work with will begin including them in writing up the summary of a session and the next steps in treatment in progress notes on the computer.

Sometimes the consumer hears about lingering problems with the system that aren’t being addressed. It’s good to avoid airing the dirty laundry like this. Much better to resolve problems that will affect the consumers early and communicating about those problems internally is better than sharing them with the consumers. The consumer comes to treatment to recover, not to hear about software implementation problems.

A few years ago a friend and customer who was implementing an enterprise software system in a Florida Community Mental Health Center (CMHC) shared that she started a blog page to increase staff involvement in the implementation. This accomplished a couple things:

1. Staff reported successes with the software increasing their efficiency and effectiveness in doing their job.

2. Staff complained.

The successes were little testimonials of great impact, and went on the page immediately. This helped people feel involved, like their efforts made a difference, and boosted morale.

If a complaint made it to the page, something needed to be done. It was OK to complain, and staff was coached in how to complain on the blog in such a way that the complaint wouldn’t bring people down and create negative attitudes about the project. Problems are meant to be solved, and any complaints included hope that the problem was temporary and a resolution was on the way. News of effective resolutions made it to the Implementation Blog really quick.

Negative comments were OK, and resulted in attention to the person making that comment. They seldom made it to the blog before the reporting staff edited the comment to show there was some hope, something was being done, or an alternate procedure worked around their problem…in effect, the blog was turning these negative comments into positive action.

I liked this idea and have suggested it in my work many times to folks about to implement software in their mental health or addictions facility. Usually, it’s viewed as one more thing to add to the ever-growing pile of things to do in an environment that’s already short handed. Of those who have instituted the Implementation Blog, Nobody’s wanted to back out. The staff buy-in to the project is much better, simply because staff feels more involved and like what they say counts.

Plus, the consumers heard very few negative comments about the software project, making it that much easier to focus on their own recovery.

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