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What is a Program?

Posted Apr 15 2013 12:04pm

Ah the eternal question, to define what something is so that one understands it. The question arises what is a program? I'm not referring to our friendly and ever evolving computer programs here, but in more of a strategic and project management perspective.

According to the authoritative Project Management Institute, a program is defined as " A group of related projects, subprograms, and program activities that are managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits not available from managing them individually."

Examining this definition there are three key takeaways:
  1. A related project, subprograms, and program activities:
  2. Managed coordinately to obtain additional benefits
  3. the additional benefits not available from managing them individually

Let's go a bit more into the weeds here to assure we have a good sense of each takeaway. In business, we often have strategies for example offer a world class cardiology program to Northeast Florida. However taking that strategy and breaking it down to its pieces and parts may equate to several different things. It may start with the fact that we need to expanding the cardiology department, and increase the footprint of the physicians group. It may have a component that we need to update the clinical technology offered, which may need a update of the infrastructure in place. We may need to expand the department with new roles and coordinators. We may need new biomedical equipment. We may need to improve customer services, so those waiting aren't waiting that long. We may need to recruit additional physicians. In other words there is a lot to this work. But let's start out with the healthcare information technology side. Just purchasing new technology, isn't the panacea normally described by those in sales. There is the new workflow to consider, making sure the foundational infrastructure can support the new cardiology system, deploying the system, and finally getting the adoption of the new practices offered by the system. Yes, we can manage each of these pieces individually, but combining them under a program effort offers a way to synergize the initiatives and gain greater benefits. So for examples, if we were deploying WYSE devices with a Citrix backend and single sign-on offered via Impravata to update the infrastructure, we could include this testing with the workflow development. As clinicians gain familiarity with a technology that allows for a proximity to a device to bring up their existing session, there will be enhanced opportunities. Thus in this scenario a program management approach to these individual technology projects makes sense.

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