At the urging of her homeschooling mother who also worked as a nurse, Joy Lawless started a course in Latin and Greek at the age of 7 to gain a grasp of medical terminology. That gives you some sense of how deeply connected the now director of healthcare implementation for Flywire is to the trade. As both a child and young adult, Lawless spent many days volunteering at various departments in the hospital in which her mom worked, and many nights conversing about healthcare topics over the dinner table. It was little surprise that she’d begin her career working in public health and as a medical assistant.
From there, a series of roles both within and out of the healthcare industry equipped her with an exceptional set of skills for her job today. She learned how Medicare billing worked at a Bioreference Lab company, she was a leader in creating the implementation process for SaaS project management company Wrike, and used what she learned across her career to teach a highly regarded workshop on transformational change. She came to Flywire in 2020 via Simplee, where she had worked three years prior.
Since then, Joy has worked on numerous implementations of healthcare software for some of the largest hospital systems in the country. Here are some of her tips for what makes for a seamless Flywire implementation, that also apply to other healthcare technology projects.
Keys to successful healthcare implementations
What makes for a strong software implementation for a healthcare organization?
Make the project a priority, and don’t be afraid to delay if it’s not. Sounds simple, but, “is this project a major priority for your organization?” is the first question Lawless’s team will seek to understand. A strong implementation needs the right client resources. If people are stretched too thin – and it’s one of multiple things the organization is trying to implement – Lawless said the timeline needs to be reconsidered. Also make sure the project’s executive sponsorship is solid.
“Is it a priority, who’s saying it’s a priority? It’s different if a CIO is saying it, vs. a manager of Rev Cycle,” she said.
Expect the implementation team to know the history. At Flywire, there’s a close relationship between sales and the implementation team to ensure that all of the right information is relayed, by the kickoff everyone should be on the same page.
“All of our sales people have heavy involvement leading up to a new project, and we rely on that dossier,” Lawless said.
Strong implementation teams don’t only support champions, they educate skeptics. Lawless asks one important question – who isn’t really on board yet? Sometimes, those parties aren’t active detractors, they just haven’t been properly educated on the project, perhaps because they won’t be users themselves or weren’t part of the purchase process.
“Who needs to be involved versus informed and aware?,” Lawless said. “Asking that question helps you do an analysis and make sure the right people are on board and the proper communications continue to go out.”
Look for regular communication – aimed at the right audience. Communicating the right messages to the right audiences is critical to a successful project. Don’t just give executives the project notes, Lawless says. Instead, she writes weekly summaries with high level diagrams to show progress – summarized in a sentence or two. Executives should be able to glance at these summaries and know where the project is – and what’s coming and expected next.
Your partner shouldn’t disappear after the implementation is over. Every software company has a customer success team to help with the ongoing relationship – but the best ones build that relationship from the start. We incorporate the success reps into the kickoff and the weekly project calls to ensure there are no balls dropped in the post-implementation transition period. And as a client’s needs or use of the platform expands, the technical experts of the implementation team are happy to step back in to assist. It’s not unusual for clients to continue to stay in touch with Lawless.
“We have the opportunity to build that relationship first,” she said, “and it doesn’t have to be a flash in a pan.”