It may seem like semantics, but if you think “installed” and “implemented” hospital software are essentially the same, you could be heading for disaster.

Understanding their correct definitions can save you a lot of headaches – with your hospital software vendor as well as your boss.

There are many ways to describe the difference, but the simplest is this:

  • Installation gets the item working.
  • Implementation gets it working for your hospital’s needs.


It’s the difference between putting something in place and putting it into practice.

Most hospitals spend the lion’s share of time and money on installation, largely ignoring the human factors which ultimately can make the project a success or a dismal embarrassment. Too often project managers are only focused on the technology, and vendors are as well.

When everything ends at “go live,” often what ensues is disaster, because the people and the processes being impacted were not taken into account.

Real hospital implementation requires planning, which begins well before launch and continues far beyond it.  Implementation should start with redefining the term itself in the minds of your people to get them ready for change well before the launch date.

An implementation plan should be a project blueprint that includes installation as just one, albeit fundamental, component of success.   It provides post-launch training and constant measurement to determine whether the plan must be re-calibrated to meet institutional goals and sustain improvement. If it doesn’t also include getting your people to buy in and use the new technology and processes, then it’s not implementation.

In the case of hospital automation software, the people and the tasks they do are a fundamental consideration. That’s really where the planning starts. It requires an audit, best conducted by experts with real hospital experience, who can compare existing processes against best practice standards.

That hospital experience becomes even more valuable when it comes to changing the “we’ve always done it this way” culture to “what best for the patient.

Most established hospital technology vendors understand this, but newer firms may useinstall and implement interchangeably in their proposals and presentations. It’s up to you, as the purchaser, to understand what you are getting, and more importantly, what you need to get.

Otherwise, the one thing you won’t be getting is Return on Investment and six months from now you may be blaming a perfectly good product when it should be people getting the blame – including you.


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