Rich Temple, VP & CIO, Deborah Heart and Lung Center
Electronic health records (EHRs) have been in place in medical facilities for a number of years and are widely used by physicians and all other stakeholders to work efficiently. Deborah Heart and Lung Center is no exception. In 2017, we made a decision to replace our legacy EHR and the first challenge for us was to bring everybody on-board with why we wanted to do this and what we needed from them to make the new system a success. We adopted the MEDITECH platform, and while implementing the system, we had to ensure that it streamlined the processes for physicians and all other employees at the hospital. What this system also enabled was to bring the inpatient and ambulatory services on to the same platform while providing added support to physicians in being compliant with new regulations and quality reporting. Compliance with these requirements was powered by business intelligence and analytics tools that provided that extra visibility into their data, alongside offering quality metrics. The EHR implementation, although from the same vendor as before, was more like a full system replacement, with a brand new system that was relevant, current, and provided more cutting-edge tools than the old system.
It was a journey indeed, but a fruitful one, in which we involved the physicians out of the gate. They played a significant role in evaluating various systems and selecting the right one. We also formulated the project governance structure with a focus on keeping the physicians in the loop, creating a committee called PAC (Physicians Advisory Committee) to analyze and deliberate the issues and processes pertinent to the system. What this further assured is that it kept everyone engaged and accountable while taking into consideration the physicians’ concerns and addressing them effectively. We also provided a robust training program for physicians, which gave them an extra ‘oomph’ of support while navigating through the system.
"From a leadership perspective, I strongly believe that acquiring information before plunging into any project is most vital, especially from reliable sources like consultancies, our vendors and third-parties"
In addition to the assistance and expertise from the team of physicians, we also made extensive use of two major consulting firms who offered project management and subject matter expertise on the clinical, financial, and revenue cycle aspects of the project. Using consulting services made the go-live much easier as it allowed physicians and other staff members to be a part of the implementation process without having to compromise on their patient responsibilities.
The new MEDITECH platform went live on December 1st, 2017, and it came with many benefits. One significant advantage was both our hospital services and the outpatient clinic were on the same system which allowed for a seamless and instant sharing of vital information. The system also helped us generate more revenue by streamlining all our processes and systems under a single canopy. Most of all, the system we adopted is contemporary with regular upgrades to reflect the rapidly-evolving healthcare landscape. The components of business intelligence and analytics have been an add-on bonus for us and were offered via a standalone tool called BCA (Business and Clinical Analytics). This ensures we can share relevant clinical data more efficiently across systems, between hospitals and physicians, to assure proper continuity of care to all patients. This has also enabled us to have better clarity on the most current information on our charge and payment volumes, as well as our success in meeting key regulatory and strategic initiatives. The system also enables to analyze unique business strategies within the hospital; for instance, a project that we initiated to discharge patients by 10 a.m. to reduce their wait time and increase their level of satisfaction with their entire inpatient experience. These observations help us to monitor the success of this project and let us know our performance quality and thus identify the gaps we need to improve on. We also came up with a multitude of dashboards, which add wisdom to the rendering of information and provides actionable data for carrying out daily activities intelligently.
As part of my role as the VP & CIO, it falls on my shoulders to ensure everyone is engaged and contributing according to their positions in the hospital. Proper training is essential, training is unexpectedly expensive and an organization must also be mindful of budgetary imperatives. I firmly believe that acquiring information before plunging into any project is most vital, especially from reliable sources like consultancies, our vendors, and third-parties. We also need to assess every initiative we take on to ensure we get the most value out of the investments we make, while keeping a close eye on the budget. Transparency and honesty is the key to the success of every endeavor.
As a servant-leader, I strive to bring a vision to the organization of innovation and out-of-the-box approaches, balanced with pragmatism. I also strive to work with my team members and others to help them realize their fullest capabilities. I envision our organization becoming a shining star in the healthcare space by offering the best patient care experience in a cost-effective manner, with technology judiciously applied to move us forward. I wish to positively touch peoples’ lives in a way that ensures they receive the care they need, at all times.