Guardian of patient data. Steward of IT budgets. Advocate for care teams. Liaison between technology and healthcare operations. You wear all of these hats and more as a healthcare IT leader. Juggling a multitude of roles and keeping healthcare IT operations running smoothly requires expertise that bridges technical, clinical, and financial disciplines.
In the 2021 online survey* of healthcare executives, all College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) members, responses indicated the use of managed services is one of the fastest growing models used by healthcare CIOs to deliver valuable IT services to their organization. Yet in the prior 2020 survey, 61% of respondents indicated they didn’t get the value they expected in over half of their projects with IT service providers.
Healthcare CIOs have a growing list of reasons why using a healthcare managed IT services partner could be the right model to help support day-to-day IT functions. And while the marketplace is full of quality IT services providers, the complexity of healthcare operations adds to the list of considerations when evaluating a partner.
The qualifications that make a difference in the value a managed IT services partner provides to a healthcare organization boil down to two things: a strong understanding of healthcare operations and a focus on patients. Here we examine these qualities as explained by team members who have deep backgrounds in healthcare as well as IT services.
An eye for patient safety and the legal health record
“Because of my background and over 20 years of Health Information Management experience, I understand the importance of a complete and accurate legal health record. As a manager of CereCore Support, we understand the impact the legal health record has on patients and clinicians,” says Gail Stefanski, Manager of Application Managed Services.
The legal health record is comprised of so many moving parts with dependencies on source system documentation, which trickles all the way down to coding and billing a patient.
Clinicians depend on the accuracy of a patient’s health record as they deliver care throughout the patient’s hospital stay and beyond. Timely and accurate release of information is critical for providers to treat their patients.
That’s why, from an IT perspective, it is crucial that systems are monitored, functioning, and readily available when the patient health records are being accessed.
Bottom line: Clinical knowledge paired with technology expertise supports quality patient care.
Enabling ideal clinical workflows during technology implementations
A partner who advocates for nurses, physicians, and other hospital staff is critical to improving clinician and physician satisfaction.
“I am registered nurse and really understand what it is like when you are trying to take care of a patient but cannot because of a technical issue,” says Jared Talbot, BSN, MSN, RN, Epic Architect.
During the construction of a new NICU department, we were setting up printer mapping for several print jobs in Epic. The problem was the physical location for a label printer was not close to the nurses station and made the workflow rather awkward.
“I approached the NICU nurse manager and I mentioned how the proposed location for the label printer wasn’t helpful for a nurse’s workflow. She gave me an awkward glance and she was probably thinking 'how does he know that?’ I simply said, ‘I’m actually a nurse informaticist, so I know what it’s like to be a floor nurse. I used to do adult critical care and hospice,’” says Talbot.
This conversation about the location of a label printer may seem small and perhaps insignificant, but relocating this printer saved nurses steps.
“Any barriers were broken down and she began to trust me – not only as a very capable informaticist, but also a nurse advocate that promotes ideal workflows for nurses, physicians and care workers,” says Talbot.
Printing can be time-consuming for clinical and technical teams. For another facility, we helped them setup virtual local printing through Epic Hyperspace, which was a great solution that saved time and money.
The pursuit of cost-effective, integrated care solutions
An IT services partner with healthcare operations experience will focus on patient care and not the technology alone. For example, well-documented workflows and configurations are important, but it is more important for experts to have the knowledge of how to build and configure technology tools that provide better, more accurate information to clinicians and physicians when they need it. The main goal of a clinical workflow or documentation is to help ensure that a patient’s history and information is available and can be used as part of an integrated care plan.
“Early in my career I worked in psychiatric medicine and that provided me with the active listening skills needed to best understand my clients’ needs and situation. I am able to listen before proposing solutions or jumping into a ‘fix the problem mode.’ Ultimately, this helps the client to be better understood and better served,” says Bob Gronberg, Sr. Director, MEDITECH Professional Services.
“I also know what it’s like to work in healthcare IT leadership. I have helped prioritize hospital budgets and had to balance the need to find cost effective solutions to solve problems. When I am proposing solutions to potential clients, it means being a responsible financial steward. I know that funds used for one IT project could also be used to meet patient needs elsewhere in the organization. It is important to be sure you are proposing the right solution, at the right time, and for the right cost,” says Gronberg.
Bottom line: Not technology for technology’s sake alone, but remain focused on technology solutions that support patient care.
Helping expedite patient care
Mobile apps and patient portals have transformed how clinicians and patients interact with healthcare technology. Helping our clients and their patients use these technologies successfully is where our expertise comes into play.
“My goal has always been to have the patient at the heart of what I do and to get our healthcare workers out of the computer and back to the bedside. I understand urgency and using EHRs, because I was a nurse for 34 years, working mainly in critical care,” says Kerry Barker, RN BSN
Consulting Clinical Analyst, Epic Services.
Clinical mobile technology brings powerful time-saving features to care providers. Our team was working with a client to build out Epic Rover for nursing and respiratory therapists. We recognized how the therapists are constantly on the go. Respiratory therapy saw how the Rover app really improved workflow for nursing and they wanted to have that same ability. Now they scan their respiratory treatments on the MAR and document workflows from a mobile phone rather than search for an open computer to chart.
Today, nurses and patients are using technology – together. For example, a nurse from a clinic placed an incident ticket about a patient not being able to schedule a follow up appointment through Epic MyChart.
“When I checked the system and reached back out to the nurse, I knew how the nurse might feel – not knowing all the technical stuff on how it works. She trusted me to research the issue and call the patient back myself, walking the patient through how to schedule an appointment through the patient portal,” says Barker.
Bottom line: Understanding the intersection of patient care and technology in a way that gives time back and makes care easier leads to ideal outcomes.
The bigger picture of how applications work together – financial and clinical
“Clients like my background because I ‘speak their language’ and know the requirements of financial reporting and how all the applications work together,” says Lisa Lambrecht, Senior Consultant, MEDITECH Professional Services. “I started my healthcare career as a Director of Accounting and advanced to the Controller position. While in that position I implemented all of the financial applications of MEDITECH.”
This first-hand experience as a hospital operator who has managed through technology implementations translates into insights and real-world context that helps decision makers better understand the pros and cons of system configuration.
In addition, operations experience paired with in-depth knowledge of how to optimize systems helps drive operational efficiency by streamlining revenue recognition and billing processes, more closely aligning financial reporting with auditor and board requirements, and eliminating duplication of data for reporting.
Plus, expertise shared means analysts on the team deepen their knowledge of MEDITECH, too. Tap into our educational resources when you subscribe to the CereCore MEDITECH Resource library and access expert tips and demos highlighting features deployed in the CereCore Expanse system (Provider's Medical Center).
Bottom line: Having the big picture in mind can save time and money whether managing the day-to-day operations or a large implementation.
* 2021 data is based on responses of 50 CIOs in April 2021.
Vice President, Business Development, CereCore
Vice President, Business Development, CereCore