Independent Health System Fuels Growth and Quality with MEDITECH Expanse
Memorial Healthcare moves from their aging Magic EHR and Allscripts Ambulatory systems to leverage a unified Expanse solution as an enabler for operational excellence.
Memorial Healthcare of Owosso, Michigan is a not-for-profit hospital governed by an independent Board of Trustees. In 2015, the strategic decision to remain independent was made in the face of several offers from major health systems and an ongoing trend for smaller health systems to join forces with large networks.
Memorial Healthcare’s leadership felt their local community was best served by building up specialty areas for neurology, orthopedics, and expanding community wellness – and delivering the highest quality care possible. It was a big bet that needed technology to enable quality care and growth.
Around that same time, Thomas Kurtz, Ph.D, came to Memorial Healthcare as Vice President of Information Services and Business Development and Chief Information Officer. His focus on business development and the improvement of patient care through technology adoption meant that one of his first projects was the replacement of their aging healthcare information systems, MEDITECH Magic, and their Ambulatory system, Allscripts.
“We needed to have a singular system from the acute side to the ambulatory side, for better seamless patient care between the two systems,” said Kurtz. We were looking at Epic as well as MEDITECH. We ultimately chose to stay with MEDITECH and implement Expanse due to the fact that Expanse could achieve a singular solution from ambulatory to acute and improved data workflow and analytics. We could accomplish all the items on our strategic plan without a cost that would be burdensome for us. And, we could retain our independence without relying on another healthcare system for an EHR or limit ourselves to working with only one partner.”
“We interviewed several consulting groups that were recommended by the MEDITECH READY program. CereCore stood apart from the very first meeting. Where other firms would make statements about having implemented Expanse a hundred times, the CereCore team pointed out all of the issues we would run into, what the pain points were, and how they would partner with us to resolve them."
"Unlike any other firm that I’ve worked with in the past, CereCore’s history as a hospital operator gave them an unmistakable vested interest in enabling patient care and always positioned themselves as working on our behalf. They were providing assistance and guidance even before contracts were executed."
How We Helped
Memorial Healthcare needed help taking on a large-scale implementation from an expertise approach, and manpower perspective. CereCore partnered with Memorial Healthcare on a singular go-live where all clinics and the hospital changed over to the new system simultaneously. This 11-month project included assessment, workflow and system design, data migration, reporting, testing, and consulting across multiple healthcare disciplines to support acute, ambulatory, oncology, surgery, and pharmacy.
CereCore took a multi-disciplinary approach to the project – including facilitating meetings with multiple departments, MEDITECH implementation specialists, and Memorial Healthcare Leadership to ensure cross-department communication and effective workflow design – design that more fully utilized the MEDITECH functionality available in the EXPANSE platform. The result was a system design specific to the outcomes Memorial Healthcare needed.
CereCore’s team was onsite in masses to deliver dozens of knowledgeable support staff for At-the-Elbow provider support for go-live. A go-live at this scale touches every user and employee and the smooth changeover was met with positivity from the Memorial Healthcare team. “People often don’t recognize the sheer amount of effort that goes into bringing a new system live, not to mention replacing two systems. Our singular go-live was a success,” said Kurtz.
Evidence to the successful project is the amount of growth that Memorial Healthcare supported in the midst of the implementation and directly after. “When I signed the MEDITECH contracts we had 62 providers. We have 100 today, and since then, we’ve employed our hospitalist group which is an additional 10 providers, 3 neurologists, a pulmonologist and multiple family practice providers."
Memorial Healthcare’s strong focus on quality and safety has not only brought them tremendous growth, but recognition. They are the only hospital in mid-Michigan to earn both an “A” rating from The Leapfrog Group and a 4-Star rating from CMS.
Memorial Healthcare achieved their goals including a single EMR across their organization and stronger reporting capabilities and doing so with financial stewardship in mind.
“The immediate impact is that we are now able to respond to our needs more proactively and quicker. Our urgent care needed a report of patient visits to ensure payments were received per the fee schedule. This was a report we’ve never had the ability to do before and we were able to produce it in five minutes.”
Kurtz is quick to point out that no implementation is perfect or truly complete. There are always regulatory changes and further improvements to be made. His advice for leaders in similar positions?
“The keys to success include testing, testing, testing, parallel testing, and integrated testing. This testing opened our eyes to a lot of issues. At-the-elbow support was also extremely important and the involvement from our internal teams was instrumental in ensuring we had all core teams engaged within the project.”
Of the things he would do differently, Kurtz says “I would have taken more time at the front end of the project to look at our workflows to plan out the implementation and how we wanted to do things differently. You tend to focus initially on the acute build, but it really needs to be viewed globally. For instance, our lab is within the hospital, but we also have outpatient laboratory locations. You also need to avoid impacting other teams without fully understanding how that impacts the delivery of the care that they’re providing.
One piece of advice I would give to a hospital leader in a similar position is to take your time to do your pre-work. Dedicate time to complete an organizational process mapping which will identify gaps and current state metrics.”
Another key takeaway was maintaining consistent physician involvement. “You need to figure out a way to retain physician involvement throughout the duration of the project. We had heavy involvement in the beginning and the end, but where we really needed it was right in the middle.”
Overall, Memorial Healthcare’s go-live of MEDITECH EXPANSE was a leap forward for their organization and operational capabilities. They achieved their goal of a seamless system for medical records and care management across acute and satellite offices in record time. More importantly, the new systems were met with strong adoption and enthusiasm across the organization, which is the mark of a well-designed solution. “The CereCore team was an invaluable resource to our project. From start to finish, CereCore provided the expertise, insight and guidance to assist us with a successful, on time go-live.”
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