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Another Epic Loss: Iasis Upgrades To Cerner

Posted on January 20, 2016 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

It’s too early to make a definitive claim, but I’m picking up some increasing evidence that Cerner is beginning to win out over Epic as some health systems upgrade. I’m not suggesting that Epic is ready to topple by any means, but it does seem that Cerner’s winning more potential matchups than they were before.

Want an example? Take the recent news that Iasis Healthcare will switch out its McKesson platform for the Cerner  Millenium EMR.  The 17-hospital system will spend $50 million to make the upgrade, which should be complete by March 2018. Most of the spending is ($35M+) is projected to come in fiscal 2016.

As I noted in an earlier post, Epic continues to grow at, well, an Epic pace. Reports suggest that Epic added 1,400 staffers last year, and the company seems likely to keep on pace in 2016. And as I previously noted, Epic software is either being used by or installed at 360 healthcare organizations in 10 countries, and also reported generating $1.8 billion in revenues for 2014.

But as the Iasis deal illustrates, Cerner is picking up some split-decision deals for what look like important reasons. One intriguing reddit post by captainnoob explains why his health system went with Cerner:

We whittled our choice down to 3 applications… McKesson Paragon, Epic, and Cerner. Those 3 were our forerunners as they were fully integrated and had modules to handle (almost) every service our facility provides. Ultimately the decision to go Cerner was based primarily on a combination of user input and cost of ownership.

  • User Input – We did numerous site visits with users from various clinical and managerial areas to talk workflow, ask questions such as how each product dealt with certain challenges we have already faced with McKesson, and view demonstrations in real-world conditions.
  • Cost of Ownership – Not just the cost of the product and implementation, but the cost of maintaining the product over 5-10 years.

I’m not sure why the competitive advantages Cerner has have shown up in higher relief recently. But my guess is that the wins Cerner is capturing have something to do with the psychology of EMR investment.

Going from a severely underpowered system — or none — to Epic involves taking a big leap of faith. How can you rationalize spending dozens or even hundreds of millions (or billions) on Epic? I’d argue that in essence, the ROI on that buy has been essentially unguessable. So the systems that have made a big Epic buy have had to justify their investment by pointing to big, still-intangible benefits like improved population health.

On the other hand, health systems that didn’t do Epic the first time, and have reasonably competent systems on board already, aren’t buying vision or reputation-ware. They aren’t pioneers, but instead, are looking for an economically and technically workable solution. In that circumstance, I know I’d be far more likely to go with a system with a lower total cost of ownership than an expensive Big Blue-style tool.

But these are just my theories. What do you think?  Is the investment tide turning toward Cerner, and why?

How Rampant is Double Documentation in EHRs?

Posted on January 18, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.


This tweet inspired me to talk about the problem of double documentation in an EHR. This is a massive problem for many organizations. Unfortunately, when you look at Many EHR workflows they do require double documentation. Sometimes this is thanks to regulations like meaningful use. Other times it’s medical billing requirements that necessitate double documentation. In other cases patient safety and quality of care requires something to be documented twice.

Of course, when I say that these things “necessitate” and “require” double documentation that might not be completely accurate. Medical billing, patient safety, and quality of care don’t require double documentation (with a few well known exceptions like verifying allergies). Instead, it’s the EHR workflow that requires something be documented twice in order for you to bill at the highest levels or in order for the EHR to later make the right information available to you at a later time as part of a patient safety or quality of care effort.

The reality is that many EHR workflows are constrained in a way that doctors and other medical staff our doing double work. If you’ve ever been in the doctors or nurses shoes, you know how irritating double entry can be in a work environment. On the other hand, purging the double work can be a great way to improve your employee’s work life.

Turns out that patients have the same problem. I don’t know how many thousands of people over the years have complained about having to fill out the same health forms over and over. Turns out that patients don’t like the double entry and more than the doctors and nurses.

This post also reminds me of my doctor friend who taught me about how the EMR perpetuates misinformation. When you start double entering something, that makes that issue twice as complex to track and update.

Personally, I’ve found two types of double documentation. The first is when poorly implemented processes require double documentation. If multiple departments within the same organization were communicating more effectively, then this wouldn’t happen. The fix to this problem is not easy, but can be solved if the right leader brings together the various departments to help everyone really understand and address the problem.

The second situation is where the EHR interface doesn’t allow a specific workflow and so the only way to satisfy your internal requirements is to double document. This is a much more challenging siuation to solve. The only solution I’ve found is to become deep partners with your EHR vendor so that you can effectively communicate the problem and convince them to add your requirement to their long list of EHR product enhancements. This can be even more effective if you’re connected to other customers of your EHR vendor and you can leverage them as a second voice for why the problem needs to be solved. No doubt there is power in numbers when influencing changes in an EHR.

If you’re dealing with the challenge of double documentation, what are you doing to combat it? What solutions are available to help make this less of an issue?

Will Data Dominate Healthcare Headlines in 2016?

Posted on January 15, 2016 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin is a true believer in #HealthIT, social media and empowered patients. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He currently leads the marketing efforts for @PatientPrompt, a Stericycle product. Colin’s Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung

The lethargy of the first few days after the holidays are the perfect time for contemplation of the year ahead. 2016, in my opinion, is shaping up to be an inflection point for healthcare:

  • Meaningful Use is entering its final stage (good riddance!)
  • The full impact of ICD-10 will begin to be felt this year
  • High deductible plans will cause strain on everyone’s bottom line
  • The US election promises to bring new political headwinds no matter who wins the White House

However there is one topic that I believe will dominate the headline this year – DATA and here’s why.

Data Breaches
IBM declared 2015 to be “The Year of Healthcare Security Breach”. According to their study, over 100 million healthcare records were compromised last year. Unfortunately with healthcare cybersecurity spending lagging behind other industries, health records will remain a relatively easy target for hackers in 2016. Until we bake data security into the design of our systems and processes, healthcare will continue to suffer from high-profile breaches and we will continue to read about them throughout the year.

Personal Health Data
Fitness trackers are everywhere. Market leader FitBit sold 4.8 million devices in the third quarter of 2015, almost double the number from the year before. At the recent Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas (#CES16) John Lynn reported that there could be as many as 700 health tracking devices currently on the market. The proliferation of these devices means that we are collecting exponentially more personal health data. As yet, this data has not been used by healthcare providers to assist with diagnosis or treatment of patients. In 2016 I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot about this data – who owns it, how secure it is (or isn’t), how it gets used and when it will be standardized.

Data Sharing (aka interoperability)
The key to unlocking the value of health data is allowing everyone within the healthcare ecosystem to share it in a frictionless manner. That means all doctors, nurses, clinics, hospitals, employers, payers, etc. should be able to easily send and receive patient health data. In 2016 we will be hearing about pioneering organizations who are making data interoperability a priority. We will also hear stories about patients and their employers rising up to tear down the walls of healthcare data silos. Finally, I believe that we will be hearing from a number of startups with unique solutions to the interoperability challenge.

Big Data
Collecting and sharing data is one thing. Deriving meaningful value from that data is a whole different challenge. Luckily that’s where #BigData efforts like IBM’s Watson come in. By tapping into the massive health data stores, Watson’s algorithms are assisting in diagnosis and helping physicians make treatment recommendations. It’s capable of making correlations that would be impossible for a person to do. As more data is made available to Watson, it gets “smarter”. In 2016 we will continue to see Watson and other healthcare #BigData efforts capture headlines as they find new connections between symptoms, disease and treatments.

2016 will be a very interesting year in healthcare. I am excited about the next 350 days. What are you excited about this year? What do you think the big headlines of 2016 will be?

Social Media 101 For Healthcare CXOs – Part 2

Posted on January 14, 2016 I Written By

David is a global digital healthcare leader that is focusing on the next era of healthcare IT.  Most recently David served as the CIO at an academic medical center where he was responsible for all technology related to the three missions of education, research and patient care. David has worked for various healthcare providers ranging from academic medical centers, non-profit, and the for-profit sectors. Subscribe to David's latest CXO Scene posts here.

This is a follow up to my last blog post regarding social media for CXOs.   I increased my action on social networking sites around four years ago when another new employment in Abu Dhabi forced a vast physical separation between me, my colleagues and critical emerging trends in healthcare IT back in the United States. I’ve been a daily Twitter and LinkedIn client from that point forward.

Social media provided the platform to build up solid associations and relationships with different influencers and pioneers in the industry. I also utilize social media to recruit talent, promote the organization’s achievements, speak internally with staff, and update everyone on rising trends.

Leaders who have a big department may not have the capacity to converse with each individual worker. I attempt to use social as one of the communication tool in addition to face-to-face time in order to share my thoughts about where we’re going from a strategy initiatives perspective. I also use the channel to share articles related to industry trends so people can keep up with what’s going on in the market.

My day by day online networking routine starts in the early mornings, before work, and after that continue in full drive following my workday. Social networking is not something you can simply say, ‘I’m going to go through an hour with it”,  You truly live it in small increments throughout your day.

Twitter as dynamic news feed
Twitter is currently my go-to news feed in the morning, and I utilize it to locate the most recent updates, news articles and critique on the healthcare business. Twitter is a decent place for individuals to share thoughts, or what’s at the forefront from the various industry thought leaders.  The majority of the Fortune 500 companies’ CEOs or executive groups are on Twitter sharing what’s happening to their businesses, and what’s happening with their organizations. This forum is a great place where you can get a genuine glimpse from the thought leader’s perspectives.  

I consider social important, however I don’t feel the need to post, or check in consistently.  On the off chance that I have a five-minute or 10-minute gap, I will examine what’s going on. I’ll check my notifications. However, I’m not always on my telephone checking the social stream.

LinkedIn for networking and career success
During the previous year, I began blogging, and I tried to routinely share thoughts on LinkedIn’s publishing platform. I appreciate the feedback I get on industry-specific topics and leadership. LinkedIn likewise allows me make and reinforce proficient connections for networking opportunities and professional success.

My Tips
Let me offer a few tips for CXOs who need to hone their social media methodologies from my experience.  First, CXOs ought to do all that they can to cooperate with their social connections. Use social to drive engagement, whether it’s with your associates, your staff or even your bosses. Listening is also key, and CXOs ought to grasp at the chance to act as a sounding boards for others. You truly need to listen and see what’s out there since many have alternate points of view that can expand your thinking on a topic.  

Lastly, CXOs have to invest the time to decide how social tools function best for them.   As I mentioned earlier, social can be an incredible tool for recruiting, department branding and personal branding. However, it takes exertion and work. It’s not something you can benefit from simply because you made a Twitter account and sat back waiting for people to follow you.

For me, social media is mostly a conduit for learning and a springboard to test ideas. Plus, it’s a platform to connect and engage with new thought leaders. If you are looking to jump start your learning and engagement, I definitely encourage everyone to get on a social media platform and start connecting and having discussions. Take the initial step to connect with others. You can start your initial discussion with me on the various social platforms I am using: Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

If you’d like to receive future health care C-Level executive posts by David in your inbox, you can subscribe to future Health Care CXO Scene posts here.

What is the CCA Credential?

Posted on January 13, 2016 I Written By

Erin Head is the Director of Health Information Management (HIM) and Quality for an acute care hospital in Titusville, FL. She is a renowned speaker on a variety of healthcare and social media topics and currently serves as CCHIIM Commissioner for AHIMA. She is heavily involved in many HIM and HIT initiatives such as information governance, health data analytics, and ICD-10 advocacy. She is active on social media on Twitter @ErinHead_HIM and LinkedIn. Subscribe to Erin's latest HIM Scene posts here.

There comes a point in an aspiring coder’s life when they are ready to earn a credential but might not have coding experience yet. This is when the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) credential comes in to play to provide the opportunity to prove the credential holder’s coding knowledge and competencies. The CCA credentialing exam is administered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and is one of three specific coding credentials offered by AHIMA. The other coding credentials through AHIMA are the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) and the Certified Coding Specialist- Physician based (CCS-P).

The CCA exam is offered to anyone with at least a high school diploma interested in coding. The content of the exam includes clinical classification systems, reimbursement methodologies, health records and data content, compliance, information technologies, and confidentiality and privacy (source: AHIMA). The largest portion of  questions on the exam covers the clinical classification systems which includes assigning codes and applying coding guidelines. Candidates prove they are able to apply coding methodologies for all levels of care including inpatient hospitals and physician offices.

The CCA credential is ideal for HIM and Coding students or new HIM professionals who are eager to earn a credential to add to their resume. While this credential proves competencies in the key coding domains, someone with this credential may not be qualified for a seasoned coder job posting which will typically require years of coding experience. However, the benefit of having this credential is that it shows the hiring manager that the applicant has had enough education and exposure to coding to be able to pass a thorough credentialing exam on the subject. Many students take this exam while completing coursework for HIM and Coding degrees to prepare themselves for the job market.

Medical coding is a career in high demand and has been recognized as a very important role in healthcare. Anyone interested in launching a career in coding will have to learn the ropes from the ground up. It is appropriate for CCA credentialed coders to look for entry level coding positions that will develop their coding skills and potentially lead to further specialization in the HIM field.

For more information on the CCA credential, see the AHIMA website.

Access additional resources for HIM credentials here: CCS, RHIA, RHIT.

If you’d like to receive future HIM posts by Erin in your inbox, you can subscribe to future HIM Scene posts here.

What at CES Requires Immediate Action from Hospitals?

Posted on January 11, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

As I process my week at CES (Formerly known as the consumer electronic show), I was blown away by all the amazing technology. This was true across a wide variety of spaces including drones, virtual reality (VR), 3D printing, smart homes, robotics, and yes digital health. 170,000 people at CES and over 20,000 products launched the week of CES means I missed a lot. However, I did get a chance to see a lot of the digital health solutions on display at CES. In fact, see most of my Digital Health coverage of CES on EMR and HIPAA.

While the event was enormous, the observation I’ve made most about digital health is that there was very little that was revolutionary when it comes to health care itself. Pretty much everything I saw was part of the evolution of digital health that we already understood. There was really no game changing technology, app, software, hardware or other solution that would dramatically change the course of healthcare.

In fact, if I were a hospital executive coming out of CES, I wouldn’t have any immediate action items on my list. Sure, there are a lot of fun technologies, but there really aren’t that many clinically relevant innovations at CES.

While I do think that’s the case today, I believe that’s going to change. If I were to compare digital health to the internet, we’re still working on compuserve or prodigy (Yes, those were the “internet” before their were web browsers). We don’t even have a great web browser developed and mobile computing wasn’t really even much of a thought. However, I see a lot of organizations starting to build something that innovative in healthcare. Plus, the building blocks are now in place that a unique entrepreneur will put together all these innovations in devices and data and create something that transforms healthcare.

Most hospitals aren’t entrepeneurs. So, the opportunities presented by digital health at CES aren’t that interesting. However, CES is a digital health entrepreneur’s playground. The opportunities to leverage technology to improve health are endless. The groundwork that’s been laid is amazing. It will just take a number of years for it to reach hospitals in a package that works for them.

Why Are We Still Talking About Cloud in Healthcare?

Posted on January 8, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Today’s post come from some tweets:


And here’s a great response from CIO David Chou:


I find it really interesting that he added mobile. Most hospitals realize that cloud has to be part of their IT strategy. Every hospital has some sort of cloud solution that they support. However, in the hospital EHR world, is there a viable cloud EHR option for hospitals?

On the other hand, mobile EHR is really lacking. Certainly there is a lot of mobile use in healthcare, but not for most of the enterprise applications.

I really hope that the tweet at the top is wrong. Healthcare needs to be doing a lot more than just cloud and mobile. Those should just be features and not trends. Here’s the unfortunate reality though:

Gathering Consensus for EMR Templates

Posted on January 6, 2016 I Written By

Erin Head is the Director of Health Information Management (HIM) and Quality for an acute care hospital in Titusville, FL. She is a renowned speaker on a variety of healthcare and social media topics and currently serves as CCHIIM Commissioner for AHIMA. She is heavily involved in many HIM and HIT initiatives such as information governance, health data analytics, and ICD-10 advocacy. She is active on social media on Twitter @ErinHead_HIM and LinkedIn. Subscribe to Erin's latest HIM Scene posts here.

By now, most of us have moved beyond the initial phases of implementing an EMR and into the optimization phase. Templates, ordersets, and documentation tools are constantly evolving with input from different departments and clinicians but we need to ensure a centralized EMR change review process is in place to prevent duplication, errors, note bloat, conflicting information, and unnecessary documentation.

Since there are many different uses and objectives for clinical documentation, we must collaborate with many different areas to reach a consensus on the way we capture clinical documentation to ensure compliance. In my experience, the best way to standardize EMR changes and enhancements is to develop a centralized process flow for all requests for changes to clinical documentation. This establishes the team that will provide diverse perspectives and will review and sign-off on all requests before they are built and implemented.

Sometimes we get approached by physicians or other clinicians asking for changes that would be a simple build in the EMR but we must run this and all requests through the change approval process to prevent any potential downstream affects. Even when requests are based on regulatory changes, it’s important to follow the process flow so that all interested parties are aware of the changes and are meeting compliance in all areas.

From the coding and CDI perspective, we need to capture more detail in the documentation to properly assign ICD-10 codes. Adjusting EMR templates to help physicians with descriptive diagnoses is vital to capture all of the detail at the point of entry and time of treatment instead of asking for clarification later. At my facility, we have found success with having our CDI specialists educating the physicians on the diagnosis guidelines and appropriate EMR template use.

The number one objective should be to ensure the EMR captures the clinical story of each patient to provide the best possible treatment and utilization of resources. Achieving consensus on templates can sometimes feel like herding cats but doing it right the first time is important. We must maintain a governance process of clinical documentation to ensure all objectives are properly met.

If you’d like to receive future HIM posts by Erin in your inbox, you can subscribe to future HIM Scene posts here.

Epic EMR Costs Drag Down Finances At Brigham and Women’s

Posted on January 4, 2016 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

It’s worth noting from the outset that many healthcare organizations have had it worse. Epic installs have blown health system budgets sky high, sapped their profitability and undermined their credit ratings. So upon hearing the following you may not be tempted to play a sad song on the world’s smallest violin.

Still, it’s worth noting that in part due to the costs of its Epic implementation, the venerable Brigham and Women’s Hospital will fall $53 million short of its expected $121 million surplus for fiscal 2015. According to news reports, this is the first time Brigham and Women’s has missed such a target in more than 10 years.

The hospital’s president, Betsy Nabel, MD, noted that the Brigham and Women’s install is part of a massive $1.2 billion Epic implementation cutting across the 10 hospitals of the Partners HealthCare system. The broader Partners implementation is proving to be a budget-buster as well. Three years ago, Partners went into the effort with a comparatively scant $600 million budget.

Brigham and Women’s — along with nearby Dana-Farber Cancer Institute — hired 1,500 extra staff members to help with the Epic go-live, which took place in June of this year. The Brigham had budgeted $47 million during the previous year to pay for the transition costs.

But the transition cost $27 million more than expected. For one thing, once they began using the EMR, Brigham and Women’s staff apparently undercoded a bunch of visits, lowering patient care revenues.  The hospital also gave up some revenue voluntarily, by cutting back on patient volume during the first months post-go-live to ease the transition.

The rest of the shortfall came from lost patient volume in February due to heavy snowfall, as well as paying more than it had expected into its employee pension fund.

A few words of commentary seem called-for here.

* It’s not clear to me why the staffers made so many coding mistakes going out the door with the new install. I’ve written about perhaps a dozen Epic installs in depth, and have studied many more, and a rash of post-implementation coding mistakes doesn’t seem to be common. Am I missing something, or were the staffers undertrained?

* News reports suggest that nearly $14 million of the unexpected costs came from the planned reductions in patient care volume. It seems to me that if Brigham and Women’s execs planned for that shortfall, they’d know how much it was going to be. Why all of the surprise already?

By the way, the shortfall apparently kicked up so much dust that Dame Judy personally flew out to Boston to meet with the hospital leadership to head off PR trouble offer guidance.

Following the meeting, hospital president Dr. Betsy Nabel told a town hall-style gathering that all is well — that the coding problems will pass and revenue levels reestablish themselves. And after all, she noted, the Epic install is already working well enough that there’s been no increase in medical errors at the hospital.

Well, that’s a start at least. Keeping medical errors from getting worse is certainly a good thing. But for its sake, let’s hope the Brigham expects more than that from Epic!

HCA Builds Capacity For Resilience Into EMR Rollout Training

Posted on January 1, 2016 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

A few weeks ago, Hospital Corporation of America had a rather substantial EMR outage. The outage, which was caused by a problem with storage hardware, lasted about 24 hours. It largely affected a portion of the 50 hospitals it operates in Florida, but some of the 115 HCA hospitals located outside Florida were impacted too.

Though large EMR outages are worth noting, my purpose in writing this blog is not to slam HCA. Actually, HCA staffers seem to have been prepared for the worst. In fact, according to an article from the Healthcare Financial Management Association, HCA built resiliency into its EMR rollout and operations process. And that is interesting indeed.

Hiring for talent and attitude

To roll out an EMR across its large network of hospitals, HCA leaders settled on an unusual strategy.  Rather than sign up a cadre of pure HIT specialists, HCA decided to hire professionals across a wide variety of disciplines.

As it turned out, all of the 120 EMR implementation specialists it hired were under age 30, with strong organizing, communication and collaborative skills. Their degrees included English, marketing and biomedical science.

Training for rollout

To train the newly-blessed specialists, HCA created hCare University. The new team members got four to six weeks of training, including both hands-on and classroom education, in vital skills such as working with clinicians and managing projects.

hCare University also taught the implementation specialists HCA’s EMR methodology, refining the approach — and how it taught that approach — over time. HCA trialed its methods at one pilot hospital, then two more, and eventually rolled it out to 20 to 40 hospitals at a time, HFMA reports.

Stressing inclusiveness and communication

As the rollout progressed, hCare teachers and system leaders continued to hammer home the importance of effective communication — and just as importantly, making sure that clinicians felt included.

“We probably spent as much, if not more, time on the people aspects as on the technology,” said consultant Mary Mirabelli, who oversaw the rollout, as well as HCA’s Stage 1 Meaningful Use efforts. “Because you’re expecting clinicians to exhibit new behaviors and embrace a system that is sometimes not well designed for their needs, you have to figure out ways to give them control and involve them in decision making.”

Now, I admit to being a bit biased, as I’m the kind of liberal arts jack-of-all-trades HCA relied on to supervise its rollout. And I want to emphasize that I’m not suggesting that traditional HIT hires are per-se inflexible!

That being said (having declared my prejudices), I would tend to believe that HCA is telling the truth when it asserts that staff confidently worked around the outage, despite its length and breadth.  I would assert that mixing in people whose primary skills are “soft” with HIT pros is an excellent way to support a resilient attitude when EMR problelms emerge.

Investing in people who can coordinate with all sides is actually good for HIT staffers. After all, doesn’t it benefit the HIT department when other folks are out there building good will, fostering cooperation and (in hopefully rare cases) minimizing damage to morale when snags or outages occur?