Last week, I wrote about the value of site visits as a way to learn from others. Fresh off the annual Epic User Group Meeting (UGM), I’ll call it a site visit on steroids. There are over 10,000 attendees, 100’s of educational sessions presented by users, direct access to Epic staff, and plenty of networking time; you see what I mean?
This was the first year it made sense to invite my executive colleagues from UMHS to attend. Our core Electronic Health Record is now in place, our executives need to look to the future: what else is possible with the product we already have, what new functionality is planned for future upgrades, and what other Epic users are doing.
Three UMHS executives answered my call and they were glad they did: the Hospitals and Health Centers CEO, and the executive directors of the children and women’s hospital and the adult hospital. We will debrief as a group soon about what they saw and heard, and to explore what functionality we should prioritize next. It’s no surprise there is great interest in operational dashboards. We will figure out what we can develop with the tools we already have.
Our UMHS team showed up ready to learn, and to teach. We led five education sessions on topics that included e-prescribing for controlled substances, pharmacy documentation, self-developed patient education tools, registries, and our integrated build approach.
I’m an extrovert and an extreme networker; I think UGM is very valuable. I catch up with colleagues who have solved problems we’re having, implemented modules we haven’t, or are struggling with the same issues. We have a lot of experience, so I freely offer advice to my colleagues.
There are the open, honest CIO roundtable discussions with Epic leadership. We challenge Epic when they say something is easy to implement and takes only limited time and resources. We ask Epic to share best practices they’ve seen to give us all a running start on something new.
At a joint CEO-CIO session with Epic CEO, Judy Faulkner, we were asked to give feedback on licensing approaches for affiliates, we examined what is in our best interest. In the CIO advisory council with Epic president, Carl Dvorak, he asked us to consider changes to the upgrade schedule. We discussed the impacts on the timelines and work effort to get new functionality sooner. As customers, we need to be willing to participate in advisory councils to help shape product futures.
And then there is the up close and personal time you get with UMHS colleagues as you travel together: sharing a meal, sharing rides, sitting together at a session. It’s an invaluable chance to get to better know the people you work with.
Last but not least, one of the favorite sessions – Cool Stuff Ahead. This is where Carl and a team of Epic experts tell us about what’s coming in future releases: improvements for patient engagement, population health, real-time location systems (RTLS) integration, capacity management, mobility, research, and more.
Health care organizations are making significant investments in their EHR. It is worth our time and energy to attend user group meetings such as this, learn from our colleagues, engage with vendor experts and help shape our future – all with the goal of improving health care for the patients and families we serve.