What upgrade?

This past weekend we did another major upgrade – this time the ambulatory EMR. It went extremely well and was met with smiles and kudos from our senior executives. While we’ve done several major upgrades canstockphoto13469755recently including revenue cycle and acute EMR, this one had a lot of eyes on it. Those same senior executives have been rightly concerned about the performance of our ambulatory EMR while we worked through some significant issues during the past several months, including software, hardware and infrastructure. So, kudos to the team that turned the corner on those issues and pulled off a very successful upgrade with minimal issues and disruption to our physician providers and operational practice teams.

We called our 200+ physician practices before the upgrade to make sure they felt prepared.  A few actually said “what upgrade?”. Apparently they had not read the any of the advance communications. So we worked with each of them to make sure they were ready.

The command center was open all week and will close early today as we have fewer and fewer calls.  Over 62% of the reported issues had been resolved as of late yesterday. Our users gained a lot of new functions and features which has made everyone happy.

In addition to a strong and collaborative relationship with your vendor, here are some critical success factors for any major software upgrade: Continue reading

IT governance – basic but critical

The first three months of my interim CIO engagement at University Hospitals has flown by. I’m fortunate to be working with a very talented IT team and we recognize there is always room for improvement. We canstockphoto22767750have already made some very positive changes and improvements. We are tightening up how we manage and monitor the production environment to reduce preventable incidents. We do a root cause analysis on every major incident and review them as a team at our bi-weekly leadership meeting, tracking all subsequent action items. We are making progress on numerous major priority projects and there have been several system upgrades and go lives during this period. We are doing detailed planning for our new hospital integration efforts. We are launching our visual management board and leadership huddle next week as part of our lean efforts. And we have re-established an executive level IT steering committee addressing the critical need for IT governance.

Our third IT steering committee will be Monday evening. Our CEO and other senior executives are engaged – exactly what we needed. They are developing a deeper understanding of our current work and the many new requests we have received since this year’s budget was approved. We have reviewed with Continue reading

Apps aren’t enough

Health care organizations are focused on increasing patient engagement and improving patient satisfaction. As consumers, our expectations are high. We are used to doing many tasks online with an canstockphoto29459472end to end digital experience in the retail, financial, and travel industries. Health care is clearly playing catch up.

But can we blame software limitations and hope for technology solutions when talking about what we need to do? I’ll be the first to say there is probably an app for any problem. But, it’s not just about technology.

Health care is a high touch business for clinicians and support staff. The processes and workflows have to work hand in hand with technology. Think about your experience seeing your doctor. Making the appointment, checking in, checking out, handling your co-pay, and getting referrals scheduled should be simple, consistent, and most importantly patient centered.

Culture is critical. Every person you encounter in your health care journey should have your best interest and satisfaction as their priority. After all, we care for people. It’s all about basic customer service, it’s not rocket science. Continue reading

Innovation – who owns it?

I’m back from HIMSS16 and the sensory overload of Vegas. Like every year, the conference and exhibit hall was filled with new vendors and products. Trying to find the really new, new that is a breakout canstockphoto19831405innovation can be a challenge with thousands of exhibitors. I expect to soon read many post HIMSS articles that will highlight the new innovations and the promising start-ups there.

The HX360 program was co-developed by HIMSS and AVIA, an innovation partner for more than 20 forward-leaning health systems. The program is an attempt to carve out during HIMSS an innovation focus for senior leaders. This year I attended the one-day HX360 Executive Program.

The highlight for me was a panel of CEOs and Chief Innovation Officers from leading health care organizations – Providence Health and Services, Dignity Health, Christiana Care and University Health Network in Canada. The panelists were forward thinking health care leaders and organizations. Continue reading

Evolving into the future

In August 2014, I posted “Beyond the core Electronic Health Record” about our primary integrated vendor strategy at UMHS. We have already implemented the core suite of products from Epic. We continue to be committed to this strategy and it continues to serve us well.

We are in what we call MiChart Stage 4 which includes radiology, home care, and part of cardiology. We had agreed that anesthesiology and transplant would be in a future stage. As we plan for those future stages, we’re also considering ambulatory pharmacy, care management, infection control and other specialty areas.

Outside these major stages, there are ongoing needs to support strategic initiatives in capacity management, patient engagement and telehealth. We are planning for the Bed Management module to replace an existing third party product, Bedside in the hospitals that don’t already have a solution, and telehealth functions.

We are also discussing another critical area where Epic is building out functionality. Continue reading

STEM for the holidays

GiftboxI keep my distance from the huge crowds shopping on Black Friday. And Cyber Monday comes way too soon for me. I usually wait until mid-December to actually do any gift shopping. The one gift I decide on early is the “perfect” book for everyone on my leadership team – a tradition I’ve had since my first CIO position. But I know that most people try to get a very early start.

I am committed to encouraging girls to pursue careers in STEM fields. I have spoken on women and technology to several different audiences over the past year, including keynoting at the Michigan Council of Women in Technology annual Executive Connection Summit in May. One part of my talk includes ideas for gifts starting with the very littlest ones through high school to encourage an interest in technology.

If you have any children on your gift list this year, consider some of these ideas that my staff specialist, Chris Greene, and I have found as we gathered information for the talk this past year: Continue reading

Great techspectations: can we find a way?

I have lived and worked in Ann Arbor for 3 years now and have made many trips to Lansing and Detroit for meetings and events. In Lansing I go to about 5 different locations: my car is almost on auto pilot. I have been to various locations in downtown Detroit and the surrounding suburbs. What would I do without the GPS technology we all take for granted?

I have a built-in navigation system in my car, but you probably have the same ability with a map app on your smart phone. My daughter warns me though, to not depend on GPS when you are down to the last mile; “Use your eyes,” she says. That’s what I do when I’m going to the Ren Center in downtown Detroit. My biggest concern then is that I will be in the wrong lane and end up taking the tunnel to Windsor, Canada. You can’t just do a U-turn on the other side; you need your passport with you. Unless I carry my passport in my car, it would be a major delay.  I have heard about people who missed events by an hour just by making that mistake.

And there is a lot of road construction with detours on my way out of Detroit these days. I must rely on my GPS to adjust my route and use my eyes to keep track of the detour signs.

Do you remember those thick spiral-bound books of maps for a metro area?  You needed a magnifying glass to read it. You also needed a co-pilot in the passenger seat. A real challenge if driving alone at night!

I remember when we stuck add-on Garmin devices to our inside windshield or tried to somehow balance them on the console.

I still sometimes use the online Mapquest or Google Maps service to print out the directions in advance; sometimes I want the big picture visual with me.

But the convenience of a built-in navigation system with voice directions in my 2008 car is far better. I rely on it whenever I’m headed someplace new.

But what about when you are inside a large building complex?  Wayfinding in hospitals is a challenge for both patients and staff, especially in large academic medical centers with old and new buildings connected on a sprawling campus. Continue reading

Spreading hope, 21st century style

1 in 9 people in the U.S have used it. Its reach extends to 236 countries. In 2014, 2.2 million new people joined communities. 300,000 people visit every day. More than 72,000 families created a website in 2014. Any idea what I’m referring to?

Those are some of the key stats for a social media tool called CaringBridge. It works like this: patients set up a private and secure website where they post journal entries about their health journey. They invite close family and friends to join their site, creating a caring and supportive community. Family and friends are kept up to date and they can post encouraging and supportive messages. It takes the communication burden off the patient and their immediate family so they can focus on healing.  It replaces the black hole of not knowing for those who care and worry.

I first learned about CaringBridge many years ago when I was the CIO at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. We jointly sponsored it with Dana Farber Cancer Institute and encouraged our cancer patients to use it. At the University of Michigan Health System, we make patients and families aware of this service and another similar one called CarePages.

For all my years working in health care and using the main social media platforms, I’m finally experiencing firsthand the healing power of CaringBridge.  Continue reading

Back to the future

It’s back to school time! College bound students and their parents are having a lot of mixed feelings. There’s the excitement and anxiety of starting something new, maybe far from home. And for the parents, the goodbyes and the reality of being an empty nester may just be sinking in. Parents sense that they’ve done their job and now, it’s launch time.

There are questions college students hate to hear – “what are you planning to study?”; “what do you want to do when you graduate?”  They need to find their passion first. And who knows what kind of jobs will be there come graduation time.

Many of today’s jobs didn’t even exist 5 or 10 years ago. If you are on social media at all, you will see tons of job opportunities for just that – social media experts. But it’s just over a decade for two of the giants – Facebook and LinkedIn, and less than 10 years for Twitter.

And at the intersection of cars and technology, do you suppose the people working at Mcity thought 10 years ago that this is what they’d be doing? Continue reading

Investing in the success of others

What do @TheWomenRising, @digitaldivas3, and #HITchicks have in common? They are some of the Twitter handles and hashtags that young women professionals in technology are using on social media to encourage Women around CR tablemore women to go into the field. I recently did a fireside chat with Kate Catlin, the organizer of Women Rising, and about 30 young women in downtown Detroit. It was the first in a new UpRising series where they invite in “high-powered women in technology” they want to learn from.

The questions covered a broad range of concerns, and not just about working in technology. We were scheduled for an hour but could easily have continued for several more. I answered their questions with advice and lessons from my own experience.

Some of their questions:

How did you get started in technology?  Continue reading