The journey continues

What better time than year end to reflect on our collective progress as an IT team. You will see a lot of “top 10” type stories in December – top trends, breakthroughs, stories, and even top predictions for the coming year. I’ll leave those to people with far more time to research and write. What I’d like to share is the progress my incredible IT team has made in partnership with our many internal customers at UMHS in 2015. These are common journeys for health care CIOs around the country.

Our EHR journey continues to be one of our biggest efforts. With the core systems behind us now for a few years, we continue to add specialty modules and new functionality to support our evolving needs. As I said in a recent post, “Evolving into the future”, we are in what we call MiChart Stage 4 which includes radiology, home care, and part of cardiology. The go live date for this stage is in October, 2016. We will do the Epic 2015 upgrade at the same time – providing many new features and functions to our users. We also have strategic initiatives in capacity management, patient engagement and telehealth. To further those, we are planning for the Bed Management module to replace an existing third party product. We will also implement Bedside in the hospitals that don’t already have a solution, and integrate telehealth functions with our EHR.

We have had a number of infrastructure efforts over the past year.  As with many health care organizations, we are focusing on strengthening our security program and developing a stronger security culture. Will we ever be done with security efforts? No. It’s truly a journey as cybersecurity threats continue to grow and take new forms. Significant progress has been made on encryption; in 2015, we deployed our mobile device management tool and an encrypted email solution. We’ve kicked off our multi-factor authentication project and have received funding approval for a multi-year identity access management project. Both are joint efforts across the university. Our health system security program is now part of the university program. We are close to hiring a dedicated health system CISO as part of this combined program – a challenge in a very competitive market!

Our analytics initiative continues. We have developed a robust and detailed enterprise level roadmap for the health system that spans our tri-partite mission of education, research and clinical care. We can only go so far without funding support but we are using existing IT resources to make progress on what we see as foundational projects. People have been working across organizational lines as a virtual team to make progress on something they feel strongly about and that is much needed.

Another journey that may never end is interoperability. We provide a range of options for sharing data with other providers depending on their EHR vendor and our business relationship. We work through our primary health information exchange (HIE), Great Lakes Health Connect, to share data with many hospitals and providers. We also utilize Epic’s core products called Care Everywhere (Epic-Epic), Care Elsewhere (Epic to non-Epic), and Care Link (referring physicians portal), as well as Direct Messaging. I expect the HIE landscape to look very different in a few years as the market continues to evolve and consolidate. For the foreseeable future we will provide a range of options.

Turning to a more inward journey, we have made considerable progress on lean efforts in the past year. We started leadership huddles to improve how we manage and track problems and issues. We have many experiments underway with daily team huddles and visual boards throughout the department. And we have 5 pilots, one for each IT division, currently in process as we develop our daily management system. As we continue to learn and experiment, we know lean is a journey.

And finally, there is our Value and Margin Improvement (VMI) journey. IT is just one of several areas within the health system going through this review. Teams including IT and customers throughout the health system have done an in-depth analysis to identify opportunities to eliminate duplication and to remove inefficiencies and waste. The goals are cost reduction and improved services to our customers. Our recommendations are nearly complete; business cases are being finalized in the next few weeks. Implementing these recommendations will span 2016 and beyond.

We would not be advancing these efforts without a strong leadership team and talented, committed staff. I am grateful to all who have worked so hard in 2015 to make such incredible progress on our journeys together.

4 thoughts on “The journey continues

  1. Loved reading your year end note highlighting the journey of your IT departments and the priorities. I believe you made quite a relevant point around interoperatibility, infosecurity and EHR: it’s a journey which can never end and IT needs to keep pace with evolving challenges.

    • Sue Schade on said:

      Tushar, absolutely right – these are ongoing journeys for all health care organizations. As long as we keep moving them forward and not slipping backwards, we are good.

  2. Mike Brooks on said:

    Enjoy reading your blog. UMHS has accomplished a tremendous amount this year. These achievements are terrific examples for other healthcare organizations as the industry continues to evolve. Such progress would not be possible without the clear vision and strong leadership demonstrated by the UMHS team. UMHS’ future is exciting indeed. Best wishes in 2016!

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