Henry County Health Center recently was recognized as one of the Top 100 Most Wired hospitals. This blog post interviews Brian Moreau on the role of the hospital IT team in realizing this achievement.
In this post, we interviewed Brian Moreau, IT Director, Center. Henry County Health Center was recently recognized as being one of the Top 100 Most Wired hospitals in the US by Hospitals & Health Network magazine. Below is the interview with Brian.
What was the evaluation process to become one of the ‘most wired’ hospitals?
Henry County Health Center raised its hand to participate in the 2007 Most Wired Survey and Benchmarking Study sponsored by released Hospitals & Health Networks magazine. It is a detailed study that covers how Henry County Health Center uses information technology to address five key areas: safety and quality, customer service, business processes, workforce, and public health and safety.
What was it that motivated you to undertake this initiative?
In 2003, the Henry County Health Center management team developed a strategic plan in which being a Most Wired hospital was one of the key elements. We knew it would be important to advance our information technology efforts in order to deliver the right type of care and services to our patient community.
In Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about the flywheel concept. If everyone in the organization is pushing on the flywheel – moving initiatives forward turn-by-turn, momentum is gained. It is a continuous improvement effort over time. This is illustrative of our approach – everyone was involved, and we made significant incremental improvements over time.
We had initiatives to realize our strategic plan, including physician chart, electronic medical records (EMR), website additions for patient education and personal health manager, etc… These initiatives were not single stroke, bold implementations, but many people working hard and strong focus on improving turn-by-turn.
For us, it came down to setting a vision, and sticking to it. We kept the discipline to stay with it.
As part of your strategic plan, what was the level of focus on workflow?
It was one of the key elements, and one in which technology can play a significant role in advancing and streamlining various operational processes and patient flows.
One of the key workflows for our hospital was the relationship with ambulatory clinics. To enhance the flow of patient order and results, bi-directional communication was essential. A significant tactic to enable this was purchasing and implementing an interface engine. In a recent article – IT Performance Excellence, I highlighted how we used technology innovatively to make workflow easier and connect effectively with our doctors.
What about patient flow specifically?
The patient experience has changed significantly. With the advances that we have made, patients now have educational content they can access from our website; patients can pay bills on-line; patients have access to health calculators; and patients have access to a personal health manager. Basically, much more relevant information is now available to our patients in a convenient, accessible manner.
Another patient flow enhancement is the efficiency that they experience. Physicians have immediate access to a patient’s information. EMRs and healthcare integration technology have positively impacted efficiency, accuracy, and access – all which enhance the patient’s experience.
The physician’s experience has changed as well. The physician now orders requested patient tests electronically and receives the results back electronically in their EMR system. No paper, no scan … radiology, laboratory, etc. results are seamlessly received in a faster turnaround time. With these changes, quality is enhanced and greater efficiency realized, positively affecting both physicians and patients equally.
One of the ten lessons from the top 100 hospitals was that infrastructure is key to the future. What are your thoughts on that lesson?
In my view, infrastructure is a fundamental responsibility of IT. We need to advance, protect, secure, and unify it. Infrastructure is a very important piece of the puzzle. We need to deliver all of the elements that I just mentioned while ensuring that it is reliable. In the end, infrastructure translates to patient safety and quality.
What lessons have you learned in working through this process?
Two key lessons learned: never give up or get discouraged, and never make excuses.
On the never give up principle, there are many great people on my team and throughout this hospital that made the strategic plan happen. Their work and diligence enabled our achievements and recognition. Whether we realized it or not, we were all advancing the flywheel, and together we realized a significant transformation in how we deliver care in our community.
With the never make excuses principle, saying you cannot afford it is not an answer. There are good vendors willing to work with you. Find them. From medical content to health management to interface technology, we found great vendors willing to work with us.
This is a team effort across the spectrum: people, physicians, patients, and partners.
We are done celebrating. We want to continue our success, so we have a number of initiatives to keep pushing on the flywheel. Initiatives include a new CPOE system, redesigning our website, electronic documentation, etc.We look forward to our work ahead.
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