Strategic Outreach

Managing Change Via Communications

When the change initiative changes

About our Epic Implementation at Providence Health & Services: 27 hospitals (ranging from small rural hospitals to 700-plus-bed medical centers) and 350 clinics across five state are moving to a single-build Epic Electronic Health Record system (2012-2014).

A seismic change to an organization or to its core operations is hard enough to accomplish, but from a communications standpoint, it’s even more challenging when the change initiative itself changes along the way. After going live on Epic at six hospitals and dozens of clinics within four months last year, our leadership realized that the initial, highly aggressive go-live schedule could not be maintained. Problematic areas included: building unique lab interfaces for every hospital and clinic group; getting revenue cycle processes up and running (ex: charge capture); and getting physicians across the system to agree to standardized order sets.

After having trumpeted “full steam ahead” for many months, we suddenly needed to explain the need for a 6-month pause in hospital go-lives so that the Epic team could fix, complete, or improve a whole bunch of things. Ambulatory go-live waves of clinics, however, continued during this period.

Our intention was not only committing to getting it right, but also to reinforce that we are a “learning” organization that expects mistakes, and expects to learn from them.

What didn’t change: the executive sponsors’ involvement and commitment to the objective and the program. Strategically we remained consistent; tactically we were flexible. During the inpatient go-live pause, twelve high-priority workgroups hammered out specific deliverables. Communications were open, transparent, positive, and frequent.

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May 29, 2013 Posted by | B2B messaging, Change Management, Corporate Communications, IT Process Change, Tech Sector Thought Leadership | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Physician engagement during major change implementations

When you change the way thousands of physicians will be working in your hospitals (i.e. implement a totally new Electronic Health Record), it’s no small task to win their hearts and minds. Nothing can substitute for face-to-face engagement: local physician champions talking to their colleagues at mixers, convenient and effective training followed by hands-on time, prior to go-live; and at-the-elbow support at go-live. Emailed information is not the name of the game.

At Providence, we created an interactive tool called Choose Your Own Journey that lets physicians try-out our build of the Epic Electronic Health Record (EHR) prior to training. These modules walk them through patient visits, orders and other tasks – with a narrator prompting them to perform each step (and helping them if they need it).

Our first inpatient go-live experiences demonstrated to us that we needed even more support for our physicians.  We subsequently added Provider Optimization Workshops, on site, to help better prepare them before go-live. We also employed tutors (med students already well-schooled on Epic) for at-the-elbow help during their first days of using the new system with actual patients, and set up Provider Engagement Centers during go-live where physicians could ask questions and get help.

Our physician champions used talking points, FAQs and other tools we prepped for them. We wrote a candid “pros and cons of Epic” piece that acknowledged what tasks would initially take them more time until they became proficient on the system.  It also discusses what they needed to sacrifice for the greater cause of achieving integrated patient records that would ultimately save everyone time, and lead to better outcomes, and higher patient safety and satisfaction.

Bottom line: you can’t have too much physician engagement.

May 1, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment