What makes a successful Community Connect program? It’s a question our Affiliate Solutions team is often asked – one that’s inspired many a blog post, podcast, and white paper over the years. If you follow our work, you’ve probably listened to or read our take on this topic before.
So, we thought it might be helpful to flip the script. We posed this question to our Connect clients – health IT leaders who have successfully navigated each step of their Connect program and have lived to tell about it (some of them, multiple times over!). No matter if you’re leading your first Connect program or your fifth, you could probably use a little advice from industry peers who have been in your shoes.
Watch below as these healthcare leaders share their thoughts on what it takes to lead a successful Community Connect program:
- Hill Physicians Senior Director of Provider Applications and Support Jeff Goggans
- Bellin Health Team Lead of Epic Applications Ashley Daffinson
- Piedmont Healthcare Executive Director of Strategic Integration Jeff Lambert
If you’re like these organizations and need some guidance on extending your EHR to your physician partners, let’s talk. We’d be happy to sit down with you to listen to your specific Connect needs and develop a strategy that meets your organization’s goals.
Jeff Goggans: Our Community Connect Program was created in order for our independent physicians to remain independent. This allows them to utilize a world-class EMR and keep their independence.
Ashley Daffinson: We had a lot of partners already that were with Bellin, and this was just another opportunity for us to be closer with those providers, giving them more access to patients that they see that are also patients at Bellin Health, and then also giving those patients the access that they can schedule online and do other things that if they were just at Bellin that when they go see these other affiliate providers, they can do the same things.
Jeff Lambert: There was a existing EMR that was in place at some of our affiliate practices and when we switched over to Epic across the enterprise, we had to sunset that system and the Epic Connect program is perfect for what we needed to do to accommodate those practices. And then we also wanted to grow our Epic footprint within our independent practices and our clinically integrated network.
Jeff Goggans: A good Connect program stems from getting voice of the customer and getting buy-in from those folks who are utilizing the system. It allows them to have a say in what changes are made and how it's utilized.
Jeff Lambert: A good Connect program starts with executive level buy-in and understanding the why. What's our business motivation for engaging in this Connect program? And if you've got that alignment and that dedication, I think then everything else falls into place.
Ashley Daffinson: Just having that relationship, not from just an IT level of IT reaching out to different affiliates that we are partnered with to see if they want to come on board, but an all around relationship with the affiliate and the host.
Jeff Lambert: We just implemented our first hospital Connect program, and the lesson that we learned was to be flexible with how we go about doing the implementations. You can't necessarily impose all of those standards and that Piedmont build in those facilities. You got to be flexible, and you've got to understand what the affiliate partner needs to be successful.
Jeff Goggans: Keeping engagement and communicating with the providers is always one of those things that you can't do enough of.
Ashley Daffinson: There's a lot of integration when it comes to the EMR, so always looking at what else they need. Do they need imaging things, do they need help with emails? Certain things like that. Since all the integration is put together that it can be a little bit difficult if you don't think about the other things that that Community Connect partner might need.
Jeff Goggans: So some of the advice I would give to someone who's starting a Connect program would be to plan ahead, be prepared for a lot of pitfalls and changes that might come along, but it is well worth it in the end.
Ashley Daffinson: Keep that relationship strong. Keeping tabs on each other on what the other affiliate needs, what's coming up, what kind of struggles you have?
Jeff Lambert: I feel strongly that you need dedicated resources in a Connect program. Sharing resources with the enterprise in my opinion is something that I think can dilute the focus of the resources that are assigned to it. And when you've got nuances of these independent practices, you need to pay attention to that, and you need to have personnel that are working on the program, sensitive to that.
We've got about 1,300 independent physicians in our clinically integrated network spread across 50 or 60 different EMRs. We've got to be successful with the program to attract other independents into the fold. Having 50 different EMRs across the independent membership is not sustainable, and we're not going to mandate that everybody move to the Epic platform. So we've got to build success organically by working closely with our clients and being sensitive to the nuances of independent practices.
Jeff Goggans: It's a really good program, and it's rather unique amongst all the EMRs, and it gives health organizations the ability to take their uniqueness and regionally apply it.
Jeff Lambert: We'd never done anything like this before and knowing that we could go to a partner that had done this as many times as Nordic has done it, brought a level of comfort.
Ashley Daffinson: Working with Nordic is always wonderful. They're always understanding of where we're trying to go strategically and not just coming in and doing the work, but partnering with us.
Jeff Goggans: I've worked with Nordic in several organizations, and Nordic's always been great to work with. Consistent quality resources. And I look forward to working with you in the future.