Why fundamentals matter: Three key plays for a winning EHR

PatHingley_2019 -3_cropped blog-1Basketball coaching legend John Wooden used to teach that you could win in basketball if you mastered three things: fundamentals, conditioning, and teamwork. With this approach, he was one of the winningest coaches of all time. Sometimes, it seems that we overlook the wisdom in this type of simplicity when it comes to our EHR systems.

Take, for example, the average Cerner Millennium implementation. Millennium is a powerful and robust EHR, with massive customization opportunities, but if you fail to focus on the fundamentals, such as workflow standardization and end-user satisfaction, you may find yourself unexpectedly losing the game.

It’s easy to go astray. Organizations start with good intentions of sticking to the standard model. Over time, though, they slowly morph their system into one trying to meet the unique needs of each of their departments. Workflows gradually become cumbersome and upgrades time-consuming, complicated, and costly.

So how can you create a winning strategy for your EHR implementation? In the game of Cerner, or any EHR for that matter, we recommend you start with these three key fundamental plays:

1. Stand up a governance committee

Creating a single point of ownership for the Cerner system can be a significant opportunity for any healthcare organization. An overall vision and strategy must be the driving force behind the effective use of any system or application. Establishing a governance committee or single point of ownership that is responsible for product oversight, setting product direction, and prioritization is key.

So what does a governance committee actually do? The committee reviews and facilitates discussion on scope management issues, monitors ROI, and ensures project risks are mitigated and/or resolved. And just as a winning team needs a dynamic head coach, an effective governance committee needs a skilled product manager/owner. The project manager is responsible for a variety of tasks including:

  • Monitoring product status
  • Overseeing the development of resolutions to integration issues received from the functional departments and/or the vendor
  • Preparing analyses and financial recommendations for issues to be forwarded to the governance committee, which will then adjudicate any conflicts

2. Develop a holistic roadmap strategy

While a coach relies on a playbook to win, your team will need a roadmap for better EHR outcomes. A roadmap is a strategic plan that defines a goal or desired outcome and includes the major milestones needed to reach it. Roadmaps serve as a communication tool – a high-level document that helps articulate strategic thinking. Effectively, the ‘why’ behind both the goal and the plan for getting there. 

A holistic roadmapping process will better determine what portions of all your systems and platforms are fully implemented and where they may be conflicts for resources. They include timelines for when each additional tool or function is to be implemented if at all. Holistic roadmaps help ensure resources are appropriately allocated, and that anticipated outcomes are understood, measured, and ultimately met. The result? Alignment in vision and execution.

3. Create a strong vendor relationship

Establishing a strong relationship with a vendor like Cerner Millennium positively impacts the outcomes of EHR use. How do you make that happen? Establish guidelines that govern the relationship, ownership, responsibilities, and expected results for system performance and support. The most successful organizations involve their consultants and technology vendor in strategy sessions and make them a partner by sharing information and priorities as appropriate. Approaches like negotiating in good faith, creating win-win agreements, and understanding the balance between commitment to and competition with them, also go a long way towards enhanced vendor-customer relationships.

The current environment is distracting, and often fundamentals fall to the wayside. Revisiting these low-cost management practices of determining ownership, defining a strategy, and ensuring a strong vendor relationship will create a sturdy foundation for any implementation or add-on project. It can also help optimize an underutilized platform, contributing to improved user satisfaction and increased patient care. For Cerner Millennium and the customizations possible, one of the most elegant ways to win is by focusing efforts on these three key fundamentals.

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Topics: Implementation, featured, Cerner

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