WBB's Thought Leadership

Training and Optimization Resulted in Effective Penn Medicine Epic Rollout

May 30

Optimization teams comprised of physicians, nurses, and operations staff combined with advanced provider educators focused on ensuring clinicians used EHR optimally.

Targeted training and optimization efforts resulted in physicians and nurses using the EHR to the best of its capabilities.

Excerpt: “As of March, Penn Medicine is live on Epic enterprise-wide, wrapping up what has been an almost decade-long process.

“Penn began rolling out Epic electronic health record at its ambulatory sites as far back as the late '90s – finally completing the outpatient implementation about seven or eight years ago. In March, the academic medical center switched on its inpatient, hospital billing and home care systems. That has required a bit of a balancing act when it comes to ensuring physicians and nurses are using the EHR to the best of its capabilities, said Scott Schlegel, associate vice president for EHR transformation at Penn Medicine.”

“One of the key tasks for Schlegel's team was ‘to do some remedial work to tighten up on the ambulatory side – the ones that have been live for a little while – and then mesh that with the newly minted users on the inpatient side.’ So far, that work has been going very well, he said. His team comprises so-called advanced provider educators who focus on targeted efforts to ensure clinicians are using the EHR optimally.

"’We've been tasked to create optimization infrastructure, and a transformation infrastructure, that leverages the EHR to help us achieve our business goals and clinical care goals,’ said Schlegel. ‘Those are our marching orders.’"

“Schlegel said a three-part balance – ‘a physician, a nurse and an operations person’ – had been extremely valuable to crafting smart optimization strategies that meet the needs of the specific staffers. Crucially, he said, the efforts are led by the operations department – in close partnership with information services – and are focused both on improving both individual usage of Epic and enterprise-wide functionality challenges.

"’One of the uniquenesses with us is that we do not sit in IS,’ said Schlegel. ‘We sit in operations but partner very closely with IS.’ He said there were some ‘challenges that were unique to us in the beginning,’ with regard to ‘sorting out what role people had, and where we draw lines and things like that.’

“He sees the optimization team as ‘a bridge between operations and IS,’ allowing each to play to its strength while maximizing the chance that EHR optimization efforts will stick.”

SourcesHealthcare IT News

WBB Take: Focused optimization teams made of physicians, nurses, and operations/QI members are a key to successful EHR implementations. A “Lessons Learned” bridge between organizational silos, facilities, and project phases in a large multidiscipline rollout of EHR technology provides a rapid means to learn quickly, adapt swiftly, and to target the right resources at the most salient risks, issues, and opportunities.

Likewise, failure to have role-based interactive training, multidisciplinary fix teams, and effective risk-management processes often results in wasted effort, missed deadlines, and sub-optimal outcomes that can linger for years after implementation, and have serious consequences for safety, efficiency, and effectiveness. Facilities that have not had such teams and have not invested the effort to perform lessons learned cycles throughout the project, have seen reduced user adoption, and increased project issues.

Cited by Matthew Loxton


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