Healthcare // Clinical Information Systems
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2/18/2011
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Penn Medicine's Tech-Enabled Culture

Six steps to making technology an integral part of a large healthcare organization.

At Penn Medicine, the need to persuade sometimes-reluctant physicians of the benefits of information systems is largely a thing of the past. Our doctors rely on sophisticated tech capabilities to help improve patient care, as well as manage their practices and conduct their research more efficiently. They've become nearly universal IS advocates. Consider the following:

  • We've used the Eclipsys Sunrise Clinical Manager suite to achieve 100% computerized physician order entry (CPOE), a rate that less than 10% of healthcare organizations have achieved.
  • Penn Medicine, along with a small number of other facilities across the country, has about 1,700 of its 1,800 physicians actively using of its Epic electronic medical record system.
  • Physicians make about 15 million hits per year into our internally developed physician portal to view patient information and results.
  • All of our physicians have access to an internally developed data warehouse that maintains 1.4 billion records help ensure patient safety and quality care as well as support clinical trials and research.

These accomplishments reflect years of planning, investment, and hard work by physicians, nurses, and IS personnel. Here are some of the steps we took:

1. Clinical IT Governance Group: We established a high-level governing group that helps set our IT priorities and ensures that the necessary resources are available. Included in it are our chief medical officer, chief administrative officer, pharmacy director, executive director of our clinical practices, corporate senior VP, and our CFO.

2. Dedicated Implementation and Support: We hired a number of outside consultants to complement our employees, creating a skilled team with significant subject matter expertise. While we were implementing our EMR system, each practice established a governance committee made up of clinical and administrative staff. Those groups worked with the IS team, deciding how areas like workflow and data conversion would work.

3. Physician Participation: We included physicians and nurses in the planning, implementation, and optimization of all of our technology initiatives. By incorporating their feedback we created customized solutions that addressed the needs of our users and generated enthusiasm and support for the projects. Having these clinicians involved ensures that we don't lose sight of the challenges they face in areas such as documenting their notes, entering patient demographic data, and initial chart abstraction.

One group that included six physicians redesigned the workflow we use to manage injections and immunizations. Having doctors in the group helped make sure the changes improved the process so injections are now tracked and managed more consistently, discretely, and completely.

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