Above and Beyond Consulting

St. John Health System wanted IT project coordination, clarity, and project management all in one place. HPG made it happen.

St. John Health System in Tulsa, Oklahoma embarked on an aggressive information systems transformation in 2004, and has achieved most of what it set out to do – on time and within planned budgets. Not an easy accomplishment in the world of multi-year, multi-million dollar software installations.

Particularly demanding to plan, install and test, St. John leaders encountered all the normal complexities and challenges of converting to an electronic medical record application (EMR - Cerner Millennium®) The EMR system also had to work well with the dozens of other software systems that run in a hospital environment.

Outside IT contractors were engaged to do most of the heavy lifting for the duration of the massive project, but St. John staffers still had to track and manage the numerous projects related to the EMR conversion. Mike Reeves, CIO of St. John, saw the risk and made plans for reinforcements.

“We recognized that the volume and complexity of the multiple projects underway were more than our internal teams could handle,” said Reeves.

Reeves decided to bring in HPG several years ago just as some of the most challenging Cerner Millennium® modules were being installed, including computerized physician order entry (CPOE.) Reeves had great support from nurses and doctors on the floors, and he knew he needed a smooth conversion to preserve and build on that support.

HPG’s joined the team at St. John, bringing with them many years of Cerner Millennium® consulting experience and project management skills. As the HPG project management team got up to speed, Reeves realized that not only could he rely on them for the Cerner Millennium® implementation, but he could also trust them to manage all the vendor projects related to the EMR conversion.

“The HPG project management professionals knew how all the pieces fit together and so they were a natural choice to lead the project management office for the health system,” said Reeves. “They made surevendors were coordinated, they anticipated problems and conflicts, and they found ways to solve them.”

Since HPG started working with the St. John IT department, they’ve overseen multiple Cerner Millennium® module installs including the CPOE project. With more than 18 months of planning and implementation, CPOE went live in mid-2012 with deployment in all five of the system’s hospitals.

“To their credit and to our staff’s credit as well, we considered the HPG project management team to be part of our team,” Reeves said. “It was never a mindset that ‘they were contractors’ or outsiders. They were out in our hospitals, often representing our department to all our end-users. They have always been extremely professional and responsive and have certainly come through during our critical conversions.”

HPG made sure everyone was kept informed each step of the way so there were no surprises, Reeves said.

“It’s been a well-planned and methodical imple- mentation of many Cerner Millennium® modules,” Reeves said.

Over the course of the software implementations, St. John even opened its newest community hospital in Broken Arrow, Okla., as well as several diagnostic centers.

The HPG project management professionals knew how all the pieces fit together and so they were a natural choice to lead the project management office for the health system. They made sure vendors were coordinated, they anticipated problems and conflicts, and they found ways to solve them.
- Mike Reeves, CIO, St. John Health System

 

Doctors and nurses took the lead

St. John has a long tradition in healthcare, dating back to its founding in 1926 by the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother.  It has received prestigious honors for patient-centered care and in 2011 was recognized as one of America’s “Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report.

St. John Medical Center, the largest of the system’s facilities, is nationally recognized for its cardiovascular, orthopedic, palliative and stroke care. It is a regional leader in many other specialties, including oncology and neurosurgery.

St. John has a medical staff of more than 1,000 across the system. In all, there are some 1,300 users of the Cerner Millennium® system. As for CPOE, the adoption rate has been nearly 90 percent among its doctors.

According to St. John IT analyst Marsha Waterstradt, the healthcare providers in the system have embraced the changes due to open communications and planning.

“They owned the project,” Waterstradt said. “The physicians, and the nurses, really led the project. Without their support and leadership it would not have been successful.”

The medical staff and administration worked together from the start and it continues. They provide ongoing feedback and recommendations for upgrades and improvements.

“The medical staff leadership makes sure that everyone knows that CPOE makes patient care better and
more accurate so everyone is on board and using it productively,” Waterstradt said.

Establishing a project management office with HPG in charge made for a more organized and efficient conversion, said Dolores Morton, manager of clinical applications at St. John. The HPG project manager often called on the HPG network of specialists and resources as they were needed. It wasn’t necessary to reinvent the wheel when questions came up since our project manager, or one of his colleagues, most likely had been through it before.

“We didn’t just get a single project manager, we got the entire HPG team of consultants,” Morton said. “Our project manager would often reach out and source information and ideas from other HPG consultants assigned to other health systems.”

The HPG project management team was so valuable to the St. John IT team, they even helped hire a permanent St. John employee to take over long term.

HPG helped navigate the critical implementations. Now St. John employees assume day-to-day maintenance, support and upgrades.

CIO Reeves said the HPG team was excellent at making things run smoothly.

“The information systems are solid and well-designed and work the way we planned,” said Reeves. “HPG did great work that was completed successfully.”

Asked if he would recommend HPG’s project management capabilities to other health systems, Reeves doesn’t miss a beat: “No question. They are some of the best we’ve ever worked with.”

We didn’t just get a single project manager, we got the entire HPG team of consultants. Our project manager would often reach out and source information and ideas from other HPG consultants assigned to other health systems.
– Dolores Morton, Manager, Clinical Applications, St. John Health System

 

 

 

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