Trained in emergency medicine, Brian Patty, M.D., knows stress. So when he inherited a failed inpatient systems deployment, the chief medical informatics officer at St. Paul, Minn.-based HealthEast Care System didn't flinch. After an initial deployment in a new facility, displeased clinicians revolted against the technology, compelling HealthEast to temporarily yank the system of San Francisco-based McKesson Corp. from its three other hospitals. "HealthEast gave me carte blanche to build a new informatics department," Patty recalls. Beginning in December 2005, he built the department from scratch, growing it to 46 staff. Three years later, HealthEast has automated its nursing documentation, is underway with CPOE at three hospitals, and half-way through a bedside bar code project - using the same technology it nearly surrendered. His trick: "Classic change management."

On promoting the Informatics Division:

I laid out a vision of what the department would do for the CEO, COO and CFO. They were easy to sway. They had seen the failures. They were a bit aghast when I told them the price, though. We went from a 1.6 percent to a .6 percent operating margin system wide because of the new staff.

On the failed first deployment:

It was the same system that we have now implemented. It was a matter of the build. We significantly tweaked the documentation screens to meet department needs. In the ICU, we tried to emulate on the screens what the staff had been documenting on spread sheets. And we imported information from the monitors and ventilators automatically. We were giving them the best of both the paper and electronic worlds, rather than saying, "Here is the standard documentation sheet, live with it."

This article was orignially published in Health Data Management.

(c) 2009 Health Data Management and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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