When 11-hospital Allina Hospitals and Clinics in Minnesota starting implementing an enterprise electronic health records system, Abbott Northwestern Hospital--the largest facility--was the second site to go live and had its share of rookie mistakes.

Those lessons guided smoother inpatient installations for the rest of the delivery system, said Tony Berliner, M.D., medical director of Excellian Inpatient, which is Allina’s name for its EHR from Epic Systems Corp.

One big issue at Abbott was that a physician was leading the hospital on an interim basis and was reluctant to crack the whip and get other docs to accept the EHR, Berliner recalled. So when the time came for another hospital implementation, “We changed the message to ‘This is not optional,’” he said. “The message became ‘The EHR is the patient’s chart. You won’t be able to bill what’s not in the chart.’”

That was the stick, but the carrot was that Allina also started really listening to what physicians needed from the EHR. By the time United Hospital became the last major facility to go live, stable leadership there was committed to the initiative and physicians were becoming less resistant because they saw peers throughout Allina using the EHR.

And by then, Allina had learned another big lessons: Do Big Bangs that include physician documentation and CPOE on Day One.

--Joseph Goedert


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