Healthsystem CIO Interview with Gene Thomas, VP & CIO, Memorial Hospital at Gulfport, Chapter 1 (Healthsystem CIO)

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[Published 02/25/2015 By Kate Gamble]

Gene Thomas can tell you the precise date and time his team ‘flipped the switch,’ going from three EHR systems to one. It was a big move, one that Thomas believes has placed the organization on the right track. But it’s also a move that required a great deal of planning and discipline, and came with challenges no one could anticipate. In this interview, he shares some of the lessons learned in leading a big-bang implementation, what it will take to go from stabilization mode to optimization mode, and the many hats CIOs must wear. Thomas also talks about the his team’s big plans for analytics (and what they’re doing to set the stage), his thoughts on patient engagement, and how he has benefited from his previous career experience.

Chapter 1

  • About Memorial Hospital Gulfport
  • Going big bang with Cerner Millenium — “It requires a lot of discipline.”
  • Change management & avoiding knee-jerk reactions
  • Cross-section representation
  • Defining optimization — “We wanted the most integrated system possible”
  • Robust analytics with Health Catalyst

Bold Statements

  • You quickly have to kind of dissect is this a want or need; is it just that someone doesn’t like the new workflow and therefore they put in a request to have it changed? You’ve got to be careful you don’t make too many of those, because it may not be the right change long-term.
  • You’ll have a group of physicians say, ‘I would like for the look or the feel or the workflow to be this way,’ but you’ve got to have a governing body. Somebody has to make decisions on behalf of the entire medical staff.
  • Optimization is really how do I wind up getting the return on investment and better patient experience — how do I tweak everything in every area as finely as you possible can tweak it? So we define ourselves right now probably at the tail end of our stabilization.
  • I don’t want to say analytics is more strategic than your EMR, but it’s obviously very strategic. Without a robust EMR, you don’t get the analytics you need.

Gamble:  Hi Gene, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today.

Thomas:  You’re welcome.

Gamble:  Can you just give our readers and listeners a little bit of information about Memorial Hospital Gulfport?

Thomas:  Memorial Hospital Gulfport is a not-for-profit, community-based hospital founded in 1946. We’re a 445 bed licensed facility. We have somewhere close to 90 clinics that weown and operate. We have about 3,000 employees and about 450 medical staff members, half of which are employed. We do somewhere around 400,000 ambulatory visits a year. We probably do 180,000 to 200,000 outpatient procedures, 17,000 discharges, and somewhere near 80,000 to 85,000 emergency department visits at our current volumes.

Gamble:  Okay. And tell us a little bit about the area geographically.

Thomas:  The main campus facility — we do have clinics in the community — but the main campus is a little less than a mile from the Gulf of Mexico where hurricanes like to hangout oddly enough. We’re about 65 miles to the east of New Orleans, right on the coast, and so we’re kind of wedged in between New Orleans and the Florida Panhandle.

Gamble:  So now in terms of the clinical application environment, what do you have in place at the hospital?

Thomas:  We have recently — and that means June 14, 2014 — converted and did a very large, big bang, house-wide EMR replacement. We replaced three existing systems, and the three systems are between our ED, our inpatient venue, and our clinic footprint, and went completely house-wide with Cerner Millennium installation for electronic medical record in almost all venues of care.

Gamble:  How did that work as far as… Click to read the full conversation

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