As the snow and ice fell here in Oklahoma this week, I took a few minutes out of my day to go shovel the driveway and help some neighbors and friends dig cars out of the ditches and parking lots. While helping dig an older gentleman and his wife out of a snow bank, the man introduced himself and I, in turn, introduced myself. What he said after that got me thinking about this week’s message.
The gentleman very politely looked at me and said, “Well, you seem a lot nicer than my doc X made you seem while he was gripping about you making him enter orders on some computer he doesn’t have time to deal with.”
Wasn’t that a fine how do you do? As you can imagine, it took me by surprise at first; but I’m used to being on my toes, so I quickly took the high-road and replied: “Glad to hear I’m not as bad as I was made out to be. Change is tough and right now, that’s all we have in healthcare. I just know not to expect a Christmas gift this year,” I smiled and went on digging.
As many organizations look to start, or have started, their CPOE system implementations, communication is the CIOs best and worst friend. You need to start “selling” the system now to your physicians. Involve them early and often in any discussions, demonstrations, or meetings about the project. And don’t stop asking them!
Duncan Regional is now live with CPOE, and we’re well on our way, but it’s been a tough road for everyone involved. Set up a Medical Informatics Committee (MIC) and include physicians on the committee. Our MIC is a sub-committee of our Medical Executive Committee and includes a surgeon, OB/GYN, orthopedic surgeon and a family practice physician. As well, the CNO and CEO attend the meetings, so we all have clear dialog going on about the process and how things are working.
Remember, as CIO, you need to sell the system, process, workflows and change as a whole! Remind people that this will not be easy change and the system will not come up perfect. Include your physicians at every turn and find a champion to be your go-to person. I have four that I can go to at the drop of a hat. Also remember that any comments, criticism or frustrations that come from your medical staff are NOT personal. Change is tough and will be very tough for your physicians, even the really good highly-technical physicians.
Be open, responsive and visible. Go to your physician offices and meet with them one on one, giving information on the process and how the project is going. Attend breakfast and dinner meetings where you can get input and provide information. And NEVER promise something you are not 100% sure can be done.
During this process, and it is a process, there will be a lot of negative feedback coming to your office. Physicians will be upset, nurses will be upset, issues will occur in pharmacy and radiology — as tough as it gets, remember you are the advocate for change. Be honest and realistic with your answers to the medical and clinical staff and listen to the concerns. Take them one at a time and keep talking…talking….talking.
Open communication is the #1 requirement for a successful implementation. Without it, your adventure to the new frontier of electronic ordering will be brief, painful and very costly. Our new frontier for all CIOs is to get out there, out of the office, and listen — truly listen to what is going on and make modifications to our plans based on what we hear. It’s not personal, we all have to get there together, and trying to navigate instead of drive is the key.