It was a long but productive 24 hours. A team of us from University of Michigan Health System flew to Durham, NC, on Tuesday evening, spent a 10-hour day on Wednesday at Duke Medicine, and then flew home. It was a site visit aimed toward learning from each other and determining opportunities for collaboration.
UMHS and Duke have similar profiles: our overall size, IT infrastructure and core applications. We are in similar places on our EHR journey with Epic. And we are both very focused on analytics — the impetus for our visit.
Duke’s CIO, Dr. Jeff Ferranti, and I know each other; we thought the proposal for a visit was a great idea. Our Chief Medical Information Officer, Dr. Andrew Rosenberg, and Duke’s Chief Health Information Officer, Dr. Eric Poon, planned and organized the day’s agenda. We let Andrew and Eric run with it and they did a terrific job!
Two important clinical leaders joined our Michigan team of several senior IT leaders — Dr. Jeff Desmond, our Chief Medical Officer, and Dr. Steve Bernstein, Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs. We needed them there as we talked broadly about analytics and support for population health. While some of the technical jargon was beyond them, it didn’t matter. They needed to understand Duke’s new Analytics Center of Excellence (ACE) and Duke’s mobile apps strategy, which is now nearing release. What mattered is discussing how we can apply some of that at Michigan.
Our account executive from Epic (or BFF as they like to call this role) joined us. A number of other Epic experts were remote ad-hoc participants as we discussed their products. But Epic was not there to sell. They were supporting our collaborative discussions and trying to understand our common needs — all part of our partnership with them as our core EHR vendor.
We have all spent days at professional conferences and vendor briefings where we hear keynotes, attend track sessions and network with each other over meals. It’s invigorating and exhausting at the same time. We come away with a few new ideas and insights to explore further. But then we get busy catching up on email and our day to day issues. And all too often, the new ideas are untried and lost.
But the day with our Duke counterparts was different. It was a day of open, honest exchange with our peers. By lunch we had listed more than 10 topics for further exploration or collaboration. Some just call for a bit more info sharing that we could do with a phone call. Most importantly, we agreed on a few key collaborative efforts and identified individuals to own the next steps.
Health care is a very collaborative industry. We may compete in our local markets and with national academic peer organizations, but we are committed to continually learn from each another and to collaborate to improve health care. Collaboration is powerful. Our organizations benefit. And as patients, we all benefit.