A lot of organizations talk about the need to collaborate during these challenging times. But for UC San Diego Health and UCI Health, it’s much more than just chatter. The two academic health systems recently formed a strategic partnership to increase operational efficiencies and decrease patient care costs by sharing a single instance of Epic. Through this groundbreaking collaboration, they’ve been able to avoid the startup costs associated with rolling out a new EMR application while paving the way for more effective data management, according to Christopher Longhurst, MD, CIO at UC San Diego Health, and Chuck Podesta, CIO at UCI Health.
But it hasn’t been without its challenges, said Podesta, who likened the initiative to a marathon that requires a great deal of preparation and a willingness to keep looking forward. In a letter penned to the leadership teams at both organizations, he acknowledged the enormous effort that has been put forth, emphasized the need for transparency and positivity, and congratulated all involved on a job well done.
Below is the letter he shared.
It’s hard to believe this day has come. Two plus years ago it was an idea that turned into a vision then into a mission. At a recent leadership meeting I quoted Churchill that this was not the beginning of the end but the end of the beginning. I truly believe that!
All of you in this room decided to come along for this journey: UCI, UCSD, Optimum and Epic. Do you know why? Have you asked yourself that question? I’m sure there were times during the project you could not stop asking the question! Is it because it was part of your job, or did you see that this was something bigger than you? Perhaps a chance to make an impact on the patients and communities we serve. Whatever the reason you are now stuck with the result of your decision… and I am forever grateful.
What is about to happen is the culmination of a lot of amazing work by a lot of amazing people. Each of you, along with your teams, is one of them. We have one more day, and we are ready. As one of my favorite musicians wrote, “The waiting is the hardest part.”
For us to be successful with what we are about to embark on, a few things need to happen. First, everyone in this room, right now, in my mind, is a leader. That goes without saying. This means you carry a burden of leadership along with the other responsibilities assigned to you over the coming days. I won’t get into all the attributes a leader has to possess, but I will tell you a few things I do expect. A leader does not say, when faced with a problem, “How did that get dropped during the implementation?” Nor does a leader say, “I can’t believe so and so missed that!” These are negative comments that stifle creativity of the team to solve the problem. We never look backwards. We never go backwards. We always move forward. The measure of a person is not how we behave when things are going well, but how we behave when faced with adversity. I guarantee our respective teams will be watching for this in us. We will pull in anyone we need to solve the problem. This could be the CEO, Housekeeping or others depending on the situation. There is no rank. We cannot and will not tolerate any finger pointing. Ownership of the issue and transparency in all things will see us through.
Second, we need to have each other’s back. This forms a circle. It is a circle of life, a circle of trust. Anyone can join our circle, but we will let no one break it!
Even though we are united in this cause, there are people out there who, for whatever reason, would like to see this effort fail. I’m sure we know some of them. That is why it is so important that we hang together, or as a Founding Father once said, we will surely hang separately.
Individually, there is not one of us that are indispensable, but together there is no doubt we ARE indispensable!
As you know, I am familiar with marathons. It’s 16 weeks of training and 700 miles of running just to get to a race that is over in 4-plus hours. The training is not fun, but race is the prize. We’ve just finished the training. It was not fun, right? Now we are about to carb up for the race. We’ve put in the miles. We are ready. We will cross the start line on Saturday and experience the runners high probably Sunday night, followed by hitting the wall on Monday morning when the clinics open. The calls will come in from all areas to the point that resolution seems insurmountable. But just like a marathon, we will take it one step at a time, solve one problem at a time, and get through the next hour, then the next, and eventually cross that finish line. At that moment you will realize that you can face any challenge presented to you in either your personal or professional lives, because this was the hardest thing you ever did — well, except for maybe a real marathon!
Lastly, please take care of yourself and your teams. We will never pass this way again together, so take a moment to acknowledge the person next to you and your teams. During the go-live, step outside, take a deep breath, and make a moment. I guarantee you will look back on those moments with pride and a sense of accomplishment. When we do cross the finish line, go home to your families, thank them for their contribution to the cause, and do something special with them. They are as much a part of this journey and our success as all of us.
So pick up your glass. Another one of my favorites, Shakespeare said, “From this day to the ending of the world, we in it, shall be remembered. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers of sisters. For thee today that sheds their blood with me shall be my family. We are family! This is our time! This is our house! So Game On!!”