Dr. Brian Patty is the former VP and CMIO of HealthEast Care System, a healthcare provider organization in St. Paul, MN. During his 10-year tenure there, he led the organization’s switch to their Epic electronic health record (EHR)—a switch that proved to be a success.
About HealthEast Care System
- Based in the Twin Cities area
- Four hospitals with 800+ beds, 14 clinics
- Now part of M Health Fairview
The Issues with Disparate EHRs in One Health System
At the time, HealthEast used three different EHRs, including an ambulatory EHR (Allscripts) and an inpatient EHR (McKesson), which created an array of issues, including:
- Costly support spread over three platforms
- Difficulty tracking patients across care areas
- Poor interoperability between EHRs and third-parties, leading to disparities between the multiple med lists and problem lists
- High clinician burnout
- Patient service frustrations
The Impetus for the Switch to Epic
The fact that every other health system in the metro area used Epic only compounded these challenges. Joining them would make sharing patients’ health records easier and more conducive to efficient care. Dr. Patty and HealthEast also faced a pressing timeline. They had to renew one of their existing contracts or have a new EHR within 15 months, a daunting timeline for a large health system. With this in mind, the board unanimously voted to switch to Epic.
The Challenge: Consolidating from Three EHRs to One—and Launching—with Little Time
HealthEast had to move quickly. Dr. Patty worked with an internal leadership team to set expectations, understand the total cost of ownership, establish a project scope and associated staff plan, and build a governance structure. Once this pre-implementation plan was in place, he knew there was a gap of nearly 40 individuals, mostly in clinical and revenue cycle analyst roles, to get to the necessary 150 for the project team and to book an Epic training slot.
“We were in a difficult but optimistic position. In the end, we knew this transformation would produce a high return, but how would we find the resources to get to that end state so quickly? It was clear we needed an EHR partner who had supported similar implementations and could integrate quickly.” – Dr. Patty, Former VP and CMIO of HealthEast Care System, Chief Medical Informatics Officer at Medix Technology
The Solution: Cost-Effective, Scalable Staffing of Epic-Certified Talent
Partnering with Medix Technology was the answer. Medix offers a wide range of Epic-specific consulting and staffing solutions and the scale that HealthEast needed. Their MedixDirect program focuses on sourcing local, long-term non-Epic certified talent that Medix trains and certifies entirely at their cost. Those individuals can be brought on for the duration of the project, and the client can choose to convert these individuals to full-time employment, after a year.
In a time when other health systems were pulling in experienced, costly consultants, the MedixDirect program offered an alternative that identified individuals with the right potential to be successful on an Epic project. This also set the health system up for long-term success, as they could retain this talent and their associated knowledge learned through the implementation. This staffing approach resulted in a 40% cost savings compared to traditional consultants.
“While Dr. Patty appreciated our history working with Epic, it was our ability to source the talent locally – our solution sources local clinical/revenue cycle talent who we then certify through Epic, paying for all certification costs – that made this partnership a great fit. Our unique recruiting approach helped Dr. Patty quickly build a team without inflating HealthEast’s original TCO. And allowing our talent to convert onto HealthEast’s payroll creates sustainability in the solution and enabled Dr. Patty to select the best performers to join his team at steady state.” – Luke McGinn, Epic Practice Leader, Medix Technology
The Results: $7.5 Million Saved and High Levels of User Satisfaction
- $7.5 million saved compared to HealthEast’s original implementation staffing budget which called for traditional consultants to fill all of the gaps on the project team.
- 100% on time – There was a staggered go-live period with separate dates for hospitals and clinics, both of which were on time.
- 100% of permanent positions filled – Every permanent EHR support position after go-live was filled by internal staff assigned to the implementation or a MedixDirect professional that transferred to the health system.
- Exceptional user satisfaction – Shortly after launch, the vast majority of users across the health system approved of the EHR.
“While our partnership with Medix was initially about the implementation—a highly successful one—we extended our relationship beyond it. Many of our permanent Epic-support employees came from Medix, and we continued to work together as we scaled and enhanced the platform.” – Dr. Patty
To develop a creative EHR staffing approach that will lead to cost savings and a higher level of user satisfaction, get in touch with our expert team.