Unity Health System (Rochester, NY) is home to one 346-bed hospital, more than 70 ambulatory sites, one home health agency and three nursing homes. While it’s had electronic health records (EHRs) at its ambulatory sites since 2004 and in the hospital since 2006, Unity wanted to improve its connectivity. It set strategic priorities to enable better clinical integration, analytics and care coordination.

The answer was a Health Information Exchange (HIE) called u.Net Connect, powered by dbMotion. The goal is to provide access to relevant clinical information to improve patient care, patient engagement and overall efficiency. The system went live in October 2012.

John Glynn, senior vice president and CIO, and Phyllis Larder, RN, MSN, clinical informatics analyst, shared Unity’s experiences at a recent dbMotion client conference. These tips are helpful if you’re about to embark on an effort to drive clinical adoption of a new system:

1)      Don’t make them learn another password. Unity learned quickly from users that single sign-on was a key ingredient to success. It also helped reinforce the message that u.Net Connect is a helpful tool, not another separate EHR to learn.

2)      Get consensus before you build. About 80% of your success depends on how you design the system. Engage clinicians early, and make them part of the selection process and design discussions. Unity advises consulting a variety of users, including physicians, nurses and social workers.

3)      Design with ease of use in mind. Try and find ways to make the data consistent between systems, for example with vocabulary mapping and logical flow of information. Also, make accessing the EHR easy from different locations.

4)      Security is important. Define user roles and limit views based on job requirements.

5)      Keep out-of-the-box options. Reduce complexity by working with the system as it is, and limit changes.

6)      Test and review as you go. Unity tested data integrity with a five-step process, used validation testing with key end users, training demos and other methods.

7)      Support your go-live with helpful resources. Users had plenty of places to turn for help in the early days after launch. Unity provided a command center for the first three days, a bridge line, support staff in assigned areas, communications via the organization’s intranet, posters, overhead announcements, e-mails and face-to-face meetings.

These tips helped make u.Net Connect a success. What advice would you add for a successful HIE implementation?

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About the author

Wendy Lynch, RN, is a clinical solutions specialist with dbMotion, recently acquired by Allscripts. She brings a valuable combination of clinical and technical knowledge to her work. An expert in semantics and vocabulary mapping, Wendy applies this knowledge to project implementations at client sites, facilitating clinical adoption of dbMotion systems. Prior to her employment with dbMotion, Wendy worked as an emergency department nurse with UPMC, where she was the top user of HIE technology. She holds a nursing degree from the UPMC St. Margaret School of Nursing, as well as a B.S. in Finance from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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