Building Team Skills to Win The EHR War

I had the pleasure of being in a small audience to hear Wisconsin’s own Quint Studer speak. Most healthcare folks will recognize Quint as the guru of approaches to achieve great results in hospitals (patient satisfaction, employee engagement, financial performance and quality).

Quint criticized healthcare organizations that have tried to address financial challenges by reducing training budgets. I have been guilty of this short-sightedness in the past. However it is now clear to me that the only way we can continue to address the continually increasing demand for IT is to better leverage our employees. As we ask more employees to lead more complex projects they need the support and education to be successful.

I am working on several fronts to address this. One small but meaningful effort is to encourage employees to read. Recently I sent every IT team member a Barnes and Noble gift card so they can get a book. The only thing I asked in return is that they post a short book review on our internal social networking site (we user Yammer). Some bought traditional books, some of our road warriors bought audio books and others bought ebooks for their nook.

I love the Dave Ramsey quote: “You are the same today as you’ll be in five years except for two things: the books you read and the people you meet.”

I told my team that the book did not have to be related to their work. I did not want people to buy SQL Server Administrator guides that would collect dust on a shelf next to the Lotus 1-2-3 floppies. As I have have blogged in the past, inspiration will come from unlikely sources as long as you are open to it.

To that end I just finished Operation Mincemeat. This is a wonderful non-fiction account of a British WWII deception plot. Toward the end of the book I was struck by this quote:

“Wars are won by men…storming up the beach with all guns blazing…They are won by planners correctly calculating how many rations and contraceptives an invading force will need. By tacticians laying out grand strategy. By generals inspiring the men they command. By politicians galvinizing the will to fight. And, by writers putting war into words.”

At the risk of being overly dramatic, it strikes me that large IT projects (like an EHR) are similar. They need champions willing to take on risks; great planners; people that envision how the system will serve a larger strategy; people at the top that can motivate the team and the users; and people communicating the right message to the right target audience. Contraceptives are probably not so important.

I am also developing a multi-day curriculum for IT Analysts that will make them more effective project leaders and team members. It is essentially a brain dump of everything our IT veterans have learned (often the hard way) implementing healthcare IT systems. I am thinking about opening it up to people outside of our organization. Let me know if you think there would be an interest.

7 thoughts on “Building Team Skills to Win The EHR War

  1. I would also be interested in learning more about this project as it progresses. Sounds like a great idea for all HIT “newbies” to learn something from the veterans.

    Please keep us updated. Might make for a good story for our Healthcare Intelligence Hub e-newsletter.

    – Jennifer

  2. I could not agree more. The whole IT profession is constantly changing and it pays off both personally and corporately to keep everyone’s skills up to date. And it’s not just the tech skills, it’s the people and management skills.

    I don’t know if you know much about North Carolina State University or not, but they have started a mid-career program specifically aimed at teaching these kinds of skills. If you get a chance, check out their blog. It’s a young program and blog, but it’s got some good advice.

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  3. This is absolutely true. This is an all out war. However there is no bootcamp for staff to start trusting people. I am interested in talking about how to make that bootcamp available for IT staff. I have developed it and published it as a 10 week guide, but a bootcamp in two days may be more interesting. If you want to collaborate, please feel free to contact me.

  4. Curious where you got in regard to your curriculum for IT Analysts. We would like to build similar skills. If you did indeed develop anything we would be interested and could possibly contribute. Thanks.

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