Mercy reviews their systems for a better patient experience End-shutdown

Mercy, a mass health system based in St. Louis, Missouri, has a special patient experience project coinciding with the opening of the Mercy Center for Performance Medicine and Specialty Care. The organization is bringing new capabilities to improve the patient experience, reduce costs and improve outcomes

Mercy took an experience design approach and built new capabilities using its foundational Epic EHR capabilities along with systems custom built by its development teams and vendors.

“Choosing how to differentiate your organization when it comes to patient/consumer experience is an extremely important strategic consideration for CIOs and digital leaders.” “We must take responsibility for a great experience, but we must also know when and how to use widely available EHR products and capabilities, and when to add or replace capabilities from the EHR consumer experience portfolio with custom capabilities.”

We interviewed Richert to discuss this project in detail so he could share lessons learned.

Q. Describe your project bringing new capabilities to improve the patient experience, reduce costs, and improve outcomes.

TO The Mercy Center for Performance Medicine & Specialty Care is a 272,000-square-foot, high-tech outpatient facility. It is designed and built with the patient experience in mind at all times, offering a seamless experience for patients, visitors, providers and co-workers.

The center furthers our promise to treat all patients as artists seeking to produce at the highest level and establishes Mercy as a partner in the pursuit of a vibrant life through clinical excellence and compassionate care.

When an organization like Mercy comes up with a bold vision like this, it’s an exciting time for healthcare technology and digital teams. We have been able to use the planning period for this new facility to re-imagine an optimal experience for those we care for and our caregivers.

This created a great opportunity for us to partner with our experienced design team who have explored all aspects of the patient and caregiver experience at the center, challenged the status quo, and collaborated with clinical leaders to define the optimal experience.

It’s easy for healthcare technology leaders to install a new technology for a project and claim it’s designed for optimal patient experience, but unless it’s designed around patient experience from the start, then it’s really a mistake. false premise.

We create ways to make arrival and navigation easy, including digitized orientation and digitally enabled concierge service that will change the way patients and families are welcomed into our facilities and guided through their care experience.

By combining the features available in our EHR along with our personalized location-aware digital products, we are able to guide patients to their next steps in care before leaving their appointment. Patients and their families will receive a welcoming experience that they have not expected from their healthcare providers in the past. Plus, their next steps in care can be arranged before they leave the building.

Q. You told me that choosing how to differentiate your organization when it comes to the patient/consumer experience is an extremely important strategic consideration. Please elaborate.

TO One of the strategic themes in our technology organization is pursuing “digital differentiation” – building digital care and relationship management capabilities that go beyond the out-of-the-box offerings of our EHR and CRM providers.

It has been easy in the past to rely on these vendor solutions to define our digital experience with our patients, but we realized that the unique combination of assets we have in our organization and the specific goals we have embedded in our ministry to engage our communities compel us to go further.

As a CIO or digital leader, you need to keep this in mind. There are two extremes to be avoided: a provider that wants to own the digital experience they offer their patients cannot simply trust their EHR provider (without differentiation), but it is also a bad strategy to build or buy entry-level capabilities that your EHR already does it well.

You need to be very aware of the EHR roadmap and select areas of differentiation where you can bring enhanced digital capability beyond what EHR will offer. By avoiding both mistakes, you can optimize your digital spend and still create differentiating services in a fabric of capabilities that includes EHR, custom third-party components, and partners.

Siloed design and knowledge can be the downfall of a mixed architecture, so we need to organize our teams to avoid it. In our case, a product management approach features product managers who know what the optimized patient and clinician experience looks like, and who work with product owners and architects on technology teams to design a cohesive solution.

None of this means that your EHR isn’t part of your innovation roadmap. It absolutely must be because it is the center of gravity of how hospitals and clinics conduct their workflow. Our EHR partner has a constant stream of improvements to their consumer-facing offerings, which we will continue to build on.

Our EHR support teams also have a deep understanding of clinic and hospital operations and have a wealth of experience that we need to deliver solutions that work for our caregivers and integrate well into the EHR workflow.

It’s also important to consider the fact that the analytics capabilities we’ve developed infuse all of our digital assets and channels with AI assistance and optimized recommendations for our patients using those channels.

This ability helps us guide the patient towards the most appropriate and cost-effective channel for their care. It will recommend optimized options for scheduling multiple services and report automations to recommend the next best actions for patients using our contact centers. With 14 years of EHR data, our AI and machine learning models have a very healthy database to learn from.

P. Mercy took an experience design approach and built new capabilities using its foundational capabilities from Epic along with custom built systems from its own development teams and other companies. Explain when, in his opinion, it is better to go to the large incumbent vendor versus in-house teams versus specialized vendors.

TO Starting with what the desired experience is for patients and co-workers, then building the capabilities needed to enable that experience, followed by identifying blended technology approaches to create those capabilities.

When you decide to create digital experiences that go beyond what the EHR can deliver, it requires some commitment to building digital solution engineering capabilities in-house or finding a partner who can build them with you. In our case, we find a balance of both.

We’re confident that creating personalized digital assets is central to our intent to transform the healthcare experience, so we’ve invested in hiring those skills. It’s important that you have the basic skills to define the digital vision and roadmap, but then you can enlist the help of others to accelerate and scale.

That’s where your ability to attract and retain talent is important and having a network of partners that you can gain experience from or delegate parts of your digital development to is critical as well.

EHR providers have strict requirements around third-party access, so it’s always a challenge to get through; however, we have contracted with vendors who can help achieve the capabilities we are trying to develop. Larger third-party providers may be an option, but in our case, we’ve worked with smaller digital innovators to help build our fabric of expertise.

It is important to own our own vision, architecture and digital design. Regardless of the combination of solutions we use, we must maintain the general solution property. This means understanding all of the strengths and weaknesses of each component—EHR, vendor-built internal, and custom—and making sure the integration results in a cohesive fabric that supports a great customer experience.

Q. What is the most important lesson you have learned while working to improve the patient experience?

TO I would say the realization that CIOs and IT leaders need to partner differently than we have in the past. Intrinsically we want to serve our doctors and patients with the technological solutions that we can offer. We have done very well for over a decade of EHR delivery and have achieved great success.

However, in order for our patients to have a personalized, predictive, and proactive experience, we must go beyond offering a suite of solutions that are individually great but are not designed around an overall intuitive and cohesive patient experience. A cohesion between the episodic experiences that our patients need will not happen without intentionally designing around the overall experience.

In our organization, we have worked closely with new teams outside of IT that specialize in designing end-to-end experiences. Our product development team helps identify what capabilities a successful solution designed around the patient experience would include.

We then engage our technology product owners and architects to turn those requirements into solutions, typically iterating with the product team to deliver an MVP followed by continuous improvement cycles.

This is a very different approach than we have done in the past and requires the business to be involved in framing the problem we are trying to solve. This approach avoids the “shiny object syndrome” of cobbled together individual technical solutions that seem individually appealing, but when they overlap without a central patient experience design, they can further complicate the experience.

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