Welcome back to Optimum Healthcare IT’s “4 Questions with…” series, where we interview top executives in the Healthcare IT space. We search for the leaders with track records of service excellence, who are passionate about their work and make patient safety their top priority. In this installment, we talk with Terri Couts, VP of Clinical Systems and Epic Program, The Guthrie Clinic.
Terri Couts: As the VP of Clinical Systems and Epic Program there are a lot of priorities. If I had to narrow them down to three they would include the following:
Terri Couts: We are positioned in a unique area that is hard to recruit to, but I have found that asking the right questions during the interview process helps with the identification of the right candidate. I like to ask situational questions to understand their thought process on how they would handle a particular scenario. The right candidate should be able to think globally and have a customer service focus. With Epic EMR integration, so many users can be impacted by one change that we need to ensure the staff is partnered with our users in developing the right solution, not just the easiest. When we need to augment, I look for a company that doesn’t view themselves as “us” and “them.” The consultants need to be part of the team. We are a family in IT, including any vendor augmentation we use.
Terri Couts: The biggest challenges for our stakeholders is time for joint design. IT has historically made a lot of decisions that impact the business. We have recently put together a governance structure that has allowed our stakeholders to partner with IT to jointly design workflows and functionality. With the partnership, you have a level of commitment and ownership that carries through operational departments. We are using other tools as well to get the word out ahead of time including voting efforts on changes they find most valuable. The more communication we provide, the better the buy-in.
Terri Couts: I feel that the EHR will change drastically in the next five years. Analytics will be vital to transition from the treatment of symptoms and illness to predictive and prescriptive value enabled care. Discrete documentation will replace free text and will need to have the required aspects. As the health care environment continues to be a political hot mess, it causes confusion in the direction or path we will need to take. We will need to be agile in our technology and acceptance of change to respond to the rapid changes. I think it is hard to understand what I need because there are not clear measurements of what is needed. Technology will be the foundation for how we care for patients, and we will need the right talent and organizational support for sustainability in the future.