Boulder Community Health CIO: Demand excellence from your team and 'take extremely good care of them'

As vice president and CIO, Michael Jefferies spearheaded Boulder (Colo.) Community Health's recent EHR transition to Epic.

Mr. Jefferies joined BCH in June 2016 after serving as vice president of information systems at Longmont (Colo.) United Hospital. At Longmont, Mr. Jefferies oversaw the hospital's Meaningful Use EHR targets and was responsible for implementation and oversight of all applications.

Here, Mr. Jefferies discusses BCH's Epic go live, which moved the hospital and its physician clinics in October from two separate EHR systems to a single platform, as well as his top priorities surrounding the project.

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: What impact will the new Epic EHR have on clinician workflows?

Michael Jefferies: Our clinicians will have more information about the patient at their fingertips than ever before. For starters, we are now connected to Carequality, a national health information exchange network as well as Epic's Care Everywhere network for interoperability. After our first week, we had already exchanged records with 290 unique organizations from California to Florida. Physicians will also have advanced decision support. For example, when providers e-prescribe a medication, they will see the cost of the medication for the patient based on their insurance along with lower-cost alternatives for the patient. The physicians can be better informed when prescribing, enabling them to give our patients an optimal medication at the best price.

Q: As CIO, what has been your No. 1 priority leading the Epic implementation?

MJ: My most important priority is ensuring that our patients have an enhanced experience with Boulder Community Health. We want their entire interaction with us to be improved through technology. I am especially excited about the new capabilities our patients will have to interact with BCH, like our MyBCH mobile application. They can now schedule appointments with their primary care physician online at their convenience and complete pre-visit registration from home. 

Early in our implementation, our leadership team developed a core set of guiding principles for the project, which have acted as a 'North Star' in defining our approach and guiding our decisions. We put these principles on every single project document and even had a music video to share with our employees. Our first and most important principle is to keep the patient at the center of every decision. Decisions that may appear far removed from the patient, such as how we coordinate billing between ambulatory or hospital settings, can have a significant impact on the patient experience when they receive a bill from us. 

Q: What advice would you offer to other health systems on EHR implementations?

MJ: Before beginning your EHR implementation, spend time establishing your values and what you want to achieve in the implementation. A project of this size can be overwhelming, and it's astounding how many very consequential decisions leaders will face in a short period of time. Establishing specific values for the project helps facilitate decision-making that leads to the outcomes you want, even when those decisions result in difficult changes.

It's also important to recognize the importance of having extraordinary people on your team. Demand excellence from your project team and organizational leaders and then take extremely good care of them. At the end of the day, your success is entirely dependent on the people in your organization.

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