Orlando Health's Epic program exec: 3 insights for a successful EHR implementation

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Sherry Buxton, RN, is at the helm of Orlando (Fla.) Health's two-year EHR transition to Epic, which includes a 130-member implementation team.

Ms. Buxton brings her previous leadership experience as Orlando Health's assistant vice president and chief surgical officer at Orlando (Fla.) Regional Medical Center to her role as assistant vice president and Epic program executive at Orlando Health.

Here, Ms. Buxton discusses her top priorities as leader of the Epic implementation, which is expected to complete in early 2021, and how she keeps her team members engaged on the project.

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: What has been your No. 1 priority leading the Epic implementation at Orlando Health?

Sherry Buxton: Ensuring that we build a solid and integrated team. This is critical due to the wide diversity of the implementation, which will impact all of Orlando Health, but most critically, clinical, population health, revenue cycle and information technology. So, I aimed to build a very well-rounded team first and foremost. But it is also critical that there is overall awareness, understanding and engagement across the board, which will be vital to project success. Therefore, another important priority of mine is to ensure that all 23,000-plus team members know what we're doing, why we're doing it, whom we're doing it for and what the future holds for us.

Q: How do you keep Epic team members engaged?

SB: Orlando Health has been fortunate in having significant interest from our team members in the Epic implementation. In addition to myself, the project team includes 11 other leaders who held various positions across the organization. Together, we manage more than 130 team members directly involved in this initiative. This team is acutely aware of the importance of their role in driving the future of Orlando Health. We have employed several traditional and unique approaches to building awareness and understanding of our goal, and the benefits the implementation will bring to patients and the community, as well as team members. Most, for now, center on an integrated communication strategy that's focused on educating and engaging leaders so they can effectively message to their teams. We use internal vehicles like our intranet, electronic publications and promotional materials to build and sustain awareness and engagement.

Q: How has the Epic team benefited Orlando Health's EHR transition?

SB: Having a dedicated Epic implementation team who have not only become experts in the system, but also, they take ownership and are committed to a successful transition is beneficial. Bear in mind, our implementation has not occurred yet. The main benefit right now, however, is the excitement and enthusiasm among team members for this important, long-term change that will serve our patients, customers and physicians so well.

Q: What advice would you offer to other health systems embarking on the EHR implementation process?

SB: I am still early in my leadership of this project. However, understanding that this is an enormous endeavor for any institution, preparing for the change that will be required and getting support from front-line team members, physicians and other key stakeholders is critical to a successful implementation.  

To participate in future Becker's Q&As, contact Jackie Drees at jdrees@beckershealthcare.com.

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