How Hackensack Meridian Health CMIO Dr. Lauren Koniaris tackles EHR challenges & changing workflows

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Lauren Koniaris, MD, chief medical informatics officer of the Northern Region at Hackensack (N.J.) Meridian Health, discusses her changing CMIO role and her team's focus for 2019.

Responses are lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: How has your role as CMIO evolved over the past two to three years? How have your responsibilities changed since you took on the role?

Dr. Lauren Koniaris: My job has changed tremendously in the last several years due to the creation of Hackensack Meridian Health, the largest, most comprehensive and integrated health network in New Jersey. I am now helping to oversee the Epic rollout at 16 hospitals, which covers eight counties in the state. To do this effectively, Hackensack Meridian Health will regionalize the CMIO position into three markets: North, Central and South. I very much look forward to our new structure and working with my new CMIO colleagues as they are hired and on-boarded.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you're facing as CMIO? What keeps you up at night?

LK: My biggest challenges are twofold. First, ensuring all clinical workflows and processes at each hospital division are accounted for and modified as needed to ensure safe and effective patient care as the EHR goes live at every hospital.

Second, and this is what keeps me up at night, is ensuring that as these workflows change the physicians across the network continue to receive all patient data, lab and radiology results, etc., for all the patients under their care. Accounting for all the ways in which physicians receive information and how that will change is critical and detail-oriented work for IT departments.

Q: Which apps and technologies do you find most helpful, and which do you think will be passing fads?

LK: I thoroughly embrace the move to mobility in all things related to health IT. I believe our patients want and will continue to demand smartphone, app-based technologies of all types in the coming years. Physicians, as well, are clamoring to be able to do more and more healthcare work utilizing app-based platforms, and I hope the EHR vendors will accelerate the availability to do this in a secure manner.

I think health system IT departments will also be involved more and more in creating in-house applications for their clinicians and patients. I think anything desktop-based will become less and less utilized as time goes on.

Q: What is the vision for your team in 2019? How will you approach your role and meeting your goals?

LK: 2019 is the year that the 'rubber will meet the road' for getting Epic live at all the hospitals in Hackensack Meridian Health. That will obviously be the primary focus for a majority of the IT team — both on the Epic side of the team as well as the associated infrastructure needs.

Our team's approach will be to stay on task and focused day-to-day on meeting all the milestones for this project. I am so excited that once this is completed at the end of the year, Hackensack Meridian Health will be positioned to leverage our EHR to positively impact healthcare throughout the state of New Jersey and beyond.

To learn more about clinical informatics and health IT, register for the Becker's Hospital Review 2nd Annual Health IT + Clinical Leadership Conference May 2-4, 2019 in Chicago. Click here to learn more and register.

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