3…2…1…Blast Off

Saturday (aka D-Day, Epic go-live).  Biking in at 7 on a beautiful if chilly fall morning, it felt like the first day of school.  (Admittedly I was a bit of a nerd, and always looked forward to the start of school.)  And indeed, the mood was a lot like that: excitement mixed with anxiety, a high level of energy in part from having lots of people around that maybe you hadn’t seen in a while (ASCs seemed to be coming out of the woodwork) and in part from all the food lying about.  And of course, a new toy: Epic.

Overall I have to say, a fantastic day.  Personally, I saw that my modest investment in personalization and practicing in the playground paid off; it took me far less time to get up to speed than I had feared, and Epic wasn’t so scary after all.  Sure there were lots of small things, of varying impact ranging from minor annoyance to potential lost revenue, but some of these were fixed literally as I watched.  From the larger perspective, I couldn’t have been prouder to be a part of this.  A few observations:

  • An enormous number of dedicated people high on the mood elevator.  People were almost giddy about how well things seemed to be going.  Even those who came in for atypical weekend clinics and elective OR cases, willing volunteers to be in the first wave assault
  • Providers and staff remained focused on the thing that matters most – providing the best care and experience for patients and their families
  • Huge leadership shadow – Peggy and her direct reports in the hospital in the middle of the night, going around checking on everyone; Mike Naumann, Stephanie Lenzner, and their legions of people demonstrating calmness and optimism despite what must have been anxiety of the pants-wetting variety
  • An incredibly well-planned support system, one that has to be among the best practices anywhere
  • Families were patient and understanding about delays and hiccups.  Some shared with me that they had their own experience with an EHR at their providers and were excited to see Children’s embracing it. 

Monday.  Hmm, this was supposed to be stabilization, but it felt more like destabilization.  Everyone knows the story – unplanned downtime for 6 hours just when we had hoped to be ramping up and building on the great weekend experience, then persistent access and stability problems, all on top of the expected relatively minor but nonetheless troublesome glitches.  The mood elevator seemed destined to go into negative territory.  And yet….

  • Once again, there was an abundance of goodwill among all of the providers and staff – assuming good intent – despite the enormous strain of switching to paper, downtime recovery, lost work and set-backs, and the uncertainty of “is this going to happen again tomorrow?”  The ED handled a higher than average census, the OR dealt with a full load including a Berlin Heart case, Oncology clinic managed a number of sicker than usual patients – but everyone I saw as I went around said “We’re doing fine – we’re figuring it out.”
  • We had a few things to learn about how to handle system downtime and the best ways to communicate, but by and large that support system was perhaps even more effective than over the weekend.  A new support area for downtime was set up literally in minutes.  Communication up and down the chain was smooth and effective.  Work arounds were being developed and shared.
  • As always, we did what we always do – we put patients and families first.

Tuesday.  So far so good.  Perhaps we can just forget about yesterday and call a do-over.  But I hope not, because I want to remember the resilience and determination I saw, the fact that despite everything the mood elevator never went below “curious.”  Which is always the best place to start.

Please feel free to share your comments about how your experience has been so far.


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