ER doc makes fast IT tran­si­tion

Modern Healthcare - - INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY -

Time isn’t al­ways on Dr. Ryun Harper’s side. The physi­cian in­for­mati­cist and emer­gency medicine spe­cial­ist be­gan his health in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy ca­reer un­der mi­nor duress at 323bed St. Fran­cis Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Lyn­wood, Calif., and then things re­ally sped up.

Harper, now 39, was the youngest per­son in his emer­gency medicine group work­ing at the hos­pi­tal in 2004 when it planned to im­ple­ment an elec­tronic health-record sys­tem in the ED, com­plete with com­put­er­ized physi­cian or­der en­try. The lead­er­ship of the group looked around for some­one to head up the im­ple­men­ta­tion. When their eyes turned to Harper, it was time to learn IT—fast.

“I didn’t even like com­put­ers to be­gin with,” con­cedes the win­ner of a 2013 AMDIS Award from the As­so­ci­a­tion of Med­i­cal Di­rec­tors of In­for­ma­tion Sys­tems. “I was the youngest per­son in the group, and I was up for part­ner and so I didn’t have a choice. I took on the re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

A few years later, lead­ers of the Daugh­ters of Char­ity Health Sys­tem, the six-hos­pi­tal group that op­er­ates St. Fran­cis, came call­ing. Not­ing his past suc­cess in the ED, “They asked

if I would as­sist them in im­ple­ment­ing an EHR they se­lected for all of their hos­pi­tals.”

“I wish I had had more in­put in the se­lec­tion,” he says, “but my role was to re­ally help them once they made the se­lec­tion and get the physi­cians in­volved.”

He also wished he would have had more time to im­ple­ment it. St. Fran­cis was the first hos­pi­tal to “go live”—on June 9, 2012. That meant they had to achieve 90 days of “mean­ing­ful use” of the new EHR be­fore the fis­cal year ran out Sept. 30. “We had to be ready to re­port July 1,” he re­calls. “You ba­si­cally had three weeks to start re­port­ing ev­ery­thing.”

Health IT work is of­ten like that in the emer­gency depart­ment, he says. “You don’t have a lot of time for trial and er­ror,” but, “ev­ery­body stepped up to the plate and did what they needed to do.”

Harper says he brings an emer­gency physi­cian’s mind­set to his IT work. “It gives you a slight ad­van­tage for two rea­sons,” he says. “You deal with life-threat­en­ing stress on a daily ba­sis and, you have to de­velop prob­lem-solv­ing skills. You have to deal with this prob­lem now, and then you work with your ven­dor to come up with a long-term so­lu­tion.”


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