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Special Holiday Delivery: Meditech 6.0

January 10, 2011
by Bobbie Byrne
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Time for a vendor Christmas “gift”?

Christmas is over and I hate this time of year. While everyone else is pitching their tree out onto the boulevard, I will search for any excuse not to de-decorate. This year, I did not need to look far. Meditech delivered our Christmas gift on December 27th.

We are implementing Meditech 6.0 with a planned go live on May 1st. Our initial go live had been November, 2010. We pushed it back for some specific workflow enhancements that were needed mostly for the emergency department workflows. Edward’s emergency department rocks. It has excellent processes and great staff. It is almost paperless. The patient satisfaction scores are among the highest in the nation. The wait times are so reasonable that we advertise them. There was no way that IT was going to muck that up!

Meditech responded and we planned a new go live on Priority Pack 7 (or PP7 as we affectionately call it) delivered in December. Our military-style project manager has us all marching to the new timeline. There are blocks of unit testing, regression testing, integrated testing, parallel testing and every other kind of testing you can dream up. We have a rigorous “go-no go” decision date, purposely set prior to the beginning of training. Once we start training, we are spending money so fast we might as well be tearing up $100 bills.

Meditech has a reputation for delivering clean code. Not perfect, but better than most vendors. I was particularly worried about PP7, though, because this is not your typical software delivery. Meditech is under pressure with this release. They could not really change the scope of the release or the timing. This is the version Meditech plans to take to certification. Security changes are in this release, foundational work that can sometimes have unintended consequences. It is chock-full of feature/functinality, for us and for other customers. My concern was that Meditech would not be able to take the time to adequately test prior to release. I had some warning signs the week prior to code delivery with last minute technical configuration changes and some required new servers.

I was holding my breath when I walked the cubes last week to hear the real scoop on how it was going. What I heard was actually pretty anti-climactic: many, many, many small issues, but only one big issue. We are having enough trouble to give me confidence that we are adequately banging on the code, but not so much trouble that I want to run screaming from the building.

I know that we have several rounds of testing to go and a laundry list of things to be fixed, but my post-holiday procrastination is over. It is time to take down the Christmas trees and lights. It is looking like May 1st will arrive before we know it.

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Comments

Best of luck with your 6.0 go-live. This has been a real challenge for MEDITECH. 6.0 is such a significant change for sites like Edward that are moving from Magic that many have decided to look at other products. After all, it is truly a 'forklift' upgrade, replacing virtually everything from the hardware on up. It is a tough-enough upgrade for client/server sites.

I think the most important part though is the organizationl preparation and the people leading the effort. I know Edward well and it has great organizational and IT leadership. MEDITECH sells product. They are not very good about clinical transformation or process reengineering. That is where the strength of the internal resources and/or external consultants comes in.

MEDITECH does generally deliver solid code as you say although I must say I've seen this 6.0 relesae strain their development and especially client support resources. We upgraded last year to their client/server 5.4 release that included some of the 6. 0 foundational pieces and had more than our normal share of go-live issues. Happily it stabilized fairly quickly. I know 6.0 is that and more so I'm glad you are lookng forward to this instead of dreading it. I wish you all the best!

Thank you so much for your good wishes. I agree with you and we purposely do not call this an "upgrade" because it really is a re-install with some conversion tools. All of the clinical transformation credit goes to the IS and the superusers who have given their lives for this project for over a year!

Because of all this hard work, our team is really looking forward to go-live, even knowing there will be a lot of bumps!

Bobbie Byrne

Vice President for Health Information Technology at Edward Hospital in Naperville, Ill

Bobbie Byrne M.D. writes about being a community hospital CIO all the while trying to figure out...