Parkview Adventist Medical Center is a 55-bed, faith-based community hospital located in Brunswick, Maine. It has been serving the healthcare needs of the residents of midcoast Maine since 1959. Affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Parkview is one of about 70 acute care Adventist hospitals in the United States and about 200 worldwide. Earlier this year, Parkview became one of 24 hospitals nationwide recognized by HIMSS Analytics for achieving the Stage 6 award. Recently, HCI Associate Editor Kate Huvane Gamble spoke with Assistant Vice President and CIO Bill McQuaid about what it took to realize this accomplishment, his plans going forward, and the importance of involving clinicians in discussions and making it as easy as possible for them to access patient data.
KG: It seems like you have a good staff that’s fully on board with a shared goal — I would think that is key to success.
BM: The thing that’s unique at Parkview is we built this whole thing without any consulting. I have an IT staff of six and we did everything, including the hardware, from the ground up. My motto was if we can’t do it ourselves, we shouldn’t do it. Because what I’ve noticed in healthcare is people change their mind so much — it’s like a squirrel crossing the road, they just can’t decide what to do.
My thought is I’ve been doing for a while, and I know that things just change, whether it’s hospital itself, or a rule or regulation change. And what we said, is any project we can’t do with our own resources, we shouldn’t do.
KG: That’s a smart philosophy, particularly in today’s economic climate.
BM: When I built my team, a lot of them didn’t have healthcare experience. A positive, can-do attitude is what I wanted — with bullet-proof skin, because they’re going to come at you. But I’ve had zero turnover in my department in nine years. The nurse I have running everything has been a nursing supervisor, she’s been in the OR, she’s been in the ICU, and on MedSurg. We have that person in there building our systems, whose focus is, it can never be good enough, and she can also feel the pain of the doctors. She can put herself in the doctors’ shoes and see what’s going to come at her. So when she’s building an order set, she knows that every click matters.
And even on pharmacy, everyone has the attitude of, if it’s not right, let’s do it over again. So now when a project comes up, we can all meet in a room, throw the project on the table, everyone brainstorms and we’ll probably have a solution within a week. But some people are thinking two years. It’s really that simple the way it works. Either you have a lot of money or you have the right methods.
KG: I think that everyone assumes that large systems have the edge because they have more resources, but maybe that isn’t necessarily the case. You can’t just throw money at solutions to make them work.
BM: It’s funny you say that. When we were first going with Meditech, they asked who we were going to use for our hardware vendor, who was going to help us implement it, who was going to do project management. And I said, we’re going to do all that. They said, no one’s ever done that, it’s impossible. And then when we did it, they said, well, you can do that because you’re smaller. So we get it from both ends.
But it’s small enough that I know all the key players and who’s who. I don’t use email to communicate — if it’s one-on-one, I go out to the floors. I was going in on third shift talking to the nurses and listening to them. A lot of my successes were because the key people I used for a lot of these projects were the naysayers, all the negative Nellies. Probably 90 percent of the time, I’d bring them in as part of the team. Like in the ED, for example, my team thought I was crazy when I picked the person that I did. But I said, you bring her on, you get her in a positive environment, she gets motivated — then you bring that person back to the department with all that excitement, it doesn’t get any better than that.
KG: So the key is to convince the skeptics.
BM: That’s why I did it. We were so confident in what we could do and what we would do for them, that I’d bring the most skeptical person. And why not? It’s worked out great for us. We made it fun for them, they feel appreciated — it was a no-brainer.
And people ask how I can afford that, but I actually pay less now in support and maintenance than I used to, just from being a single vendor. So I actually did this as a cost saving mechanism as well.
KG: And I’m sure you save a few headaches.
BM: Yeah – when I upgrade now, we upgrade the whole hospital at one time. We upgrade once a year — from business office to HR to materials management. Everybody gets upgraded at the exact same time, and everybody’s testing at the same time. So you bring your groups in, your super users come in, and you’re done for the year, or two years, depending. We take three months, we upgrade, and then we continue moving forward.
KG: So by cutting through the red tape, you’re able to get things done in a quicker and more efficient way?
BM: Exactly. And then when you have an issue, you’re working with one vendor. You can form your relationships. I had people on every time zone before, and they’d get acquired by this company, and then they’d tell me I need $100,000 because we’re moving to this platform, but I didn’t budget for it because I didn’t know about it. I don’t deal with that at all anymore.
KG: That brings up another good point. With so many mergers and buyouts, I’m sure it’s tough to decide on a vendor, and it’s scary.
BM: That was huge with my vendor search, to find out who’s stable, who’s doing what. You have to be nervous about the vendors that go out and jump on every new thing that’s out there. I want to be moving like this, because you get a much stronger foundation, and you’re leaning toward technologies that are sticking, and you’re heading in the right direction.