CST requires a team approach to be successful

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On the heels of Providence Health Care’s CST go live in November, VCH’s Chief Information Officer Ron Quirk met with VPSA members to talk about the role technology plays in health care. It’s a topic that’s close to Quirk’s heart. Our CIO retired a few years ago, only to be lured back by a carrot that was dangled in front of him: the challenge of beginning to harmonize technology across the province’s six health authorities. (Quirk currently works for PHC and PHSA as well as VCH.)

“More provincial capability was added to my role a couple of months ago that I hope will lead to more provincial planning,” said Quirk, who also now serves as PHSA’s executive vice president of digital information services and innovation. “We need to think more about how patients travel across the province for health care and how their data follow them.”

This is an area where CST is making a difference.  Quirk recalled the story of a patient from Whistler who was referred to Lions Gate Hospital and whose health data were readily available through the new system.  Imagine, said Quirk, how much information we will be able to capture once VGH and BC Women’s and Children’s Hospital come online.

PHC go live and implications for VCH-Vancouver

“Providence Health Care’s CST go live was intense… it was three times larger than the Coastal sites (LGH, Whistler, Pemberton, and Squamish),” said Quirk. “My focus is to ensure the implementation is successful.  We’re three weeks in now at PHC and the support staff will be leaving soon. We want to make sure they are there as long as they are needed but at the same time know we need to continue with the project. It’s a regular discussion with PHC that we are making together.”

Physicians have expressed support of the teamwork shown by the PHC CST group as well as concern about the varying quality of the “elbow support” provided. Why, asked one, did Cerner not appear to apply lessons learned from the hundreds of other launches it has been part of?

“Every Cerner implementation is different,” responded Quirk. “Cerner provides a shell, but each organization tailors the system to represent its specific services, workflows and configurations. Cerner will walk you through it, but ultimately each group makes its own decisions about how their system works. CST does work and the fine tuning can follow. We can and will provide better support resources, especially for future site activations. It’s also important to note the resources we typically use for activation support are not just Cerner resources, they come from other vendors as well.”

One of the most common questions Quirk is now hearing is when will VGH implement CST?  While the current approved roadmap shows a 2020 go-live, responded Quirk, there is work underway to ensure the lessons learned from previous activations inform how we move forward – more to come on specific timelines.

“We want to make sure the technology is ready,” said Quirk. “VGH has higher volumes and many different systems that have to come together.”

Storing data in the cloud is too costly for health authorities which have unique needs, noted Quirk in response to questions about such technology.  Privacy concerns also prevent us from storing information on US-owned and operated services.

“We have the makings of a cloud strategy,” he added. “Cerner has just partnered with AWS [Amazon Web Services} cloud computing services and in three to five years we’ll likely have more cloud-based solutions.”

Coming events

Join us for our next Breakfast with Leaders session on January 8 when VCH Associate Vice President, Medicine, Quality & Safety Dr. Don Griesdale will be our guest. (Register here.) And, VPSA is hosting a CST Townhall event on January 27.  Ask your questions and provide input.  Make sure the physician voice is heard.  Sessional funding provided for VPSA members. (Register here.)

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