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The following is an interview with Rebecca Manne, RN, BSN – Executive Vice President, EHR Implementation at Optimum Healthcare IT by Healthcare IT Today, to learn about their recent experience doing a virtual Epic Go-Live at Valley Children’s Healthcare. This interview was part of the site’s #HealthIT100in100 series.

Healthcare IT Today: Tell us more about yourself and Optimum Healthcare IT.

My name is Rebecca Manne, and I am the Executive Vice President of EHR Implementation at Optimum Healthcare IT. I have over 40 years of clinical nursing experience in both inpatient and outpatient environments, along with more than 15 years of experience in healthcare technology. I joined Optimum as the Practice Director with the responsibility of building our training and activation practice. To date, we have completed over 150 training and go-live projects.

Optimum Healthcare IT is a Best in KLAS healthcare IT staffing and consulting services firm based in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Optimum provides world-class professional staffing services to fill any need as well as consulting services that encompass advisory, EHR implementation, training and activation, EHR optimization, community connect, managed services, enterprise resource planning, security, and ancillary services – supporting our client’s needs through the continuum of care. Our organization is led by a leadership team with extensive experience in providing expert healthcare staffing and consulting solutions to all types of organizations.

Healthcare IT Today: You just completed a 100% virtual Epic Go-live with Valley Children’s Healthcare.  How did that go?  Why didn’t they just wait until you could be onsite?

Rebecca Manne: The Valley Children’s Go-live went extremely well.  We are, in fact, into Week 4 of the go-live and continue to leverage our virtual team to assist the Valley co-workers as their volumes of patients and procedures begin to increase. Valley Children’s felt it was very important to continue with their activation plans to bring the entirety of the healthcare partners from seven separate platforms to a single EHR platform.  Because of our strong partnership with them over the course of more than a year, Optimum was able to work collaboratively with Valley to parallel a virtual readiness and support experience as close to the onsite experience as possible.

Healthcare IT Today: Which aspects of a go-live were harder to do virtually, and what did you do to make those challenges palatable?

Rebecca Manne: With all of our activation projects, we look forward to the “in-person” experience of truly working side-by-side with our client partners, as well as our resource team.  One of the most difficult aspects was not getting to be physically present onsite and interact personally.  Thank goodness, however, our technologies were able to bring us as close as possible to that true personal interaction.

One of the other challenges that we have already refined was the connectivity points and technical dress rehearsals to ensure that when a Valley co-worker had a need, we were accessible just as if they were waving us over to them in their departments.  To accomplish this, we utilized a variety of platforms to facilitate collaboration within our team as well as the client partner, which was instrumental in our success.

Healthcare IT Today: Were there things that were easier, more effective, less cost, etc. because it was done virtually?

Rebecca Manne: Surprisingly, several aspects of the virtual model are easier – quick collaboration, increased productivity due to negating the need to “travel to/from work,” and scalability to meet any spikes in end-user issues.

The elimination of travel and logistic costs is a very attractive benefit to our client’s budgets.  Those savings can be applied to more deliberate initiatives to either prepare or “ready” the end-users, or provide dedicated support to known areas of concern.

Healthcare IT Today: What was holding us back from EHR go-live’s being virtual before COVID-19?

Rebecca Manne: Pre-COVID, there had been discussions about how to handle go-lives in a more creative and less costly manner.  I have always been an advocate of recommending a team that has the right skill sets, in the right numbers, for the right amount of time. Technology has come a long way, allowing us to target what is appropriate to be done in a virtual model, and what might be best served in an onsite model.

Healthcare IT Today: Do you think this is the future of EHR implementations and go-lives?  Or do you think we’ll go back to onsite?  Or will we see a hybrid?

Rebecca Manne: I truly believe that as we move into the coming months, we will utilize virtual solutions more consistently with a hybrid approach of virtual and onsite as appropriate.

Healthcare IT Today: Seems like many have delayed EHR go-lives because they’re too busy with COVID-19.  What do you see happening with EHR go-lives over the next couple years and that market?

Rebecca Manne: While many of our client partners have had to postpone their go-live initiatives, most have already begun to plan their new timelines.  However, COVID and any potentials for a resurgence in the fall remain in those new plans. While we discuss these new potential target dates for go-live,  we will continue to consider not only COVID potentials but also possible flu season impacts.  Having this success at Valley Children’s as well as with several other initiatives, we can make solid recommendations with clear metrics to our client partners, providing the confidence to our client partners that whether their path is an onsite or virtual model, we can fully support their transformational projects.

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