By:

Rance Clouser, Vice President, Field Services, Advocate Health Care

Sarah Korf Dill, Client Service Partner, Slalom Consulting

This week at the HIMSS conference, Advocate Health Care and Slalom Consulting challenged healthcare leaders to discover their hidden ROI.  As part of the presentation on February 24, 2014 in Orlando, we shared how Advocate, one of the nation's top 10 health systems and the largest integrated healthcare system in Illinois, achieved dramatic business and clinical results from a unified communication and collaboration initiative – and how others can benefit from the lessons learned. 

Over the course of Advocate’s four-year initiative, a combination of Microsoft, Cisco and custom-developed technologies was deployed, including: a robust telepresence network and digital signage; a unified associate directory; collaboration tools and a new Intranet based on Microsoft SharePoint; and secure HD clinician-to-clinician communications (for sharing text messages, patient notifications, lab results and photos).  In addition, a custom solution developed using SharePoint was launched to provide patient feedback to the right people and departments.  Advocate associates were also upgraded to Outlook for email and to Lync for instant messaging and web conferencing.   This transition resulted in the largest Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) to Office 365 migration to occur at the time, with more than 34,000 seats deployed.

The ROI Advocate achieved wasn’t just a result of what we did, but rather how we did it.  And, our definition of ROI was never exclusively financial.  To be successful meant increasing patient, physician and associate satisfaction, advancing patient safety, and improving communication, collaboration and productivity.  With this in mind, we took a holistic approach with equal focus on people, process and technology. 

People

Organizational commitment and adoption determines the success of any program.  We involved a change management team from the beginning to develop and execute our adoption strategy.  Transparency and communication with stakeholders was the current that tied all aspects of our solution together.

Process

With a four-year roadmap, we needed a program structure that was flexible enough to accommodate changes yet strong enough to support a permanent organizational shift.  Solid governance, including a steering committee and engagement network, enabled us to ensure ongoing clinical, administrative and IT alignment.

Technology

When making technology decisions, the key to our success was focusing on the destination – starting with goals in mind, not specific tools. Based on Advocate’s strategy and objectives, a combination of technologies emerged as the best choice.  Advocate was able to capitalize on best-in-class communication and collaboration tools from Microsoft and Cisco, as well as leveraging the Microsoft SharePoint platform to build custom applications to meet specific business and clinical needs.

As a result, patient experience was improved for the nearly 4 million individuals treated across Advocate’s 12 hospitals and 250 sites of care.  Advocate achieved everything from improved Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers
and Systems (HCAHPS) results, to a reduction in readmission rates and higher levels of quality care. Productivity was dramatically improved productivity and satisfaction increased for Advocate’s 6,300 affiliated physicians and more than 34,000
associates, including nearly 10,000 nurses.  While financial impact wasn’t the primary consideration, the program also resulted in ongoing cost savings/avoidance in the millions of dollars, as well as considerable time savings and increased connectivity, collaboration and productivity across the system. 

Stay tuned to Slalom's blog for additional details after the HIMSS conference.