November/December 2007

CHI Connect at the Halfway Point

A Message from Michael Rowan Chief Operating Officer, Catholic Health Initiatives

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A series of presentations during the six months prior to implementation at Saint Elizabeth Health Systems, Lincoln, Neb., introduced members of the management team to specific areas of CHI Connect. Cathie McBride-Hilzer, value analysis coordinator for Saint Elizabeth, used shopping as a metaphor for the process of ordering supplies.

Another 8,000 employees moved into the future October 1 as they went live on CHI Connect. Some felt elation, others frustration. All of these employees at Good Samaritan Health Systems, Kearney, Neb.; Saint Elizabeth Health Systems, Lincoln, Neb.; St. Mary’s Community Hospital, Nebraska City, Neb.; St. Joseph Regional Health Network, Reading, Pa.; and St. Joseph Medical Center, Towson, Md., are learning new business processes, using new technology, as we build a “common information backbone” across Catholic Health Initiatives. I applaud them and the implementation team — and all our employees who have gone live as part of earlier waves — for working through the challenges. CHI Connect is our system-wide initiative to centralize and standardize many of our system’s core business functions. When our Wave 3 facilities go live January 1, more than half of our employees will be connected. That’s a tremendous feat. Now is a good time to consider what we have learned to make implementation smoother for the rest of our employees and facilities. Improving Implementation Our local and national implementation teams have moved mountains. The process and result isn’t always as neat and tidy as we would hope, and there is always something to be learned. Following go-live, they discuss what lessons can be applied to improve future implementations and what decisions, processes and policies they believe should be reconsidered. We are all learning and improving. Here is a sample of specific issues they have addressed and what they mean for our next facilities going live:
  • New human resources processes put an unexpected burden on managers who are creating and changing positions. We will adjust the system so local human resources can lighten managers’ loads, and managers who are live on CHI Connect will have fewer position data fields to enter into HR/Payroll Connection.
  • Materials management managers in the early waves were concerned about their inability to go on-line to preview CHI Connect. A new exploration process allows them to become proficient with processes such as using shopping lists and approvals. Now, materials management managers are prepared to support others, making go-live smoother.
  • Requisitioning training has been redesigned to better meet the range of needs of various departments. For most, basic requisitioning training is sufficient and time-efficient. However, some users have more complex needs, such as those who order supplies for catheterization laboratories. A new, advanced requisitioning course prepares them.
  • To work through procurement issues and processes, materials managers now have a single contact at the Procurement Support Center and a weekly call with support center and implementation team representatives during the first month on CHI Connect.
  • Some facilities, such as hospitals fulfilling magnet hospital requirements, need help tracking academic degrees for nurses and other clinicians. Soon, HR/Payroll Connection will have the added ability to track these degrees.
Even after go-live, our facilities continue to share important lessons. Human resources and supply chain have formed advisory councils of representatives from facilities that are live to provide an ongoing forum for feedback and recommendations. We owe a special thanks to the pioneers in the first eight market-based organizations to go live, and our national employees. Their experiences and willingness to share have made CHI Connect better for everyone. Standardization for the Good of the System Standardization may feel like your choices are being taken away. Our hope is you will see benefit from greater efficiency and will agree that the trade-off is worth making. We can’t be fair and efficient with 164 different accrual rates for paid time off policies across Catholic Health Initiatives. Yet as market-based organizations choose among options that lead to greater standardization, some employees lose out for the overall good of the system. I’m sorry for that. Our employees work hard and we try to be fair to all as we strive to make decisions that benefit the greatest number of employees. I know that some facilities have timekeeping processes and systems that work well for them. I understand. For some, it is necessary to take a step back so that as a system we can leap forward. An Eye to the Future CHI Connect is about walking our talk. Our mission calls us to transform health care. That’s pretty tough to do when we have computer systems that don’t talk to one another, policies that are at cross purposes and employees who have learned business practices that work for an individual hospital, but not for a system. We know CHI Connect can be improved. With a project this big and this complex, it is not possible to know all the improvements needed until it has been implemented. The CHI Connect team is working now with executive sponsors, chief financial officers and human resources leaders on ways to optimize the system for those facilities that are already live as well as those in future waves. CHI Connect is vitally important to our future. We all need to change together. That’s what it will take to keep our ministry strong so we can keep serving our communities better.

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