July 2011

Change Leadership Supports ePharmacist Direct’s Expansion


CHI takes a flexible approach to providing telepharmacy services to rural hospitals, creating an environment in which CHI's Change Leadership methodology and tools can help accelerate the change process at both CHI and non-CHI facilities.

The ePharmacist Direct program, based in Fargo, ND, provides 24-hour clinical pharmacy support services to critical access hospitals and other remote facilities. ePharmacist Direct is now linked to 17 hospitals, including facilities inside and outside of CHI.

"The hospitals we work with have huge variation in pharmacy staffing levels and information technology capabilities," said Shelley Johnsen, RPh, director of the ePharmacist Direct program. "Some telepharmacy service providers require client sites to meet specific staffing and equipment requirements, but we don't take that approach. We are willing to work with what each hospital has in place."

For example, some hospitals have automated medication dispensing stations that help to ensure a caregiver has the correct medication for a patient. At other locations, caregivers must bring medication containers to a web camera so ePharmacist Direct's pharmacist on duty can verify that the medication is correct.

"If we demanded that hospitals meet specific technology requirements before implementing our service, it would prevent many from taking this important step and thereby would detract from safe patient care, and that's not our goal," said Johnsen. "But, we do want our client sites to commit to working with us to develop solutions."

That's where the Change Leadership methodology and tools prove valuable. "We partner with our Master Change Agent, JudyAnn Mundis Stephen, to use the Change Acceleration Process (CAP) and the WorkOutTM process whenever we bring a new site on board," said Johnsen. "For example, WorkOut helps us get all the right people to work out issues together. Basically, the process just doesn't allow anyone to walk away until we reach a solution."

While Johnsen originally thought that Change Leadership would be useful for the first few sites to implement ePharmacist Direct, she now brings the methodology into the implementation process for all new sites. "Implementing the services of ePharmacist Direct involves changes in the workflow within the pharmacy, in the administration of medication to patients, and in staff relationships and accountabilities," she said. "By using Change Leadership and WorkOut, we've been able to successfully remove some significant barriers to our services, which enhances the safety and well-being of patients and staff in those facilities."

For more information about Change Leadership, contact JudyAnn Mundis Stephen.