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  • July 12 2012

    Relationships, people, they are important in all aspects of life, including business.

    When we began thinking about what EHR we would use to meet the upcoming Federal EHR mandates, we knew we would be taking on a challenge that was larger and more significant than most of the projects we had undertaken in the past. We would be making a selection and beginning a process that would define our future, set the stage for our development and be a core element of our organization for many years to come. This was important and it had to be done right. How would a small hospital with 150 employees and 10 physicians do this, along with the multiple other tasks that already challenge us each and every day as we try to provide the best, safest, most efficient and most effective care for our patients?

    We knew we needed a partner, not a vendor. We needed relationships, and we needed people.

    People who were willing, and able, to mentor, guide, work alongside and partner with us. We knew that if we purchased a “product” from a “vendor” who was not a partner, we would fail, and failure was not an option. To fail would likely result in the demise of our community hospital because we could not afford to “try again."

    In order to “step out there” and invest your future with someone, it requires trust. You must trust that they will do what they say they will do, that they will be there with you when the unexpected occurs, and you must trust that they care enough about the relationship and your needs to be flexible regarding their needs. Our experience told us that not every business understands partnerships, relationships and trust, has the culture that encourages those things or the people who understand, value and implement them. Cerner seemed to have those people and that culture. But, like any relationship, only time together lets you know for certain.

    Dating Vendors

    During the sales process, you basically “date” a number of vendors. You get to know them and, if they care enough, they get to know you. We did our best to learn as much about the Cerner people and culture as we did the Cerner products. To our pleasant surprise, they did the same. The Cerner associates showed a true interest in our values, our needs, our goals and our fears. As they did so, they worked to develop both a product to address our needs and a relationship based on communication that attended to our values, goals and fears. But, you never really know what will happen after the sale, until after the sale.

    The Implementation

    During implementation, we had Cerner people who were assigned to SRMC that we came to know and value. They were as much Sumner Regional teammates as they were Cerner associates. Implementation is a long, difficult, challenging process. We needed coaches who would guide us, encourage us, help us and push us. Like with any great coach, when the time came for us to perform at “Go Live,” we were prepared.  Did we have frustrations, troubles, and challenges upon “Go Live”? Of course! But throughout the process the people of Cerner remained committed to us, to the process, to the challenge. Our partners struggled alongside us during the hard times and celebrated with us our successes.

    After the Go Live

    We worked side-by-side with our Implementation “teammates” from Cerner for almost a full year. I’ll be honest, it was more than a bit scary to let go of that “safety blanket” and say good-bye. Despite the partnership our two organizations built, we still had fears of being left out on our own. What we found instead was that the Application Management Services (AMS) team had our back. Our fears of being lost in the shuffle of a big company were quickly alleviated by personal connections with AMS staff who quickly demonstrated that not only were they very good at what they do, they care enough to stay on top of our needs, listen to our concerns and care about our people. They not only stay on top of things, they also stay in touch.

    Meeting Meaningful Use standards was also a huge concern for us. We needed to meet these standards for our financial health, as well as to prove that we are worthy of caring for the people in our community in the best possible way. The guidance and one-on-one attention we receive from our Cerner Meaningful Use team has been invaluable. Again, we have personal connections with individuals who are committed to our success.

    The Future...

    My crystal ball has always been more than a bit murky. The future in health care is anything but certain. One thing, however, that helps me sleep at night is knowing that we have a partner in Cerner that will be there with us as we move into that murky unknown. There is a culture there that is pervasive, persistent, and, well, ”real." I have people at Cerner that have become my friends, as well as my colleagues. I have confidence that we are not alone, regardless of what the future might bring.

    Dr. Bean has been employed as the President and CEO of Sumner Regional Medical Center since 2003. Prior to this appointment, he served on the hospital’s board of directors for nine years, including two years as the chairman. He had previously been employed at the Sumner Mental Health Center in Wellington, Kan., as Director of Adult Services, Coordinator of Psychological Testing Services and Coordinator of Emergency Services. Dr. Bean was born in Wellington and graduated from Wellington High School as valedictorian of his class. He is a 1982 graduate of Southwestern College (Winfield, Kan.), where he majored in Psychology. He received his Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Wichita State University in 1985 and his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Wyoming in 1990. Dr. Bean has been involved in many community projects including serving on the Executive Council of the Integrated Community Health Development Program, Wellington Health Care Authority Board, Sumner Emergency Youth Shelter Board, Parents Helping Parents Advisory Board, Communities that Care Committee, Sumner County Community Drug Action Team, Wellington Kiwanis Club, and the SRMC Endowment Foundation Board. He has also served as a Disaster Response Mental Health Trainer for the American Red Cross, as a Co-chairperson on the Domestic Violence Task Force for Sumner County. He also currently serves on the Kansas Hospital Education and Research Foundation Board of Directors, the Board of Directors of Impact Bank, and as a Board Member of the Kansas Healthcare Collaborative. For leisure, Dr. Bean runs distance races, rides his motorcycle and plays drums in a Blues Band. Dr. Bean and his wife, Valerie, have a son, Ren, born in 1995.

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