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HIMSS 2008--Allina on a Roll

Gary Baldwin, for HealthLeaders Media, February 27, 2008
One piece of conventional wisdom around healthcare IT implementations is that "big bang" deployments--the rapid, broad conversion to new systems--are too risky. However, for Allina Hospitals and Clinics, an 11-hospital, $2.53 billion integrated delivery system based in Minneapolis, the big bang approach has worked well.

Allina is the winner of the 2008 HIMSS Davies Organizational Award, an annual prize given to a recognize innovation through the use of IT. In a multi-year effort to standardize its hospitals on a common EMR platform, Allina found that converting a hospital is easier to do all at once, rather than force caregivers to use hybrid paper/digital systems. "Caregivers can take the change," said Susan Heichert, vice president health information and systems.

Using software from Epic, Allina now has an integrated record across its enterprise, which encompasses 5,000 affiliated physicians. Allina brought its member hospitals up to speed on the new technology one by one, but it did not postpone the introduction of computerized physician order entry, or CPOE, during the go-live. Initially, Allina held off on the CPOE component, but found that even for physicians, the hybrid world was too confusing.

The health system is now generating enormous amounts of digital data--adding some four gigabytes every day. For more information about the Davies award, listen to this podcast interview.

--Gary Baldwin