HRO & Epic: Putting Reliable Tools in the Hands of Reliable People

High Reliability Organizations (HRO) are differentiated by their culture. They are connected by a shared vision, a common set of beliefs and values and a common language. HRO culture is embodied by every member of an organization; every RWJBarnabas Health employee has a role to play in contributing to our mission of achieving zero instances of preventable harm. At RWJBH, we call our high reliability work “Safety Together.”

The Epic Communications team recently sat down with Emily Halu, Vice President, High Reliability, RWJBarnabas Health, to discuss how Epic will support our HRO mission in fundamental ways.

“Cultural transformation is only one piece of the high reliability puzzle. Without the structures, processes and technology to support performance as intended, we could never achieve true high reliability. That is why it makes sense to implement Epic Together now,” says Halu.

Read on for more takeaways from our conversation with Emily:

As we continue our Safety Together journey, to succeed as an HRO and achieve zero harm, a technological platform needs to be in place that supports an environment where high reliability culture can reign supreme. This is what the Epic project is all about – putting reliable tools in the hands of reliable people and helping them go from reactive to proactive.

Questioning and Learning: How Epic Supports HRO Culture

High reliability culture is an accountability commitment. It means making the right choice or advocating for the patient’s safety in every instance. To achieve this end, HROs are first and foremost “learning organizations.” This requires becoming comfortable with a learning mindset and a questioning attitude. Learning organizations systematically question assumptions, clarify information, take what they learn and incorporate it back into their work, creating and reinforcing a positive feedback loop.

With Epic and HRO, we will be able to ensure patient safety and continuously improve processes at the same time. Across the enterprise, Epic will offer:

  • One Patient, One Chart
    • Patients will have a single chart for clinical documentation, scheduling and billing.
    • All staff will be working in the same single patient chart.
  • Enterprise Workflows
    • Workflows will be streamlined across the enterprise.
  • Timely Access to Patient Health Information
    • Epic’s single unified patient chart means updated information is available to everyone immediately and in real-time.
    • Critical alerts and important messages will be delivered to both clinicians and patients.
  • “Cut-the-cord” – Accessible Medical Records
    • Clinicians will no longer be tied to workstations or site specific systems.
    • Once live on Epic, patient records can be accessed from computers across our enterprise.
    • Additionally, Epic’s mobile options will allow access from anywhere.
  • Improved Accessibility and Reach of Technology
    • Epic’s Mobile options will be utilized for more than the basics: remote monitoring, telemedicine, e-visits, charge capture, ordering, critical results, voice-to-text dictation and more.
    • Patients will have improved access to medical records available via a computer, smart phone or mobile device.

HRO requires the ability to separate signals from noise and connect the dots for a clear path to patient safety. To do this, we need to create an environment that should be safe for employees to think critically, challenge assumptions, ask clarifying questions and offer innovative ideas. The features of Epic and the built-in support mechanisms within Epic enable staff to implement our high reliability mindset with confidence and purpose.

Safety Together is everyone’s responsibility. Employees who feel safe to speak up and operate with the high reliability mentality increases the safety of patients. With Epic, we are both improving patient safety and helping our providers to continue to succeed.