Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital takes change in stride

'Don't tackle everything at once'
By Jeff Rowe
02:36 AM
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Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

For any health IT department, these days, change may be the only thing you can count on from one day to the next. But according to Susan Pellecchia, director of information services at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton, N.J., the trick is to take it all one step at a time.

"Don't tackle everything at once," she tells her staff on a regular basis, which is critical advice now that her department is getting more requests and projects than ever.

For Pellecchia, however, the raised expectations are a sign of success.

"For many years," she says, "the assumption was 'Don't ask IT; they're too busy."

Conversely, she adds, for all those years the IT staff didn't really know how their jobs were connected to the patients: "They saw their jobs primarily as fixing computers."

Now, the hospital's organizational goals are shared directly with the IT staff, and everyone understands how their specific responsibilities are connected to the overall goal of providing superior care to patients.

"It's been eye-opening for them," Pellecchia says. "Now they can view their jobs within the broader context of providing the best care possible while also ensuring patient satisfaction. They see the value and purpose to what they do."

In addition to understanding the broader purpose to their jobs, Pellecchia says her staff also now know they're part of a team.

"There aren't a lot of hierarchical lines," she says. "The team know they're here to support each other no matter what they're doing."

Teamwork defines the lighter moments, too, as Pellecchia says she recognizes her staff's accomplishments – she points with pride, for instance, to the fact that the hospital was one of the first in the nation to achieve Stage 2 meaningful use on the first try – with pizza parties and after hours get-togethers.

"We have a big board on which we list everyone's projects," she says. "And when a team completes one, we all celebrate."

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