University of Missouri Health Care shows why IT is an innovation hub, not a cost center

The latest technology is put to work improving patient care, reducing readmissions and improving the community.
By Jessica Davis
06:54 AM
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Best Hospital IT Department 2017

The University of Missouri Health Care has a unique way of handling technology. Its private-public partnership with Cerner created the Tiger Institute for Health Innovation in 2009, designed to address health concerns in the area and connect providers with each other to improve care quality and costs.

MU Health CIO Bryan Bliven said that mission is at the core of the organization: "It’s an intentional culture, the culture of yes."

"Together we deliver care and serve the community," Bliven said. "Everyone in the organization wants to deliver on that, first and foremost."

The focus on innovation gives the IT department more freedom to be creative in its work, as IT isn’t seen as just a "cost center to be controlled and managed, it’s more of an innovation center," he said. " What can we do through technology to improve the lives and health of Missourians?"

That attitude and the hospital’s partnership with Cerner has yielded a long list of accolades, notably the CHIME Transformational Leadership Award in 2016.

Bliven highlighted the work MU Health does to ensure all employees are in tune with the hospital’s mission to serve the rural part of the state through education, research and exceptional care.

Indeed, it’s that culture within the organization that enables employees to leverage the latest technology to make a big difference in the community.

"It’s not just install and maintain technology. We use technology to have better quality care," Bliven said. “That’s what people get excited about."

Technology is tied into the entire organization. For example, the team considers its data footprint and how that can maximize value inside and outside the IT shop.

"We’ve been working on tying our IT goals into the organization’s goals moving forward," Bliven said. "We weave our strategy into the entire organization. We’ll create a three-year plan to march out against and tie into the service lines the organization deems strategic."

Right now, consumer engagement is top of mind, as well as revenue cycle, Bliven added, noting that a new Cerner revenue cycle platform will go live in 2019. 

The health system has also been working on improving readmissions. Bliven said that it identified the ideal goal for the project and leveraged process analytics to find gaps. Bliven’s team created a plan based on that data and reduced readmissions by 40 percent.

MU is also using analytics to improve physician documentation and reduce time spent in workflows, while using data to inform staffing needs. And the hospital offers its tech as a service to local physician practices or regional hospitals that may not be able to manage IT on their own.

But through all projects, communication is key, he said. For example, MU Health is going through a move as it’s running out of space. So it made sure its staff understood why the move was taking place.

"You have to have those tough conversations," Bliven said. "Once they know the way you want things done, let them own it. Empower your leaders to take ownership, to be part of the mission so they’re engaged."

Best hospital IT departments: 2017

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Click here to learn more about how we chose this year's winners.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com