Trinitas Regional on teamwork and the long evolution of EHR management

The hospital has been working with EHRs since the 1980s, but today its focus is far wider.
By Bernie Monegain
06:48 AM
Best Hospital IT Department 2017

Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth, New Jersey, was an early EHR adopter starting with a product called TDS back in the 1980s. It was popular with university hospitals and other pioneers who were among the first to move from paper files to digital records.

There were patient lists then, said Trinitas CIO Judy Comitto: "Orders were entered, meds were entered, and we just moved along with the flow."

Over multiple iterations of the technology, TDS morphed into what tech teams recognize today as Allscripts Sunrise Clinical Manager.

"We've been a customer that long," Comitto said. "It's changed quite a bit, but we've moved patient records starting with the TDS of the '80s, and rolled them into Sunrise years ago. We have cultivated talent in the product. We have been on it so long, we have grown resources – dedicated resources that are really skilled."

Comitto recognizes an inclination for teamwork and an atmosphere where respect and cooperation reign as key drivers for excellence at Trinitas, a 554-bed health system that includes a 120-bed long-term care center.

"When people are respectful and cooperative, there's always a willingness to go the extra mile for each other,” she said. "People work in teams well. It's been the modus operandi for years. I think that's very much appreciated by the 2,600 employees who work here."

The employees are also recognized for their achievements, she added. They know their work has been noticed – and appreciated. Employees also support one another in personal ways, Comitto said.

For example, they contribute to funds earmarked for helping families of work associates who are in personal crises. Everyone donates and those funds are disbursed by a committee which reviews requests. The money goes to helping fellow employees who have home fires or healthcare issues, for instance.

Comitto said the IT team is always on the lookup for acquiring or building new tools to boost quality and flexibility.

Telehealth is a prime example. "We have a stroke neurology telehealth product – bringing those tools into the neurology group to do quick assessments of patients in our ED."

On the hiring front, one of Comitto's favorite question for prospective employees is: "If you were able to achieve your dreams what would you be doing?" Some people know right off the bat, others waver.

Some candidates aren't interested -- others want to be CIO.

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Twitter: @Bernie_HITN
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