March 8: Today on TownHall. Lee Milligan, CIO for Asante interviews Allison Graffis, Asante’s Manager of Clinical Informatics Training. How do you train physicians and clinicians on Epic, Dragon and Halo? How do you structure the training? What’s in the curriculum? How do you measure your team’s success? How do you motivate your team? And how do you maintain work-life balance?
Today on This Week Health.
When you walk into a room and you have a conversation with a provider and they tell you that they're able to get through their day and they're able to see their patients in a way and still have some family time at the end of it, to me that's success.
Welcome to This Week Health Community. This is TownHall a show hosted by leaders on the front lines with 📍 interviews of people making things happen in healthcare with technology. My name is Bill Russell, the creator of This Week Health, a set of channels designed to amplify great thinking to propel healthcare forward. We want to thank our show sponsors Olive, Rubrik, Trellix, Hillrom, Medigate and F5 in partnership with Sirius Healthcare for investing in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders. Now onto our show.
Welcome to TownHall. My name is Lee Milligan. Today we have a very special guest Allison Graffis. Alison and I have known each other for a very long time. We've worked together in a variety of different capacities here at Asante. Alison, welcome to the program.
Good to see you today. Thanks for playing hooky from your normal job. I'll let your boss know that it's okay. Can you tell us a little bit about your, what's your current title? Start with that?
Yeah, so my current title, I am the Manager of Clinical Informatics Training at Asante.
Awesome. Awesome. Okay. And what does your team do exactly?
So my team consists of, I kind of bucketed in three different areas. So I have the principle trainers for Epic, which are the trainers who develop all the curriculum. And Epic is our EHR for our providers and all of our clinicians. So they're developing all the curriculum all of the classes and the training structure for all of our clinicians at Asante.
And then we have the specialist team, which we have an inpatient side and an outpatient side. The outpatient side really focuses on supporting our ambulatory clinics. So elbow double support for any of our outpatient clinic specialties, surgical specialties, just making sure that they feel like they're supported throughout the day while they're taking care of their patients. Our inpatient side, we kind of call them our tech gurus. They are the ones who deal with all the technology for the providers. So our Dragon, which is a voice to text software. Halo, which is our secure communications platform. And onboarding of all these new providers.
Awesome. So really it goes way beyond just Epic.
I really like that approach of being more comprehensive kind of understanding what the workflow is for the individual using the technology and then saying, okay, what pieces do they have to know really well. I want to back up a little bit, you have an interesting, in my opinion, trajectory in your career in terms of where you started and kind of how you navigated your career trajectory. And there's been a number of changes here at Asante as well during that time. And you have very effectively navigated that. Can you talk a little bit about your career trajectory, where you started and how you got through all that?
Yeah. So I actually started back in 2002 with Ashland Community hospital as a medical records tech or clerk. So I was purging the medical records. That's where I started. So taking the old paper files, pulling out the documents and putting them in boxes. And I did that for a few years and then they implemented, they started to work with Meditech and I became a super user for Meditech within medical records.
So I was starting to understand the technology side of working within health. After that Ashland opened up a couple of primary care clinics and they were looking for someone who could help kind of facilitate and manage the clinics, but also have a little bit techie of a background.
And so I applied for that position and moved into that position. So I was kind of the IT person and the operations person all kind of melded into one. And then Ashlyn hospital was acquired by Asante. And during that transition, I was moved over into Asnte position partners or APP as a a way to help the clinicians utilize Epic in the outpatient manner.
So basically they had started up with some clinics. We had some Epic support from our analysts, but there wasn't enough field support for these clinics. So APP brought me on in that realm. Yes, Asante Physician Partners.
Okay. The medical group.
Yup. Yup. So then after that I was promoted into a supervisor and started the little support team still within the Asante Physician Partner side. Then took on a medical records department and developed centralized scanning for. Yes a little bit because I mean, it's where I started. So I was like, oh, I kind of feel back at home.
It's kinda cause it's where my journey began. So then started to help with medical records and that piece, and then eventually was moved over into ITS as the manager of training at that point. That's when the principal trainers and the specialists all came together under one team and we started to develop looking at how can we start to train and have a more cohesive support for all of our clinicians.
Wow, what a journey. Yeah. But what a great background to now draw from. Now you're in this leadership role with this kind of diverse training team and you have all these experiences that you can draw from as you know, problem solve moving forward. So we, now we kind of understand the different areas that you've experienced.
We also understand kind of where you're at right now in terms of what teams you lead and what their responsibilities are. How do you measure success within your team? Because training is one of those things where it's a combination of kind of hardcore metrics and soft core satisfaction pieces. How do you measure success?
Yeah, I think the best way that we look at it is do we feel like clinicians feel like they can quickly and efficiently get through their day and help the patients that they need to see. It's very challenging to be on paper and be like, yes, this provider is well-trained or this clinician knows exactly what they're doing.
Because different metrics can tell you different things. But when you walk into a room and you have a conversation with a provider and they tell you that they're able to get through their day and they're able to see their patients in a way and still have some family time at the end of it, to me that's success.
Because there's so many things that can pull on all these different clinicians in different ways. That's how we measure it on our side is how can we help them feel like they have somewhat of a balance between work and life.
I love that. Yeah. That's at the end of the day, if we have happy providers, then they can deliver better care to our patients. And that's really what it's all about. Recently, well, historically, it hasn't always been easy to get time, FaceTime in front of providers for a, any significant length of time. There's operational things happening, docs want to see patients and they don't always understand the value that's there.
And you're not talking about the kind of the last mile of, of getting this training right. And if you don't, then you don't really have the full value of the experience of the technology and you're extracting that value. I jokingly referred to your team is the technology value extraction team, because your team really allows folks to understand just what they can do with this technology.
And I make the comparison of when I'm sitting in my forerunner, it's a bunch of buttons there that I actually don't know what they do. I probably shouldn't be pushing them. And so there's some value there that I'm not extracting out of that entire experience, but your team really does that. And I just wanted to call out one scenario that I'd like you to talk about a little bit. One of your staff recently spent one hour with one provider and it was a positive impact. Can you talk about that a bit?
Yeah. So one of my staff members reached out and we have what's called signal reports in Epic. So it's a way to look at how productive and efficient providers are using Epic. So this one staff member looked at it, studied, it, found a couple of areas and was able to get a one hour of dedicated time with this clinician.
So this clinician was not seeing patients at the time, but just had a meeting scheduled in our office. So she went down there, met with her and we were able to save 28 minutes per day for this provider just on three different basic areas. I did follow up with this person as well. And she now has a second meeting set up with this provider to look at her notes, to see how we can improve her timing on her notes. So it's, it's a huge success. And I think if we can get engagement, it's just amazing what we can do to help to help ease some of the burden.
I'm a nerd. I took those minutes say per day times by the number of potential days, you're working a year, come up with 104 hours a year, save from a single hour of your staff's time in front of a clinician. That is so cool. Can you talk a little bit about how you motivate your team? I noticed that over the years that you take a real personal approach to your team and you, you really know your team members really well. You're also very proactive about identifying scenarios that are not working and taking action to make sure it does work really admire that about you. Can you talk a little bit about how you motivate your team?
Yeah, I think really for me I like to make sure that my team feels like they're supported, but they also have the flexibility to come up with new ideas. So if, if someone feels like they can come to you and say, hey, this feels wonky and we should change it and you're open and willing to listen to that suggestion. And when, I mean, listen, but really consider. You're going to have team members that are going to go above and beyond for you every single time. If they feel like they're supported that they can come to you with issues and that you resolve them, if there's a roadblock or if there's a barrier, you can remove it.
If there's new ideas, you entertain it and see, how can we make this better? I also think I'm a big component of work home life balance. So I have two littles at home and it's hard sometimes to be a very busy mom with everything that life pulls on you. And work and everything, but I really respect that. And my team jokes, when I see somebody teasing or sending emails, when they're supposed to be on ETO, I'll send them a little message saying, Hey, get off. You should be taking time with your family right now. And so they joke about it, that the boss is gonna yell at them. But I think that's a huge factor in just keeping happiness and success with team members.
Wow. Yeah, I really admire how you've done that over the years. And I recall back early on in the early days of the pandemic, when we were looking for ideas for how we navigate this. And one of the, one of the ideas that you and your team kind of discovered and thought through that eventually made its way to me. And we ended up doing was this flexibility around hours and really this idea of, Hey, we don't have to sit there with a stopwatch at 8:00 AM and then 5:00 PM, but rather let's just identify what work needs to happen.
And then how do we be flexible to allow folks to be able to meet their family needs while at the same time accomplishing things at work. I really, again, I admire how you've approached that. Okay. Well, we're going to wrap it up here. I just want to say, thanks for spending time with us today. I really, really love the work that your team is doing. I think it's really important for the provider experience and ultimately for the patient experience. And I thank you for your leadership in this space.
Yeah. Thank you. It's been great and having an opportunity to talk about all the great stuff that we've done. So thanks.
All right. Take care.
I love this show. I love hearing from people on the front lines. I love hearing from these leaders and we want to thank our hosts who continue to support the community by developing this great content. We also want to thank our show sponsors Olive, Rubrik, Trellix, Hillrom, Medigate and F5 in partnership with Sirius Healthcare for investing in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders. If you want to support the show, let someone know about our shows. They all start with This Week Health and you can find them wherever you listen to podcasts. Keynote, TownHall, 📍 Newsroom and Academy. Check them out today. And thanks for listening. That's all for now. 📍