HIStalk Connect Interviews Colin Konschak, CEO, Divurgent

Colin Konschak is CEO and managing partner of Divurgent of Virginia Beach, VA.

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Tell me about yourself and the company.

I’ve been in the business of healthcare for over two decades now. I started as a pharmacist and then decided to get my MBA in health services administration. I became board certified in healthcare management by ACHE and earned a Six Sigma black belt. 

We founded Divurgent in 2007. Having worked for many of the larger players within the industry, we thought the market was in need of a more boutique-style, client-focused consulting firm. It was really about creating methodologies that were proven and repeatable across all sorts of engagements while remaining laser focused on client satisfaction.

Our growth and success are due to having a talented team,  standardized methodologies, and a deep understanding of the industry. We have won awards for being a great place to work and for being one of the 5,000 fastest-growing companies.

 

How do you differentiate yourself from all the consulting companies out there?

Divurgent has a very seasoned group of consultants, with no shortage of gray hair. Experienced healthcare professionals with clinical and IT backgrounds are vital for the kinds of specialized projects we sign up for, such as ACOs, HIEs, benefits realization, clinical transformation, big data, Meaningful Use, and ICD-10.

For a relatively small firm, we have an amazing amount of thought leadership, proven methodologies, published books, and a world-class advisory board of 20 renowned healthcare CIOs and industry leaders. We like the tough projects and continue to provide valuable, measurable results on every project we deliver.

 

How is today’s hospital CIO different than one from 10 years ago?

The CIO job has gotten harder. They’ve always had to know technology and the business model the same or sometimes more thoroughly than the operational and clinical leaders. The CEO is demanding big data without clear requirements or proven vendors in the market to pick from. CIOs are going to be under continuous pressure to cut costs, even though post-EHR implementation is the worst time to cut costs since optimization is where the true ROI is.

There is a greater need now more than ever to align IT with the overall business strategy, and something a little more tangible than a mission or vision statement. The industry simply can’t lay down enough markers for the CIO to clearly align an IT strategy with.

Looking at the future of health IT, even from what it is today, would require a very good crystal ball. Things like Clinically Integrated Networks and Accountable Care Organizations will play a big role in the CIO’s future, but the timing and true nature of these entities are just not concrete right now.

 

Meaningful Use Stage 2 has the potential to trip up vendors and providers. What are the hardest or most confusing parts of it?

Providing a summary of care record for each transition of care or referral. Adopting this measurement requires a revamp of associated workflows to get the correct information into the patient’s record. Having accurate patient summaries ready to be transmitted to the next facility or provider begins with these workflow reworks, but also requires proper EHR interoperability, which is an entirely different beast.

The second thing is being able to provide patients the ability to view, download, and transmit their health information online within 36 hours after discharge. This requires not only the development and implementation of PHR technologies, but also changes in provider and patient behavior.

 

What are some metrics used to measure hospital EHR return on investment?

We have an intensive list of metrics. The big-impact items tend to be reductions in length of stay, transcription costs, denials, and cycle times. We firmly believe the money is there if the health system has good operational ownership and the fortitude to go after the benefits. Not necessarily completely offsetting the cost of the EHR, but very close to it. Our commitment to the ROI of EHR started with our work with Sentara, who is widely recognized as a leader in benefits realization.

 

What are some common mistakes hospitals make when planning their EHR go-live?

The go-live should be a non-event. That being said, there are lot of common mistakes that organizations make when orchestrating and executing a big-bang go-live. Not having enough super users. Not having ample 24/7 activation support, issue resolution, and other go-live services for at least three weeks after go-live. Many people were trained several weeks prior to the go-live and much has been forgotten, so having additional support working at the elbow is key to ensuring a smooth transition.

Elements of a successful go-live are having strong senior leadership commitment, good governance, and physician leadership during the design, build, and test phases. Proper pre-activation planning and preparation, experienced go-live leadership teams, effective training, an optimized support staff, and the definition and measurement of key metrics are critical factors that make the difference in the 70 percent of organizations who are successful in their activation endeavors and the 30 percent who fall short.

A final consideration I will mention is the need to leave an optimization team at each site for at least six months post go-live. Having a team stay behind for post go-live optimization is one of the most important but overlooked aspects of a go-live. Workflow optimization, further physician adoption, and additional application training are key in the long-term success of an EHR after any go-live.

 

Your mission statement calls for the company to improve patient outcomes. That’s different.

The words might not be that different, but we believe our execution of strategy is unique. If you read our white papers and blog entries, you will see that we are constantly coming back to the patient. I think our ACO and mHealth methodologies are a prime example. We know patient engagement, adoption, and EHR optimization are the keys to success.  Our benefits realization practice is one of our fastest growing services, and as you can guess, it is all about measurable results.

Our services and delivery approach is only one piece of the puzzle, though. Divurgent has the most talented group of healthcare consultants available. Our methods, our patient focus, and our team drive Divurgent and allow us to deliver transformative success to our clients and partners.

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