June 23, 2015

The changing face of health care IT

Changes coming to our clinical systems at Vanderbilt aim to better serve our patients and to maintain the highest standard care in an increasingly competitive and cost-conscious environment.

Kevin Johnson, M.D.

by Kevin Johnson

Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor and Chair of Biomedical Informatics, Professor of Pediatrics, Chief Informatics Officer, VUMC

The face of technology and data are changing at an increasingly rapid pace. Due largely to the Internet, mobile devices and cloud computing, 90 percent of the data available to us today were created in just the last two years. To keep us informed and engaged, we need technology to be fast, flexible, accurate and easy to use. We expect technology and data to help – not hinder – us from doing our jobs quickly and effectively. Information technology affects all aspects of our lives, but especially in health care where lives depend on it.

You may have heard about some major changes coming in our clinical systems at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC). The purpose of the change is to better serve our patients and to maintain the highest standard care in an increasingly competitive and cost-conscious environment. The project selection process is called Clinical System (CS) 2.0. Patients have more choices than ever about where to go for care. They will increasingly demand clinical care that is customized to meet their needs in a flexible, mobile world.

Here’s what we know about our CS 2.0 project so far:

With support for our Horizon clinical application solutions going away in 2018, we are evaluating two outside vendors – Cerner and Epic – to provide a comprehensive clinical system that we can build upon. The target date for this important decision is Aug. 24. Our new vendor will help support inpatient nursing documentation (HED), orders (HEO), inpatient pharmacy (HMM) and medication administration (Admin Rx).

For the past two months, VUMC representatives and HealthIT experts have been studying each vendor’s capabilities, visiting hospitals who use their systems, and seeking input from our own users. This process will continue through the end of August when a final decision will be made.  No matter which vendor is chosen, a major factor in the decision will be our ability to innovate with our vendor partner to meet our unique needs.

What we don’t know as of today?

Beyond the Horizon Clinical Suite, we are evaluating all of our main clinical software to determine what should be replaced and when. We know that to meet the needs of our physicians, nurses, administrators and patients, as well as our affiliate hospitals in the Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network, our new system needs to provide an integrated solution that talks to the entire enterprise, and we are making that a priority.

We invite you to be part of the conversation. Attend a Discovery Listening session in June or July (look for invitations in myVUMC) or email us at cs@vanderbilt.edu. We want to hear from you. Together, we will build the best system to care for our patients and all who provide that care!


Clinical Selection Timeline

April – May:

  • 480 clinical faculty and staff interviews by Deloitte to listen to our end users.
  • 32 architectural reviews with our VUMC system owners to understand our current state of functionality.
  • Product demos, and visits to the Cerner and Epic headquarters.


  • On-site visits to hospitals that are using Epic and Cerner, so we could see the vendors in action and talk to people using the systems.
  • The Steering Committee and work groups from VUMC confirmed functional requirements to deliver a high level of patient care, such as:

–       Efficient data entry – minimum number of key strokes to enter maximum amount of information.

–       Focus on workflow – facilitate handoffs and ability to do your job in multiple spaces (locations?).

–       Innovation & customization –assure that the vendor can work with us to innovate new solutions and customize applications.


  • Epic and Cerner will come to VUMC to show us how they can meet our requested functional needs.
  • RFP (request for proposal) will be sent to Epic and Cerner.


  • Review responses from Cerner and Epic.
  • Make recommendations to VUMC leadership.
  • Selection of vendor: Decision Day is Aug. 24.