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Hughart named senior director of Nursing Informatics

Jan. 21, 2016, 10:10 AM

Karen Hughart, MSN, R.N., has been named senior director of Nursing Informatics, where she will lead the nursing enterprise in implementing new clinical systems in a partnership with clinical leaders throughout Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC).

Karen Hughart, MSN, R.N.

“It’s kind of an awesome sense of responsibility to be stepping into something like this,” she said. “I feel like everything I’ve spent the last 38 years doing here at Vanderbilt has given me the tools and skill set that I hope will make me successful.”

Hughart is a longtime nurse who joined Vanderbilt in 1977 and has worked in a number of roles, including managing a Pediatric Oncology and Cardiology unit before delving more specifically into informatics. She was most recently director of Systems Support Services, which is the primary group that provides training, implementation support and project management for health IT initiatives for the core clinical applications used in inpatient areas.

“Karen is a highly respected, highly regarded nurse leader,” said Marilyn Dubree, MSN, R.N., Executive Chief nursing Officer. “She has a reputation that precedes her as a paramount professional and executor of system-wide initiatives.”

“I am delighted to welcome Karen Hughart to this important new role,” added Neal Patel, M.D., MPH, Chief Medical Informatics Officer for VUMC. “She will be an essential member of the Health IT team as we partner with our faculty and staff to implement new clinical systems to improve the care of our patients.”

Gwen Holder, formerly assistant director of Systems Support Services, is stepping into Hughart’s former position as director of Systems Support Services.

Hughart’s new role expands her prior focus on inpatient units to include outpatient clinical systems, and it comes at a time when Vanderbilt is poised to overhaul key clinical, administrative and billing software to the latest technology, a process called Clinical Systems 2.0.

More than 700 faculty and staff participated in CS 2.0, a review of information systems needs at VUMC, which resulted in Vanderbilt choosing Epic Systems Corp. last year to provide new clinical systems. In Hughart’s new role, she will implement the clinical systems for nursing and provide support services to nursing leadership.

In November 2017, staff and faculty will switch to Epic software for medical record-keeping and clinic workflow, ordering of tests and treatments in hospitals and clinics, hospital scheduling and admissions, nursing documentation, medical management of surgical patients, outpatient prescribing, medication administration, (non-retail) pharmacy management and hospital billing.

Once implemented, the new clinical systems will streamline transcription, reduce documentation and improve decision support. These measures will reduce the amount of time nurses spend doing paperwork and increase the amount of time they can spend with patients, improving patient care.

Hughart said the Epic application would have a similar look and feel for multiple uses, whether it’s entering lab results, a doctor’s plan for a patient or vital signs.

“Having a single application that rolls together all the different users just makes it more efficient to everybody,” she said.

Hughart noted that Vanderbilt has been a leader in innovating clinical systems, and those gains will be integrated in the new systems.

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