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IT transition a success at Vanderbilt Tullahoma-Harton Hospital

Sep. 8, 2021, 2:59 PM

Michael Harris works with Katherine Gilliland, FNP, during the recent transition of clinical and IT systems at Vanderbilt Tullahoma-Harton Hospital.
Michael Harris works with Katherine Gilliland, FNP, during the recent transition of clinical and IT systems at Vanderbilt Tullahoma-Harton Hospital. (photo by Susan Urmy)

by Madison Agee

Multiple teams from across Vanderbilt University Medical Center recently led a transition of the clinical and information technology (IT) systems at Vanderbilt Tullahoma-Harton Hospital (VTHH) in Tullahoma, Tennessee.

This complex effort represented a critical step in fully integrating the hospital into the Vanderbilt family. It follows the successful IT transition of Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital that occurred in April 2020 in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As was the case with the Wilson County effort, the IT transition at VTHH took place amid uncertainty, resource constraints and an organizational focus on addressing the virus and its impact. Despite all these realities, bringing the new systems safely online was even more important with this new stage of the pandemic. Using Vanderbilt systems and tools meant VTHH teams could even better care for their patients, including those with COVID-19.

“It was truly remarkable to see — even in the middle of a stressful COVID surge — everyone at VTHH come together and learn to use new systems and technologies to take care of our patients. I’m tremendously proud of our colleagues and their dedication,” said Richard Ellis, president of VTHH.

A two-part command center — operational and technical — was staffed by both on-site and remote team members.
Operational Command Center at Go Live Tullahoma Hospital Event
Photos by: Susan Urmy

The IT transition brings several new systems and tools to VTHH, including:

  • eStar, VUMC’s Epic-based electronic health record (EHR).
  • Laboratory and imaging systems.
  • Pharmacy systems, including new medication dispensing cabinets.
  • Applications for ordering, administering and monitoring blood products and testing.
  • Applications for supporting specialty clinical care, including labor and delivery and surgical procedures.
  • New clinical equipment, such as blood glucose monitors.
  • New computers, printers and scanners.
  • Faster and more reliable wireless networks.

The process known as “cutover” began on Friday, Aug. 20, and continued through the weekend, as the hospital’s old systems were disabled and VUMC systems were brought online in a carefully coordinated manner. By Monday morning, when the hospital’s outpatient departments were open, employees were taking care of patients using VUMC technology.

A two-part command center — operational and technical — was staffed by both on-site and remote team members, who continually monitored tickets, triaged these issues and worked together to resolve them as quickly as possible. Assisting the effort were support team members, as well as contracted “at-the-elbow” resources with expertise in Epic and hospital technology transitions. In all, hundreds of Vanderbilt employees worked together to deliver a successful project.

“When our hospital became part of the Vanderbilt family, we assured our community ‘we were here for good.’ This IT implementation demonstrates that commitment — we’ve invested millions of dollars in best-in-class technology so we can continue to serve this area for the long term,” Ellis said.

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