JohnMarc Alban

Q&A with John Marc Alban

February 06, 2014
by Nancy Ryerson, Staff Writer
Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center was recently awarded HIMSS Stage 7 accreditation, the highest level of EMR adoption the association gives. Only 2.1 percent of hospitals in the country have reached Stage 7. JohnMarc Alban, director Information Systems, Clinical Informatics, & Communications, talked with us about how the hospital got so connected.

HCBN: Tell me a little about your background. How did you get to where you are today?
John Marc Alban: I’m a director over the information systems, clinical informatics and communications department at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center. I’m a nurse by background having worked in the emergency department as well as in the fields of infectious disease research and prevention. I’ve always had a strong interest in technology and so when the opportunity to blend that interest with my clinical career arose, it was an easy choice to pursue. Eventually, that led me to my current role as a leader. It’s been a gratifying career so far, highlighted by achievement of the HIMSS 7 award. But I’m excited to continue my work in a field where countless innovations are being developed that can have such impact on how we serve our patients.

HCBN: Tell me about the development of your health IT program. When did it first start?
JA: Information systems have been part of AIMMC’s operational infrastructure for quite some time now. Our clinical informatics program, however, started about eight years ago when we recognized the need to have clinicians heavily engaged in technology/ EMR deployments. These solutions have significant impact to clinical workflow and it’s important to have associates who can navigate the technical and clinical spaces.

HCBN: What are some benefits the hospital has enjoyed because of EHRs and other health IT initiatives?
JA: Some of the obvious benefits include legibility as well as availability of documentation anywhere on site in the hospital as well as at home through use of our portal technology. Cost savings have come in the form of paper reduction as well as significant decrease in utilization of dictation/transcription services. Most importantly, from a patient safety standpoint, we are able to hardwire and automate some key practices that help to improve health outcomes.

HCBN: What do you think are the biggest challenges involved in adopting HER technology and using it “meaningfully”?
JA: It’s important to have a culture that embraces the role technology plays in health care. If you don’t have engagement from your leadership as well as your physician and clinician community, the road to success is hindered. At the same time, those same folks must have confidence in the system and confidence that we can continue to provide excellent and safe care. That’s where IS and clinical informatics play such a large role – we need to cultivate that trust and those relationships and ensure we have appropriate support models and implementation/ education plans in place.

HCBN: What was one problem that came up as you were developing your health IT program, and how did you solve it?
JA: Resourcing is always a concern. As we have implemented more EMR solutions in the hospital, we have been able to grow the clinical informatics department to help accommodate the increasing need for education and support. However, it is still a small team that covers practically every area of the hospital – physicians, nursing, charging, coding, scheduling, medical records, etc. We have complemented our clinical informatics staff by engaging our information systems staff to also provide a level of application and project management support. It’s a great cohesive team that has the right skillset, the right attitude for customer service, and has been able to deliver successful implementations over and over again.

HCBN: Do you have any advice for facilities trying to meet Meaningful Use Stage 2 and other landmarks?
JA: One of the most important things for organizations to understand is that we’re all in this together. There mustn’t be a divide between technology and the clinicians using the technology. If the intent to provide safe, quality care is appreciated by all, no barrier should be impossible to overcome.

Click here to view the hospital spotlight pictorial of Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center.