A Slushy Winter Wonderland expected at XGM


The joys of winter travel….wait, isn’t it almost May?? Both American and United airlines are already offering vouchers and free exchange for flights today through Monday to Illinois and Wisconsin.  While the brunt of the storm and snow accumulation is expected to happen today, it may cause havoc for travelers tomorrow and Monday as well.  Southwest Airlines is also offering to waive change fees if traveling today or tomorrow to MDW or Milwaukee (MKE).

Most of us have to connect through ORD, but DTW is going to be the best option for Sunday travelers if you don’t have a direct option into Madison.  You could also just wait and see, but the risk is being delayed for hours and/or canceled flights.  I would suggest be proactive and call today.

Madison could get up to 10 inches, making Epic’s campus a winter wonderland for their guests at XGM.  However, it’s going to be in the 50’s on Monday and rain all week…making for a slushy messy week.


Delta reduces how far you can recline…Thank You!


The frequent flyers I’ve talked to this week are happy about this announcement.  Most of us want to work during our flights.  I barely have enough room before my fellow passenger infront of me reclines to the full extent on our 60 minute flight to Detroit. Really??  You need to recline the minute we get in the air? I personally think the only time to recline is on a red eye, when everyone else is sleeping.

Starting April 13th, Delta will change all their airbus A320 planes (60+) to reduce the recline of coach seats from 4 inches to 2 and first class from 5.5 to 3.5.  Doesn’t sound like much, but looking at pictures of it online, it should help with the laptop issue.  If this was legroom, we would have an issue….but not the case here.

What are your thoughts? Are you one of those who recline all the time?  Leave your comments below.

Epic XGM 2019 – How Consultants might Participate


With Epic’s series of Advisory Councils and Roundtables kicking off on April 29th, clients are preparing to send their teams to Verona, WI to share and obtain information with other clients across the country. This time of year I am often asked how as a consultant can we participate and benefit. No doubt these sessions are extremely valuable to Epic’s customers with opportunities to exchange best practices, success stories, and hear from Epic directly on a wide range of topics including upcoming system enhancements. But with attendance limited to clients, how can we benefit?

I had the opportunity in the past to participate in Project Managers Advisory Council (PMAC) as I was leading efforts on an implementation. Typically consultants in PM or Project Director level roles may be able to register to attend as representatives of their client. Rarely are analysts, builders, or trainers given this opportunity. However, your client will no doubt be looking to send teams of resources over the 2 weeks of sessions, and you should be prepared to assist anyway you can.

One way, is to inquire on your clients level of participation (i.e. presenting), and ask if you can assist with pulling those materials together. XGM is meant to be an exchange of information and clients are presenting case studies, best practices, and lessons learned to other organizations. By assisting with developing these materials, you are not only contributing to the event, but will likely receive the feedback from the team when they return. Comparisons to approach and methodologies are essential to keep your skills up to date, so ask to hear how the presentation was received and what variances of success stories where shared by others.

The council and roundtable sessions are application area focused. The number of application groups is pretty impressive and include areas for clinical, financial, ancillary, Oncology, Home Health, Pharmacy, Population Health, Scheduling, Security, and many more. Be sure to go to the UserWeb and find out when your groups event is and inquire who is going from your client (click here for a full schedule). Then based on your focus area, ask how you can learn from those attending. If you are a trainer for example, inquire on who from your team will be attending the Training Advisory Council (TAC). The expectation for this group is usually panel discussions and sharing of materials. Ask if you the materials obtained can be shared when the team returns.

Much like UGM, XGM access is primarily limited to clients. As client partners, advisors, and team members, we all can benefit and learn much from these events. Clients make difficult decisions on who they can send and have an expectation those who do participate will gather information and return to update the teams. You are part of the team…be sure you are updated and educated as well.

Plan to attend XGM or already assisting with presentations? Share your thoughts and comments below.

Time flies by…A quick look at last months HIMSS19 Conference

accurate alarm alarm clock analogue
Photo by Aphiwat chuangchoem on Pexels.com

Thank you to everyone who has reached out to inquire on my blog status.  Between conferences, client proposals, and various trips…I took some much needed time.  I’m eager to jump back in to weekly discussions and ideas on current trends and activities within our industry as well as some more travel related stories.  Always open to suggestions, so certainly let me know your thoughts.  First, a couple thoughts on last month’s HIMSS19 conference.

HIMSS19 – This year’s HIMSS conference was just as chaotic and exhausting as ever.  Held in Orlando Florida, themes included hundreds of vendor exhibits, cybersecurity overload, and emerging tech in areas of AI, blockchain products, interoperability technologies, and telemedicine offerings.  I thought the most surprising part was EHR vendor signage that called out competitors and were far more aggressive with accusations of misleading statements and favored products.

I lost count after seeing over 30 consultant firm booths ranging in sizes and shapes.  The big guys like Deloitte, Accenture, Leidos, and Nordic had extensive booths that had luxurious furniture, cubicle offices, endless signage with looping videos and dozens of employees.  My firm, and many others, had variations of conference space outside the vendor showroom for client meetings and education sessions.  My favorite is always Epic, sorry…don’t mean to show favoritism, but it’s warm and inviting and fun.

I always wonder about the value of attending these every year.  For me it was first and foremost about vendor education/demos for Epic, Cerner, and Meditech.  Second is catching up with colleagues and friends, hearing what’s happening at their shop and comparing notes to industry trends.  Finally, meeting with clients.  My favorite part of the trip was spending 30 minutes chatting with Judy Faulkner at CHIME.  We spent that whole time talking about how she took care of us (CHB team) during UGM on 9/11 and the ever growing campus in Verona.  I feel fortunate to have that type of access to people at these events.

Check out Healthcare IT News article here for a deep dive into the key note speakers and education sessions.  Did you attend?  Other take away thoughts?  Share your thoughts in comments section below.

Meeting Client Expectations for Improved Quality at Lower Costs…can we do that?

client budget

Client demand in Managed Services continues to grow.  As consultants we have to ask ourselves, are the deliverable oriented solutions we are supporting meeting our client’s expectations?  Are we providing service line agreements and resources that align with overall budget/costs?  It’s a challenge that I’m excited to be leading and supporting.

Most of us are seeing a demand for long term managed services that improve quality of support and reduce costs.  With continued resource constraints and retention issues, outsourcing provides clients with a different staffing and support option.  Here are some areas of growth that you may see this year and have engagement opportunities to support:

  • Help Desk Services
  • Legacy Support
  • EHR Remote Application Support
  • System Upgrade Managed Services
  • Report Development and Maintenance
  • Affiliate System Management

Regardless of what firm you are working at, almost all of the major players are already in this space.  As a consultant, opportunities to support clients 100% remotely, and long term, is enticing.  I think our responsibility to is ensure we understand the client’s expectations on deliverable outcomes and improved services first.  Then we have to think about cost models, usually fixed fee, and how that plays out.  Support resources are needed from Project Managers to analysts to trainers….which means we all have an opportunity for long term contract support work.

I know there are many of you out there that will say you don’t want to give up travel and you like the variations of contract to contract.  This type of staff aug support will continue in all vendor spaces…so you have options.  After being on the road for 15 years, I personally know that many will be eager to grab remote opportunities.  We might shed a tear over lost status on Delta or United, but its a small price to pay.

Are you currently on a remote engagement?  Seeing other lines of solution offerings?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

TSA and Air Traffic Control Impact by Government Shutdown

people inside a terminal airport
Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

No one can say for sure how long this is going to continue.  The government shutdown is now officially in day 18.  Areas mostly impacted so far are National Parks, but over the weekend stories broke out of TSA agents calling in “sick,” creating a serious issue for airport security.  I just saw online this morning that my local airport is seeking temporary part time TSA staff.  Those of us who all travel weekly may be in for some serious delays starting this week.

This shutdown isn’t just TSA agents, its also traffic control staff.  If appropriations aren’t agreed upon by tomorrow, about 10,000 air traffic control resources will not get paid.  Additionally if you’ve applied for Global Entry, their offices are closed.  So no processing of applications or interviews being conducted at this time.

The good news is that about 10,000 air traffic controllers who work for the Federal Aviation Administration and about 51,000 Transportation Security Administration officers have been told to keep reporting to work.  But I would still be proactive.  I fly out tomorrow.  I’ll be arriving to the airport much earlier.  I can’t find any information on impact to Pre-Check or Clear lanes.  I have to assume priorities have to go to the larger group of travelers, so I won’t be surprised if Pre-Check is closed.

Anyone seeing any impact yet?  Share your experience in comments below.

The Villains of Rudolph, Santa, and Frosty – A Fun Holiday Analogy to our world of Consulting


I really enjoy watching the old classic Christmas specials.  I think Santa Claus is Coming to Town is my all-time favorite, and love that both Mickey Rooney and Fred Astaire lend their voices.  While watching Santa, Rudolph and Frosty this past week I noticed that they each had a character or two that made their jobs much harder.  Similar to some engagements we’ve all had, there is always that one person who makes our job more difficult.  Is there any lessons from the Christmas specials that we might apply to our job?  For those of you who know me, and my fixation with Christmas, I think there are several lessons we can apply for sure.

The young Kris Kringle only wanted to do his job by delivering toys to the children of Sombertown, but Burgermeister Meisterburger made toys illegal.  Doesn’t it seem like there is always someone trying to block you from doing what you need to do at work? Thinking creatively to find a solution is imperative to our success.  Santa takes the advice of a penguin to deliver toys down the chimney.  While he is discouraged several times, his song, “Put one foot in front of the other…”motivates everyone to take on the challenge and get those toys delivered.

Professor Hinkle is a classic bad guy who we all have had to deal with.  He had a magic hat, a wonderful tool that brought a snowman to life!  He was failing at his job as a magician and never knew how powerful his hat was until the children put it on Frosty’s head.  Hinkle later says, “if that hat has magic, I want it back.”  Isn’t it so typical to see that one guy at work only want to take credit after you’ve shown others the capabilities of the tools we are supporting? I think we have an opportunity every day to help the Professor Hinkle’s of our daily lives realize the potential of the tools that are sitting right in front of them.  Transfer of knowledge should be our number one focus at any client.

Have you ever been put in a role that you weren’t fit for?  Rudolph’s pal at the North Pole, Hermey, struggles with his job of making toys. It just wasn’t really his skill set.  The Elf manager finally does a great job later realizing they could use an Epic Wisdom expert and moves Hermey from the toy maker department to Dentistry.  We should all look at our teams and make sure we identify the strengths of each member to ensure best possible outcome and quality of the delivery of services.  I would love to go on with Rudolph, the Island of Misfit Toys alone reminds me of so many engagements over the years.  I’m kidding!!

Thank you to all my readers, we will see you in 2019.  Happy Holidays to you all and have a wonderful Happy New Year!