1,800 physicians. 1.2 million patients. And 90 locations across six states. With a business this size, HealthPartners can’t afford to be in the dark about their facilities. As one of the largest healthcare and insurance providers in the Midwest, they rely on precise facility information to keep operations running. This data is the backbone of critical functions across the organization – it supports everything from life safety and fire code compliance to preventive maintenance.

The wrong information, or the lack of information, can negatively impact care across the entire network. Which is why an integrated workplace management system (IWMS), like FM:Systems, is integral to the organization’s success.

Lost in translation.

HealthPartners adopted FM:Systems four years ago. In 2016, the organization reached out to Rhonda Rezac, Business Analyst with RSP i_SPACE, to bring four of their Wisconsin clinics online.

Rhonda began the project as she always does: by getting to know key stakeholders, learning about the organization and their IT structure, and determining the best path forward. But, when the implementation process started to stall, Rhonda realized something was getting lost in translation with IT.

“The software implementation wasn’t moving forward as usual,” Rhonda said. “I kept asking questions and trying to communicate with different people in IT, but my requests kept falling through.”

“I couldn’t find the right person to help, and the HealthPartners team didn’t understand what wasn’t working,” she added.

When the implementation process started to stall, Rhonda realized something was getting lost in translation with IT.

This led to confusion, frustration and, ultimately, budget and schedule concerns. To get the project back on track, Rhonda needed an ally – an application manager – who could master the trifecta of IT, HealthPartners and FM:Systems. Someone who could translate requests and bridge the gap to ensure expectations were being set, communicated and met.

Learning how to “speak IT.”

Enter Chris Jones, an application analyst and developer at HealthPartners, who joined the team as a project manager. After a few conversations with both Rhonda and the HealthPartners team, he got to the heart of the problem.

“Software development is sometimes like having a house with multiple owners who don’t talk with each other,” Chris said. “One person is painting a wall blue, while another is ripping it down. Other people are adding furniture with completely different styles in mind.”

To add to the challenge, HealthPartners’ IT department is huge – over 800 people – and no one had been assigned to the project. So Rhonda’s requests were getting shuffled from person to person and, eventually, lost.

“Our internal project management team didn’t ‘speak IT’ either,” Chris added, “so they didn’t understand what was going wrong.”

Part of the problem is that IT specialists are typically system experts, not software experts, Chris explained. So, not only was the IT department at HealthPartners unfamiliar with how FM:Systems worked, but they also didn’t fully understand the application’s value to the organization – what it was doing, and why it was important.

“In reality, working with IT is like going to the doctor,” Chris said. “You need to know which specialist to see – otherwise you aren’t going to get the right diagnosis.”

Getting back on track.

Chris had identified the problem, but before he could pinpoint solutions, he had to learn how FM:Systems worked. Luckily, he was a quick study.

“Right away, I liked the challenge of the project, and I was interested in tracking its progress,” Chris said. “Not to mention, I saw the potential of the software to change the game for HealthPartners and get patients in and out faster.”

“Working with IT is like going to the doctor,” Chris said. “You need to know which specialist to see — otherwise you aren’t going to get the right diagnosis.”

Armed with his new understanding of the software, Chris identified the IT staff who could manage the application and support Rhonda’s requests. They began building relationships with the team, which enabled Rhonda set implementation deadlines and work around IT’s busy schedule.

“HealthPartners’ IT team manages multiple applications, user requests and help desk needs at once, as is the case with most large organizations,” Rhonda said. “We knew it was essential to communicate clearly to ensure IT understood what we needed, and to avoid overloading them with requests. Once we got connected with our core support team, it became much easier to scale our schedule and scope.”

Chris became a kind of human switchboard, relaying Rhonda’s requests to the right people and following up to ensure they were fulfilled. He checked in regularly with the HealthPartners team, helping educate them on the level of support needed from IT. And the project started to turn around.

Learn to Speak I.T.

Information Technology [infer’mashun tek’nälaje]; noun.
The study or use of systems (especially computers and telecommunications) for storing, retrieving, and sending information.

Overcoming roadblocks.

As they worked, Rhonda and Chris uncovered a key issue: when HealthPartners originally implemented FM:Systems in 2014, the software wasn’t configured for future expansion. It had been set up for just one hospital with one workflow.

The problem was permissions. In the initial configuration, some users had been assigned the wrong permissions within the software. Others could do too much, or too little. These issues not only caused inefficiencies and missed requests within the software, but also presented privacy concerns – a big deal for a healthcare organization with over a million patients.

“What really tripped us up was that FMS has five basic categories for people,” Chris said. “One of these is ‘everyone.’ Regions Hospital in St. Paul, MN had been set up to use the ‘everyone’ setting. But that meant a user in one of our Wisconsin clinics could potentially access, view, and even edit Regions’ information.”

He and Rhonda had to figure out how to retroactively redefine and reassign permissions to ensure sensitive data was not being shared with the wrong people. They created new filters to accommodate the different sites, and even accounted for staff who travel from location to location.

Chris’s involvement made it much easier to push these configuration changes through, and his understanding of the software, process and roles was another big advantage. When stakeholders started to backtrack on decisions or add more wants to the list, Chris was there to hold them accountable.

“I know from experience that facility managers are busy people,” Rhonda said. “This is especially true for such a large organization with so many sites. Chris helped me navigate the different departments and ensured the project stayed on-scope and on-schedule. And he also knew when to step in and take ownership, which helped keep things on track.”

The results.

Thanks to Rhonda’s FM:Systems knowledge and Chris’s IT expertise, the team was able to navigate an unfamiliar IT landscape and successfully complete the implementation. HealthPartners is now better equipped to manage their facilities, both now and in the future.

“Together, we were able to think through the entire system and considered how it could be better prepared for the years ahead – for a growing portfolio, and even changes to the healthcare system,” Rhonda said.

“We also learned that knowing your IT structure is critical, Chris added. “Not just the hardware and software, but the personnel as well. Get that dedicated application manager who will follow this through. Let them know why this is important, and empower them to own it.”

“Together, we were able to think through the entire system and considered how it could be better prepared for the years ahead – for a growing portfolio, and even changes to the healthcare system,” Rhonda said.

As proof of their success, this implementation project was just the beginning of Rhonda and Chris’s partnership: HealthPartners brought RSP i_SPACE back for ongoing support as their business – and the software – evolves.

Lessons Learned.

RSP i_SPACE services utilized: Facilities Information Solutions

Hitting Restart with your I.T. Department – Webinar

Join Chris Jones, Applications Manager at Health Partners, and Rhonda Rezac, Senior Associate at RSP i_SPACE, for a webinar that will discuss:

  • The challenges overcome and efficiencies gained by RSP i_SPACE in implementing FM:Systems for Health Partners
  • How a partnership with their IT team continues to deliver the benefits of FM:Systems facility management software to the fast-paced world of health care