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CIO Interview: The Real Scoop on MEDITECH Expanse

In a recent roundtable, James Reed, CIO of Conway Regional Health System, and Skip Rollins, CIO/CISO of Freeman Health System revealed their victories, lessons learned, decision-making strategies related to their planned move to MEDITECH’s Expanse platform.
Job Interview in Office

Guiding Principles for a Successful Implementation


CIO Profiles

In a recent roundtable, James Reed, CIO of Conway Regional Health System, and Skip Rollins, CIO/CISO of Freeman Health System revealed their victories, lessons learned, decision-making strategies related to their planned move to MEDITECH’s Expanse platform. While each story is unique, both leaders are passionate about cross-departmental collaboration, user adoption, tech innovation, and mobility.

  • James Reed’s organization has been a MEDITECH customer since 1997. They started on Magic, then transitioned to version 6 fifteen years later, and to 6.1 five years after that. James has already led his organization to Expanse.
  • Skip Rollins is still driving the decision-making process for his health system. Freeman, also a long-term MEDITECH customer, is currently on version 6.08 and GE Centricity.

This article will cover the key takeaways from ROI’s interview with the two CIOs, but the actual video interview “MEDITECH Expanse – What’s New, Lessons Learned, and Implementation Tips” is still available for viewing at:

What Features & Functions are Most Important

MEDITECH’s reputation has had to adapt to the pressures of the ever-evolving EMR market and has made changes to its management structure and technology in a noticeable way. In the roundtable, both CIOs shared what features and functions within Expanse made a real difference in the decision-making criteria.

  • A single chart for all points of care and revenue cycle workflows
  • The ability for rehab, critical access, acute care to use the same system and similar templates saves time and reduces errors. It creates a smooth experience for the provider and the patient. It also helps the operations team get a clear view of billable and reimbursable items.
  • Easy, flexible navigation that is accessible via web and mobile
  • The web-based solution makes deployments easier. It also creates a better experience for providers that are traveling from site to site. They don’t have to log in and out at each location. They can use iPads and mobile devices to access secure information through the web now.
  • Advanced technology
  • MEDITECH has made changes in their systems to improve the user experience. Their management structure has changed and their decisions about technology has a positive impact on interoperability requirements, integration, data aggregation/presentation. Their efforts are noticeable – and for long-term MEDITECH customers, this means a lot.

How to Create Unified Decision-Making across IT, Clinical, and Back Office

Curating an environment of trust, open-mindedness, and collaboration is key. In planning for next steps with MEDITECH, both CIOs recognize how important it is to get feedback from users and providers about what they want and which (optimal) workflows need to be supported by technology.

In both organizations, the formation of a Physician Advisory Committee that incentivizes and celebrates collaboration and candid feedback has been key. Engaging representation from every key department is necessary to make sure diverse perspectives are addressed and heard.

Simple questions that guide productive discussions include:

  • What would make your day easier?
  • What is NOT present now that creates manual effort now?
  • If you could reimagine your day with the best, most efficient approach to work and a positive patient experience, what would it look like?
  • Let’s look at the system out of the box and see how much of our workflows are accounted for.

Skipping this step could lead to dragging luggage from the past into the new version.

Another key approach to unified decision-making is to invite technology antagonists and protagonists into the equation, as well as those in the middle of the spectrum. This is a productive way to plan and invite diverse ways of viewing the same issue.

Skip Rollins shared that EMRs mostly all do the same thing – kind of like cars. The decision-making process has to go deeper, asking questions that reveal how each solution will help each organization grow, how it will align with strategic objectives, and which supports a best practice model. All members of the decision-making team need to keep this in mind when moving forward with their EMR upgrade or transition.

5 Steps to Save You Time, Money, Stress During Your EMR Project

  1. Involve leaders from all key clinical and non-clinical departments – build trust, decide which goals need to be accomplished and how they will be measured. Ask questions and don’t be quick to make assumptions.
  2. If you have not seen the best practices that have come out of the KLAS Arch Collaborative, you should take 15 minutes to search for it and absorb the guiding principles for EMR implementations. Why guess when you can learn from the best?
  3. Don’t over-stress your IT team and assume you can do every project on your own – engage experienced partners to help. Even for a small upgrade, it is important to protect the time and focus of your team.
  4. Expect the best, but prepare for hiccups – James Reed mentioned applying for a line of credit and to expect a temporary increase in AR days. However, Conway was in a solid position financially before the EMR upgrade. This was done in a proactive fashion to protect the financial stability of the organization.
  5. Remember your HIM / back-office teams. Any EMR project impacts operations folks as well and they may need extra support.

Today’s Decision Will Impact Your Organization for 5-10+ Years

Proper planning for your upgrade is key. Look for best practices that will support your organization well beyond your Go-Live date. According to James Reed, “whatever decision you make today will impact your organization, your team, your patients, and your financial position for 5-10+ years.” Choose wisely and leverage the experience of your peers and 3rd party firms. Make sure roles & responsibilities are defined.

Protect Your Legacy Systems While Re-Skilling Your Current Team

Oftentimes, CIOs focus their efforts on their upgrade or new implementation, but make the “keep the lights on” activity an afterthought. Many assume that existing team members can be trained on the new technology while they do their day jobs. That could burn people out and impact your project schedule. Consider engaging a trusted partner, such as ROI, to help with your backfill needs. This way, your team can focus on understanding the new technology and fulfilling the requirements of the clinicians, providers, and back-office staff while a 3rd party keeps things stable for you during the transition.

Need a Trusted Partner to Help Assess Your Total Cost of Ownership, Re-vamp your Workflows before an Upgrade, or Provide Backfill Resources during your Transition?

ROI Healthcare Solutions is a Best in KLAS health IT services firm that delivers with quality, true partnership, and results. You can reach our team at to schedule a call.


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