Nurses Week 2014: Transforming Healthcare Through Nursing Leadership

09 May 2014 | Molly K. McCarthy RN, MBA, Chief Nursing Strategist, Microsoft

nurses week 2014Nurses Week 2014: Transforming Healthcare Through Nursing Leadership

I recently had the unique opportunity to spend an afternoon with Judy Murphy, RN, FACMI, FHIMSS, FAAN, the Deputy National Coordinator for Programs and Policy, HHS, and Ellen Makar, MSN, RN-BC, CCM, CPHIMS, CENP, Senior Policy Advisor, HHS, ONC Office of Consumer eHealth. We spoke about the nurses’ roles in healthcare transformation, and they shared their journeys in nursing leadership.

Nothing About Me Without Me

Ellen Makar was a triage nurse in the 1980s when she encountered patient tracking and population management, and computer input.  Her later work at a managed care company showed her the importance of data collection, productivity and price charges. During her tenure at Yale, in both a data analysis position and as Director of Nursing and Clinical Transformation, Ellen recognized the importance of measuring quality outcomes, and asking bigger questions, “how can we change/impact care to ensure better patient outcomes”? Ellen also successfully led the implementation of EPIC across the Yale hospital system.  Most importantly, Ellen gained confidence as a nurse and developed skills through an Emerging Leaders Program and is thankful for her dedicated mentors.

Ellen’s ultimate goal as a nurse is to make it easier for clinicians to do their job more effectively to ensure better care is provided to patients and families, while maintaining patient safety as top priority.  “Patients need to remember that they are consumers and have the right to ask for their data – ‘nothing about me without me’” stated Makar.

Nurses and Patients: Partners in Care

Judy Murphy was the first nurse in her hospital’s “Computer Services” department in the 1980s.  Her first exposure to computers was a mainframe computer where she helped develop a lab order entry and results application.  She saw the importance not just of having computer access to data, but the ability to trend that data over time to understand shifts in the patient’s condition and make clinical decisions.  During her 20+ years in the 15 hospital system, she led both Cerner and Epic EHR implementations. She also participated on the ONC Health IT Standards Committee, leading her to Washington, DC.  In her current role since December 2011, Judy brings a unique perspective and journey, and she emphasizes three important concepts:

  • Patient Centric Record.  Interoperability and data exchange are critical; making data accessible where and when it is needed.
  • Patient Engagement—which is really Patient Empowerment.  Patients should be involved in their health every day—not just at the time of check-ups.  Clinicians and patients should be partners in care. 
  • Optimization of Healthcare.  Once processes are automated, we need the ability to research and understand the data such that we continue with treatments that are successful, and stop doing the things that have no impact on outcomes.  The 17 years from bench to bedside is too long; we need to shrink this. 

Judy asks the tough questions, “How can we, as nurses change and demystify healthcare so that it is like everything else we do? We are consumers and partners in a system that should allow us to demand and appreciate quality.”  Murphy’s ultimate dream is “healthcare that is commoditized so that healthcare consumers will have the power to decide when, where and how much they are willing to pay for care.”  Murphy reminded me that Health IT is a means to an end—“We are doing it to get somewhere.  That place is better patient care with the ability to measure the outcomes.”

Nurses are well-positioned to implement the three concepts Murphy mentions and such an integral voice in the innovation and future of healthcare. To that end, Microsoft is excited to announce the launch of a Nurses Blog on International Nurses Day next Monday, May 12th. We are excited to share the nurse perspective from around the globe, including how technology and innovation are changing their roles as caregivers and impacting the lives of their patients. If you have any questions or would like to contribute to our Nurses for Microsoft in Health Blog, please email us.

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Molly K. McCarthy RN, MBA
Chief Nursing Strategist, Microsoft