Harper, now 39, was the youngest person in his emergency medicine group working at the hospital in 2004 when it planned to implement an electronic health-record system in the ED, complete with computerized physician order entry. The leadership of the group looked around for someone to head up the implementation. When their eyes turned to Harper, it was time to learn IT—fast.
“I didn't even like computers to begin with,” concedes the winner of a 2013 AMDIS Award from the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems. “I was the youngest person in the group, and I was up for partner and so I didn't have a choice. I took on the responsibility.”
A few years later, leaders of the Daughters of Charity Health System, the six-hospital group that operates St. Francis, came calling. Noting his past success in the ED, “They asked if I would assist them in implementing an EHR they selected for all of their hospitals.”
“I wish I had had more input in the selection,” he says, “but my role was to really help them once they made the selection and get the physicians involved.”
He also wished he would have had more time to implement it. St. Francis was the first hospital to “go live”—on June 9, 2012. That meant they had to achieve 90 days of “meaningful use” of the new EHR before the fiscal year ran out Sept. 30. “We had to be ready to report July 1,” he recalls. “You basically had three weeks to start reporting everything.”