Mountain State Health Alliance

Mountain States Health AllianceMountain States Health Alliance (MSHA) is the region's largest healthcare system with fourteen (14) hospitals, eighty (80) clinics, serving twenty-nine (29) counties in Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, and North Carolina. MSHA’s integrated healthcare delivery system includes twenty-one (21) primary/preventive care centers and numerous outpatient care sites. MSHA is committed to “Bringing Loving Care to Health Care.” They passionately pursue healing of the mind, body, and spirit as they create a world-class healthcare system. The health system has 9,000 team members; a 1,220 physician medical staff; 3,500 volunteers; and 1,000 students.

Mountain State Health Alliance

The Challenge

The MSHA Information Technology Organization was challenged to implement a clinical system (enterprise- wide); address the meaningful use of technology; and redefine how the organization and delivery of new information technology (IT) with physicians and leadership would be delivered.

The Collaborative Approach

JTS Health Partners (JTS) executive advisors and project managers were privileged to travel the journey, on-site, day-in and day-out with “the team” at MSHA. In just one year, the collaborative efforts of JTS and MSHA garnered an impressive list of accomplishments. Mr. Paul Merrywell, Vice President and Chief Information Officer at MSHA, explained the success as follows: “It’s a combination of things, but a key factor is ‘the team.’ The team needs to execute within precision, within scope, and at the same time, build strong relationships with our customers.”

Ms. Pam Austin, Information Systems Area Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at MSHA, assisted Mr. Merrywell by overseeing all operational and technology aspects. Ms. Austin added that efforts such as the IT Governance Committee, comprised of senior level MSHA leadership, fostered an environment of inclusion between IT departments and customers. Mr. Merrywell and Ms. Austin also developed an IT Project Committee for the internal IT Project Management team, in which project managers addressed critical issues with members of IT leadership. “This process gives us the opportunity to remove barriers for project managers prior to issues escalating within the facilities or to system senior leaders,” Ms. Austin explained.

The Accomplishments

The MSHA Information Technology Organization and JTS made strides in building strong customer relationships through strengthened communications before, during, and after the service encounter. “Sitting down with our customers to clearly articulate needs, expectations, and accountability ownership is critical,” explained Mr. Merrywell. MSHA conducted “Lessons Learned” interviews with key stakeholders. Ms. Austin said this was a “very telling” moment about what and sometimes who stands out.