Interview with Tom Q. Jørgensen, program manager.

It's a brilliant system

The healthcare platform, Denmark’s largest IT project in the healthcare sector, will replace 30 systems and standardize treatment on the island of Zealand. A brilliant project, says Region Zealand’s program manager.

Interview with Tom Q. Jørgensen, program manager through ProData Consult

50,000 descriptions of how to treat everything from broken bones to blood clots have been boiled down to just 12,000 in the Capital Region of Denmark and Zealand Region. Using the same guidelines, the same journal and the same system means that it will be easier to move staff between hospitals and regions and optimize processes further over time. Even though the healthcare platform is the most expensive IT system in Denmark, the people behind it are calculating that thanks to its many advantages, costs will be recouped by around 2022. 

“It’s a brilliant system, and we should have started on it years ago. I only hope that it will become such a big success that it’ll be implemented all over Denmark. Denmark is so small that it would make good sense to have the same system,” says Tom Q. Jørgensen, the program manager of the healthcare platform for Zealand Region.

In addition to replacing 30 large systems, the healthcare platform will also eliminate hundreds of smaller systems. As a consequence, the cost of running the hospitals in the Capital Region of Denmark and Region Zealand will fall dramatically. Workflows will be simpler, because it won’t be necessary to integrate with so many systems, which will improve patient safety. The system integrates several hundred medical systems - the blood bank, operating theatres, and so on - in a single system, which significantly reduces the risk of losing data or getting patient data mixed up. What’s more, data is available immediately.

Staff loan agreements ensure knowledge

But before these benefits can be realized, the healthcare platform needs to be rolled out in Region Zealand. This should proceed more painlessly than the trailblazing process in the Capital Region of Denmark, which lacked experience to draw on when the rollout started. According to Jørgensen, Region Zealand is well-organized and efficient, and the goal is for the rollout of the healthcare platform to proceed in the most uniform possible way at all hospitals despite taking place over such a large geographical area. To ensure this, regional implementation groups with their own implementation coordinators have been formed. Each implementation coordinator is responsible for relaying standardized communication, training, readiness and technique to the individual hospitals. Within the healthcare platform, the region’s hospitals will function as a single hospital with many subunits.

“Staff loan agreements have been made to enable Region Zealand to loan personnel to the Capital Region of Denmark, so that they can learn from the process and return to Region Zealand with important knowledge which they can contribute to the rollout,” explains Jørgensen.

A large training program is being run parallel with the loan agreements. Jørgensen’s team will send about 20,000 people on courses in 2017 to ensure that everyone is fully prepared to work with the new system. Because this part of the project has a high priority, participation in the courses will be monitored closely.

A well-prepared rollout

The major challenge will be handling patients during the implementation of the system. There will be a preliminary period of 14 days during which the hospitals will be on high alert, followed by a period of 4-6 weeks on extremely high alert. The actual conversion and startup will only take two days, during which the hospitals will be on high alert. Unlike the implementation at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, the system is already up and running. The server complex and operations have already been set up, and Region Zealand is already designing the servers, which are expected to be in place during the first quarter of 2017. The existing hardware at the individual departments has also been inventoried, and any necessary equipment will be purchased in February - May 2017. Finally, Jørgensen’s team will perform a technical dress rehearsal to ensure that all clinical personnel are able to log in at every single department in the region.

Leader and lobbyist

It was no accident that Jørgensen was selected as program manager for Region Zealand’s part of the project. Highly skilled project managers were high on the region’s wish list for external resources, and this description fits Jørgensen. In addition, he also has many years of experience both as a client and supplier to the public sector, for example from The Interior Ministry and the Danish National Police. This gives him the authority to keep a tight rein on a very large, complex project with many stakeholders and a hardcore business technology aspect. And lots of politics.

“It takes a lot of lobbying and working to influence particular areas. Progress is measured differently here than elsewhere. There’s a lot of focus on making sure the political system is oriented about what’s happening. I have to demonstrate that I get a lot of decisions implemented. Instead of simply allocating budgets, I have to demonstrate that I’m spending the money as planned. There are a lot of stakeholders with different opinions, so it’s incredibly educational,” explains Jørgensen, who has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology.

He continues:
“Textbooks are one thing, but seeing people’s reactions in high-pressure situations is something else entirely. Their backgrounds play into their work, and it’s important to take this into account so that everyone gets a sense of being involved in an exciting project. If you do that, they’ll go the extra mile to reach the goal - and making that happen is a fantastic feeling.”

Facts about the healthcare platform

  • The healthcare platform is a EUR 0,375 billion IT system which will replace 30 major IT systems and hundreds of smaller systems. Approx. 44,000 hospital employees and approx 2.5 million citizens will make use of the new healthcare system
  • The healthcare system will be implemented at all hospitals in the Capital Region of Denmark and Region Zealand by 2018
  • In May 2016, the system was implemented at the first hospital, Herlev and Gentofte Hospital

Who's who

Name: Tom Q. Jørgensen
Age: 56
Education: MSc in Engineering, diploma degree in business administration, degree in project management from Minneapolis/St. Paul University. BSc in psychology with a focus on management
Title: Program Manager, Region Sjælland