How I Work: A day with CIO, Peretz Stern

I’m Peretz Stern, CIO of AristaCare Health Services, and this is How I Work.

We sat down with Stern to talk about his work style and his experience with implementing PointClickCare’s EHR solution in seven new facilities that AristaCare recently acquired. Peretz gives us a look into the daily life of Healthcare IT, how PointClickCare’s technology is helping to redefine the role of Healthcare IT, and how good food brings people together.

Tell us your healthcare journey, how did you get to where you are today?
I had a background in commercial markets, handling IT in large warehousing and logistic operations. I had an opportunity to consult for AristaCare as they were in the process of becoming established. I’ve had a relationship with the founders ever since, and continued to work with them on a consultative basis as AristaCare grew from one facility to three.

At that point, I solidified the partnership by joining AristaCare permanently with a mandate to grow our IT infrastructure and processes. We’ve been growing rapidly ever since — expanding to seven facilities, and recently undertook an acquisition of eight new facilities.

Not having started your career in long term care, would you ever go back?
No, I enjoy working in long term care. We’re dealing with people, making a real difference. It’s not just moving boxes.

What are you most passionate about in your job?
The impact we have on the lives of people. Working in IT before having an EHR was just a grind. With the EHR, I am personally invested in the system and ensuring that we are maximizing its capabilities to provide the best care possible. There is a tremendous feeling of fulfillment in long term care. I’m a lifer.

How long has AristaCare been using PointClickCare’s solutions?
We have been using PointClickCare for the last two-and-a-half years. As we began to grow rapidly, it just made sense to implement these solutions because there is only so much somebody can do with paper. There is a tremendous value in being electronic: the efficiency, having a clear picture, remaining compliant but more importantly, providing better care. Knowing that — when looking at a chart — it was accurate and complete was a big factor.

When you start to add on the other modules; labs and radiology, pharmacy integration, therapy, and nutrition management, the team really starts to become a cohesive unit. Everyone is on the same page and we have accurate, secure, and consistent documentation.

Now our plan is to implement PointClickCare in our New Jersey facility as well as get the seven new facilities we have brought on up to speed and integrated. 

Bringing on seven new facilities is quite an initiative. How are you handling this transition from a technology perspective?
We just call and you take care of everything for us! As we’ve rolled we’ve learned to ask for help when needed. PointClickCare has an amazing plethora of implementers and partners. We engage them when we launch a new solution, sometimes when it’s just a concept. Our PointClickCare project manager has been a rockstar from day one. Without the assistance of roles mentioned, I don’t know how far we’d get. We, of course, have a good core team of people who have bought into it and they are completely committed to it. They weigh heavily and usually are the champions for that solution.

The biggest challenge is rolling that ‘buy-in’ down to the facility. That’s where the training becomes so important. Ensuring that everyone is cognizant of their role as it relates to the technology, and having the right team in place to extend this training. From an IT perspective, it’s about getting all the departments aligned. We ensure that everyone is able to meet the go-live date and that their teams are ready and trained to use the technology once we “flip the switch”.

As you go through a transition like that, what are the challenges that you face?
Change management. That’s the hard job.

While bringing on new facilities we, as an organization, need to learn how the new facilities run. Some are more independent than others. Our role is to learn, migrate and support. In our case, with these new facilities, you have some people who have used an EHR before and others who are coming off of paper. It’s a big change for them, and from our perspective, we have to make sure that we do the best job we can to make the changes as easy as possible.

Training is essential. We try to ensure that we create training programs based on the individuals and monitor the progress throughout. SmartZone has been a worthwhile facilitator for training our original buildings, as well as our new one. We are up to 3000 employees at this point, so ensuring that the right teams are in place with a clear and committed vision is important in dealing with change management.

If you were to go back to a time where AristaCare didn’t have PointClickCare, what would you miss most?
I can’t wrap my head around that… PointClickCare is what drives our business. It’s impossible, I don’t see long term care, or any type of care for that matter, not being electronic.

What advice would you give a fellow IT professional considering an EHR solution?
Make sure that the buy-in is there. Make sure that your organizational culture is ready for it. It’s a challenge but it is worth it, stay steady and patient and you will make it happen. And make sure you train. TRAIN TRAIN TRAIN.

From a healthcare-IT perspective, it has redefined my role and really given purpose to my department. It’s no longer just common IT tasks. The work really matters and makes an impact. You really get to understand your business.

What do you do outside of work? How do you recharge?
I’m in the office a lot! I like to recharge by spending time with my family, and I enjoy cooking. Cooking is great, except for the cleaning up part, that I am not a fan of.

What’s your signature dish?
Steak! Any day. I like to see cooking as a form of nurturing, it’s why I enjoy doing it. Bringing together friends and family, that’s what keeps me occupied when I’m not in the office.

If you could describe your work style in one or two words, what would it be?
All in.

I enjoy what I do, and I throw myself at my work. I am far enough in at this point that I don’t have much time to do anything else, but I’m not complaining. I thoroughly enjoy it. A lot of that enthusiasm and enjoyment comes from using PointClickCare’s technology solutions. Before that, it was just a job with great people. With this technology, it puts a new bow on the whole package.

Read More: A day with VP of IT and Accounts Receivable, Ilene Shapiro

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