Avera Health Inspires Clinicians Through Nurse Leadership, Vision, and MEDITECH’s EHR


“The EHR is a healthcare organization’s neurologic system — critical to life,” says Judy Blauwet, MPH. “And because of that, CNOs must be fully engaged, collaborating with CIOs and CMIOs in all aspects of the system to ensure its success.”

Blauwet, who is the senior VP of hospital operations/CNO of Avera McKennan Hospital (Sioux Falls, SD), drew from her experiences championing MEDITECH’s EHR, when she applied the traits of transformational leadership to inspire her nurses to embrace healthcare change. To secure their support, she knew she needed to stay connected to her clinicians — to help them understand where Avera had been and where it was going, as well as the important role nurses played in that journey.

“An organization’s vision is its story,” says Blauwet. “The CNO must communicate that story to staff, or the nurses will make up their own.”

Transform and Engage

Reaching out to nurses was a key component of Avera’s vision to merge over 300 facilities into one “family” to adapt to healthcare reform. This also meant getting nurses’ support for centralizing and standardizing the organization’s MEDITECH EHR to support consistent, quality care.

“To be transformational leaders and truly engage nurses, CNOs need to assure them that we have their backs,” she says. “One way we can do that is to ensure that our EHR is always congruent with our vision for healthcare, and our mission to help patients.”

Get Involved

Blauwet sees the increased involvement of CNOs as crucial to long-term success with IT adoption. “Today, CNOs need to do more than manage implementation of the EHR — we need to manage implementation of an entirely new mindset,” she says.

“At Avera, our Clinical Informatics Council is just as integral today as it was during our implementation — except now, our focus is on how we can align and integrate people with new processes and technology. Fortunately, with one standard MEDITECH EHR across Avera Health, our clinical informatics initiatives got a whole lot easier.”

Transformative Traits

CNO Judy Blauwet of Avera McKennan Hospital notes the five essential things healthcare leaders can do to help their staffs embrace change.

  • Motivate others through a strong sense of purpose
  • Articulate a vision, and repeat it often
  • Understand that each person is unique
  • Encourage innovation and provide intellectual stimulation
  • Inspire everyone by modeling integrity and ethical behavior.