Three questions with Garri Garrison

Sept. 21, 2020 / By Garri Garrison, Kelli Christman

I sat down with Garri Garrison, Division Vice President of 3M Health Information Systems, to talk about COVID-19, the impact it has had on the health care industry and examples of innovative solutions our clients have demonstrated over the last few months.

Welcome to Inside Angle! You have a very interesting background, tell us about your unique journey to 3M.

Growing up, I wanted to be a physician. In order to fund my education, I entered a nursing program thinking I could work nights/weekends while I went to medical school. I found that I loved nursing and ultimately made the decision to continue with my nursing career and spent 15 years as a critical care, open heart and trauma nurse. I then made the transition to corporate life and joined a health care accounting firm out of Atlanta. This company started clinical documentation improvement (CDI), so my unique background helped me bridge the gap between coding and clinical as I worked in consulting to help organizations achieve regulatory compliance, educate physicians as well as achieve appropriate reimbursement. The company was acquired by 3M in 1999, thus launching my 3M journey. In 2005, I became a Six Sigma Black Belt and took a leadership position in consulting. After that, I led the emerging business team and later the performance management team. Most recently, I led the 3M and M*Modal integration, and was then named the U.S. and Canada director prior to my new role.

COVID-19 has changed the way we do business, travel and educate, just to name a few. What unique solutions have you seen 3M HIS clients implement to pivot in this new and unprecedented time?

COVID-19 has put stress on our clients and the entire health care industry that we’ve never experienced before, at least in our lifetime. Most health care organizations have disaster plans in place for things like a plane crash, car accident, active shooters, etc., but I don’t think anyone was prepared for a global pandemic of this magnitude. With that said, our clients jumped into action and immediately went into disaster planning mode. They quickly assessed and triaged needs, created a plan for how to sort and treat both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients, and keep their workforce active, safe and relocated those that could appropriately work offsite.

For COVID-19 patients, most health care organizations deployed triage units in the parking lot so they could continue to serve non-COVID-19 individuals in the emergency departments. They converted ICU beds to accommodate the sickest COVID-19 patients and shuffled frontline workers to support where they were needed the most. In other words, our health care leaders were building the plane as they were flying it; and they did a phenomenal job responding to a rapidly evolving situation.

Hospital staff not on the frontlines were quickly moved to a remote working environment, including revenue cycle teams, so they could continue their work seamlessly. IT teams quickly stood up telehealth programs for health systems to safely serve their communities. Technology became an even more powerful tool to accomplish both personal and professional objectives. While most hospitals have seen a dramatic impact to bottom lines, it’s clear they put the health and safety of their employees and patients ahead of profit.

Tell us what’s been your favorite success story with our clients over the last few months?

I am so proud of our 3M HIS team. They have banded together to support each other and every one of our clients. They’ve been deeply engaged with each client and responded to new and urgent needs by quickly standing up technology to support our clients. One example I’m particularly proud of is our work with a hospital on the east coast. Typically, when we add a new medical facility (in this case, a field hospital) to our coding applications, it takes approximately 90 days. Our 3M HIS team rallied together with the hospital’s team to deploy a solution in just one week! We adapted to processes on the fly, cleared work and personal calendars and worked side-by-side with our client to make real-time decisions. It was so great to see such a strong partnership work together to accomplish a shared goal and ensure our frontline workers had access to the technology and resources they needed to best serve their patients. Since then, we’ve replicated this expedited process with multiple clients.

Garri Garrison is division vice president for 3M Health Information Systems.

Kelli Christman is senior marketing communications and strategic communications specialist at 3M Health Information Systems.