For Eric Helsher, addressing large-scale opportunities in healthcare starts with a one-on-one relationship.
In his work at Epic, Eric matches community members with their Epic “Best Friend Forever,” a long-term partner and champion who supports their initiatives to improve care.
“The name ‘Best Friend Forever’ gets a laugh, but it’s quite fitting,” Eric said. “The idea is to be their best friend and a trusted partner; someone who can match their goals to the software and best practices we’ve seen work across the community over 40 years.”
Eric has personally seen the value of these connections. He started a career at Epic after an eye-opening conversation with his primary care provider about the future of electronic health records.
“After that visit, I started on the Epic implementation team and eventually worked with SSM Health, and my PCP actually became the CMIO,” he said. “I’ve been working with SSM Health ever since, for nearly 15 years.”
BFFs work day-to-day with their organization to ensure that they’re happy and successful, such as by sharing resources to support the organization’s long-term goals. For example, organizations might replicate peers’ successes through Clinical and Financial Programs, learn about insights from HIMSS or the KLAS Arch Collaborative, and spread the news about their own successful patient care and business process initiatives for others to follow.
“It’s very much a matchmaking process to find the right BFF for each organization,” Eric said. “A BFF might be working with the healthcare provider from his or her hometown, or share a specific interest in pediatric healthcare, or simply match the personality of that organization. It’s a really personal relationship.”
“The BFF role is unique. They’re not salespeople—this is a person who knows the organization and loves them, and is invested in their success. I haven’t seen anything like it in the industry.”
“Why We Do What We Do” is a series of stories from Epic staff about how their work relates to their personal missions to help our community members serve their patients and transform healthcare delivery.
Photo caption: Eric Helsher and SSM’s leadership team, including Dr. Richard Vaughn, unveiling the countdown to Epic go-live clock.