Partnerships and Perseverance

When listening to Valerie Fong, M.S.N., R.N., speak, it does not take long to recognize how committed she is to her journey to improve the care experience for both clinicians and patients. In a 2006 issue of Minority Nurse, a story entitled “Valerie Fong: From Truck Driver to Nurse Manager” showcased the first 15 years of her journey. That story ended at the beginning of the next stage of her journey as she prepared to take on the new role of Patient Care Services Practice Leader for KP HealthConnect.

At the start of this new chapter in Fong’s career she said, “As we are moving towards uncharted territory into a high-tech world of electronic documentation, knowing operations from the ground up put me in a position to really influence the nursing and ancillary practice strategies and standards of tomorrow.”

Today, as she serves in a new role, Senior Manager/Director of Care Delivery Transitions for National Patient Care Services with Kaiser Permanente, her past experience has been invaluable. The transition to this new position comes after a seven-year journey of leading a collaborative build, an enterprise-wide design for all of Kaiser’s 36 sites across the nation.

“This experience really made me appreciate the saying ‘it’s all about the journey and not the destination,'” says Fong. “There have been so many lessons learned along the way.” A major part of that journey was partnering not only a health information technology (HIT) company, but a clinical content company to create a meaningful plan of care and documentation for clinicians.
Fong was a key lead in the “care planning journey,” which began in October of 2004. The National Nursing Leadership Council (NNLC) created a vision for the clinical information system:

  • Embed evidence-based content.
  • Reflect evidence-based practice.
  • Support a professional practice framework.
  • Enable point-of-care documentation.

That vision led them to the CPM Resource Center and a process of using evidence-based critical practice guidelines as a tool to create a plan of care within their clinical information system. “We saw the value of using the CPM guidelines within the workflow because they are based on professional scope of practice and our analysis also supported not reinventing the wheel from a cost avoidance perspective,” says Fong.

So what are some of the major lessons Fong has taken away from one of the largest clinical information system implementations ever accomplished? She reflects, “I have really learned the value of strong partnerships and enduring perseverance. These partnerships include those we have experienced both internally and externally. I have had some great team members that have been champions on their commitment to the vision and valuing partnership in our day-to-day work culture and that makes all the difference.” Regarding perseverance, Fong says, “Major transformation does not happen quickly; staying focused and moving forward is critical.”

Some of those lessons have also helped Fong in her personal life. Fong spends her work weeks in various Kaiser offices, away from her Fresno, California, home. She credits her husband for supporting her in their 14-year partnership while she pursues better-coordinated care. Fong and her husband both love the outdoors and have some annual traditions, such as participating in a golf tournament benefiting the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation in Seattle, Washington. The outdoors also provides Fong with important balance for her busy work life, so you will often find her on a long walk or bike ride.

So what’s next for Fong? She says she plans to continue focusing on the continuum of care and bridging the inpatient care planning process across many diverse health care delivery systems (home, ambulatory, retail, etc.). One thing is for certain—partnership is the way to tackle these major transformational changes. “We cannot afford to maintain the status quo. To move an organization forward and set the bar higher you must know where you are, where you want to go,” Fong says. “You must establish truly collaborative and dynamic partnerships to enhance and expedite the journey.”