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The Cutting Edge - Kenneth Costta, Clinical Operations Manager

Cutting Edge Spring 2013

Kenneth Costta, Clinical Operations Manager

Date: April 1, 2013


Not everything having to do with surgery happens in the confines of an operating room or even an examination room. Indeed, much of the surgery department’s success depends on the hard work of people operating in the background, not with a scalpel, but from an office, behind a desk, with a computer and a telephone. Enter clinical operations manager Kenneth Costta, who’s tasked with ensuring that things run well between all facets of the surgery department—from the clinic to the OR. And, with outpatient clinics throughout Johns Hopkins Medicine—including surgery—preparing for the transition to Epic electronic medical records, Costta’s role has become even more challenging as he and his team work to make sure the department is ready for the change, scheduled for June 2013.

Epic is clearly an important focus right now, but what else does your job entail?

My primary function is making sure things flow smoothly. For instance, I make sure nurses and nurse practitioners have everything they need to meet with patients. Or if things break or don’t work, it’s my job to solve the problem, including by maintaining equipment. 

How is preparing for Epic affecting day-to-day life in the surgery department? 

Epic is going to affect everything we do, from the way the patient is scheduled to how the physician writes a prescription. Our patients have certain nuances, and I’m making sure to gather input on issues that might be unique to our department. 

What’s been the biggest concern throughout the department with regard to Epic? 

Mainly that the transition will slow things down, especially for physicians. It’s all going to be electronic rather than writing prescriptions or ordering MRIs using pen and paper.

What are you doing to ensure a smooth transition? 

For one thing, we’re making sure everyone has as much exposure to the program and as much practice as possible. It’s like driving: The more time you can spend doing it, the better you become at it. We’ve also participated in the validation sessions, which were an opportunity for every specialty to provide feedback about their needs and concerns. And, of course, once the transition begins, my main role will mean being available wherever I’m needed and making sure I have answers to questions.