I had the opportunity to participate in the CIO panel at the New England HIMSS Chapter Spring Conference this week. The questions for the panelists covered a range of issues that currently challenge healthcare CIOs.
- how mergers and acquisitions impact IT;
- how to improve patient engagement given the move to accountable care models;
- how to provide growth opportunities for our teams and;
- how to find time and resources to drive innovation.
I have been a CIO in a few different healthcare organizations recently, so I could describe multiple experiences with these challenges. While we have similar internal drivers, and face similar external constraints, no two organizations are the same.
These questions connected well with some of my focus areas during this current interim CIO engagement at Stony Brook Medicine. After about a month in the role, I summarized what I thought to be my focus areas and shared them with the executives. The feedback was that it was ambitious but on target.
Here’s that list. It’s generalized so you can consider it a good sampling of what interim CIOs can do for an organization, and what other CIOs may be focusing on: Continue reading
National Nurse Week begins tomorrow. I’m fresh off a 4-hour shift shadowing a nurse on a busy inpatient unit with cardiac surgery patients. I was taking part in the “Walk in My Shoes” program at Stony Brook Medicine where I currently serve as interim CIO.
All the executives were asked to block out 4 hours this week to shadow a nurse. I looked forward to my shift despite the other work on my desk. And as I told the nurse I shadowed, spending time on their unit was more fun than some of the problems I deal with as a CIO.
But I wasn’t there to have fun. I was there to understand what a nurse’s day is like and find ways that administration can help. And as the CIO, I wanted to understand how they use the systems we support and to find opportunities to improve them.
I donned a pair of scrubs, the universal hospital uniform and a fashion neutralizer. It’s amazing how different it feels to be on a nursing unit in scrubs compared to being a “suit” who periodically does rounds with a bunch of other “suits”. The staff seemed more willing to just tell it like it is when I encouraged them to be candid with me.
As soon as got to the unit a nurse realized I was from IT. His first thought was that I was there about a system problem that had been reported in the patient safety system. I introduced myself and my role as interim CIO. I told him that while I was there to shadow another nurse, I wanted to hear about their IT issues. This was my “gemba” walk with a group of nurses. Continue reading
You are past the big go live. You and your team are focused on optimization, enhancements, ongoing support issues, and upgrades. So, what should you expect from your vendor in this ongoing relationship?
I have worked with all the major EHR players and many other IT application and infrastructure vendors over the years. I have worked with three of the major EHR vendors just in the last 18 months given my interim CIO engagements.
My post “Keys to successful vendor management“ covered the importance of the product roadmap, service, total cost of ownership, reputation, contract, implementation, and escalation.
It’s time to look at the ongoing vendor relationship that clients should expect. Vendors, take note. I assume most of your clients would share this view. There’s a reason that the KLAS Research reports carry a lot of weight for CIOs, they are vendor evaluations from their peers.
Whether it is a large, proven vendor or a small start-up, here’s what you should expect: Continue reading
It’s that time of year. Maybe you just did a spring break trip with your kids or you are planning your summer getaway. Whatever it may be, you need to take time to reboot.
Leave the job behind and leave good people in charge and covering for you. Companies give vacation and PTO time for just that – Personal. Time. Off.
Over the years, I have gotten better at checking out and turning it off. I learned my lesson the hard way on a vacation many years ago with my family. It was ruined by being totally available for problems that arose back at work. I spent most of my time either on the phone or worrying about what was going on. Turns out, it wasn’t even concrete problems that needed to be addressed; it was just work politics.
I’ve shared my thoughts on the importance of taking time off openly so others don’t have to learn the hard way like I did. And I encourage my staff to take their vacation time and check out while away.
As it is, the days leading up to a vacation and the days following are tough enough. There’s everything you think you need to get done that just can’t wait a week or two on the front end. And then thinking you are a super human who can get through all their email for a week or two on the first day back. For those of you who can, is that badge of honor worth it? Continue reading
I am a lean leader and always willing to share my learnings. I’ve written several blog posts chronicling my lean experience at different organizations. Some of them have been quite popular with readers. I’ll call them my “lean classics”. Here’s a recap for your reference:
Huddles and Visual Management:
Leadership huddles: not just another meeting – describes my first IT leadership huddle launch back at University of Michigan Health System. As my lean coach said at the time, be willing to experiment, it doesn’t have to be perfect. We learned and tweaked it as we went through the PDCA cycle.
Making the invisible visible – describes the beginning stages of the visual board our IT leadership team created at University Hospitals in Cleveland.
Making the invisible visible – part 2 – describes that same effort several months after we launched it and how we used it as a team.
6 tips for successful huddle boards – based on experience, my advice to those considering their own huddle boards. Remember, you need to be willing to experiment.
Importance of rounding or going to the “gemba” – describes early experience with clinical and operational rounding both at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and University of Michigan Health System. Continue reading
A month ago, I started a new interim CIO engagement. This time I am serving Stony Brook Medicine on Long Island in New York. My last interim CIO position at University Hospitals in Cleveland ended in October. Since then, I have taken a break by design. When I started this new chapter, I wanted to work less than full time over the course of the year and have more flexibility in my life.
During this “break” period I wasn’t exactly idle though. I spent a lot of time doing start-up work for my new health IT advisory firm, StarBridge Advisors. And of course, I’ve spent plenty of time with my family, especially my four grandkids. My husband of 40+ years and I have had fun seeing each other so much but if you ask him, he’d say he was ready for me to be gone several days a week! He loves his quiet time and having the house to himself for a while.
This opportunity at Stony Brook Medicine brings a new set of challenges, but also many familiar ones I’ve seen before as a veteran healthcare CIO. Continue reading
Michigan Council of Women in Technology (MCWT) and #healthITchicks are two initiatives that focus on developing women in technology. As National Women’s History Month ends, I want to profile two leaders who are committed to developing women in IT through these groups. Leaders who inspire others.
Jennifer Dennard founded the #healthITchicks community several years ago. I asked her why she decided to start it, and she said, “I felt that women working in healthcare technology needed a dedicated social media space where they could network, learn, advise, and ultimately harness the tremendous energy and expertise they have in a way that would be beneficial to us all.”
Lofty as that sounds, she admits it may have been shortsighted. She believes that, the women (and men) who have joined have helped the #healthITchicks community blossom into truly a force for good. So what have they accomplished?
The network has grown to over 550 people, and the hashtag has taken on a life all its own. Her efforts have provided a springboard to the many conversations about women working in health IT and technology at large. Continue reading
We have two little dogs. Pepe is a 10 year old Shih Tzu/poodle and Coco is an 8 year old Shih Tzu /Bichon. Pepe had been getting frailer and weaker throughout the Fall months.
We thought this might be her last year with us. But her blood work in November showed that she has a thyroid problem. She now gets a daily medication and has more energy and no longer sleeps most of the day. The name Pepe (as in peppy) is fitting her again.
She had also been losing weight and getting very thin. So, we started her on canned food. Maybe she had a problem with the dry food she has always eaten. Or maybe Coco, who is dominant, wasn’t letting her get to the food dish. What dog or cat doesn’t love canned food??? Pepe loves it and has been gaining weight. While my husband and I are still getting used to that nasty moment when you first open the can of wet food, we do it because we love her and want her to gain weight and get strong. It’s working.
When we recently took Pepe to the vet to deal with a digestive problem, the vet found she had a broken tooth and the area around it was inflamed. She would need surgery to have it pulled. That happened this week and all is well. She is even back to eating treats that take some chewing. In hindsight, the broken tooth could have been the reason she stopped eating the dry food.
Animals can’t talk or “use their words” as we tell small children, so it’s hard to know when something is wrong. And it’s hard to know the interconnections between all these issues. Continue reading
There continues to be a lot of focus on telecommuting and open office space for knowledge workers in large organizations. Both are important yet not everyone agrees they are good – a lot depends on the organization and the culture.
But I want to focus on another “space planning” topic, co-location. As health care organizations grow, administrative departments including IT often end up being spread out in many office buildings, sometimes at great distances from the hospital with a lot of traffic in between.
The investment needed to centralize all the administrative functions in one building often takes backseat to investing capital in clinical space. No surprise. Video conferencing is always an option for bridging the miles. This technology continues to advance and become more of a commodity. National and global companies must leverage technology but health care systems are mostly local or regional.
In my many years of health IT management, I’ve experienced a variety of space situations: Continue reading
Remember those first few days on a new job? You were officially onboarded, and signed a lot of forms. You learned all the basic processes and policies that new employees need to know. And you got the big picture of the organization’s mission, vision, values and culture. Your head is spinning by the end of day one and even week one, but everyone is patient with you. They recognize that it is a lot to take in.
In that early period when you are introduced to lots of people, everyone is so happy to see you. Everyone is offering to help you get up to speed, and do whatever they can to make your onboarding smooth.
And then you realize they all need something from you. They all think you can solve all the problems. But you are still given some time before you start waving your magic wand.
You’re on a honeymoon. It will be measured in days or weeks but usually not months. You must drink from the firehose, get to know all the key people and start adding value. “Proving yourself,” as they say.
You may have relocated, so you’re also getting to know your new town.
It can be exhilarating and overwhelming all at the same time. Continue reading