As IT leaders, we get used to hearing complaints about IT: we are not being responsive enough; our systems are unstable; too many clicks in the applications; not knowing who to call. The list goes on and on. There are times when you think you can’t possibly please everyone. It’s may be why so many people have sat across my desk and said they’d never want my job. But I have learned that proactive, honest communication with your users is critically important.
One step is to survey your users about their issues and their satisfaction with your solutions and services. This can be an extensive survey about a particular system or of one group of users. Or it can be a simple, few question survey after calls to the service desk. Regardless of the type of survey, make sure to let your customers know you’ve heard them. Publish the results and action steps to address problems. No matter how negative some of the results may be, you have to be transparent. And re-survey at the right interval to check if you have moved the dial.
Another step is to make the IT leadership team very visible and accessible. Provide easy to find information on who is responsible for what and how to contact them. Get out to the right leadership meetings and forums to provide IT updates; solicit feedback and concerns. Show you care and are listening. Continue reading
The first three months of my interim CIO engagement at University Hospitals has flown by. I’m fortunate to be working with a very talented IT team and we recognize there is always room for improvement. We have already made some very positive changes and improvements. We are tightening up how we manage and monitor the production environment to reduce preventable incidents. We do a root cause analysis on every major incident and review them as a team at our bi-weekly leadership meeting, tracking all subsequent action items. We are making progress on numerous major priority projects and there have been several system upgrades and go lives during this period. We are doing detailed planning for our new hospital integration efforts. We are launching our visual management board and leadership huddle next week as part of our lean efforts. And we have re-established an executive level IT steering committee addressing the critical need for IT governance.
Our third IT steering committee will be Monday evening. Our CEO and other senior executives are engaged – exactly what we needed. They are developing a deeper understanding of our current work and the many new requests we have received since this year’s budget was approved. We have reviewed with Continue reading
Mergers and acquisitions in health care have been common in recent years. Small community hospitals are becoming part of much larger integrated health systems. One of the common challenges these systems face is providing effective local service from central corporate departments.
Health systems may span a large metropolitan area, a portion of a state, or a multi-state region. And there are systems with a national footprint.
The health systems I’ve worked for are mostly the first; they have covered a large metropolitan area. Local hospitals may be as much as 100 miles apart and the corporate office somewhere in the middle. While much of the work goes on every day without face to face interaction, people are often expected to drive to key meetings either at the corporate office or at the hospitals. But the distances and the traffic can challenge support models for corporate functions. Continue reading
The whiteboard in my office has become a working draft for our IT leadership visual management board. And it’s become a focal point of discussion as I socialize the idea with our IT VPs, directors and managers. I’m encouraged that everyone who gets the walkthrough supports the idea and sees the value in it. They see the potential it has to address some fundamental problems in how we work as a department.
Ownership of the board is shifting to the team. I’m using color coded sticky notes to add ideas and pose questions. I’ve encouraged IT leaders to stop by and put their own sticky notes up as we develop it together.
Some have asked if they should do something similar with their own team. The answer is yes! We need to commit at the leadership level and model behaviors. But to truly be effective, each team should have some kind of visual management and huddle that rolls up to the leadership huddle. Continue reading
This week I will be sharing lessons I’ve learned as a lean leader and champion – in particular around visual management. The Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI) holds an annual Lean Transformation Summit where experts and practitioners come together from all industries to learn from one another.
My talk will cover a multi-year journey that has involved learning from others both in and out of healthcare, site visits, training classes, lots of reading, and experiments with my leadership team. Most of my talk is based on my experience and lessons learned at the University of Michigan Health System.
I was delighted to see that University Hospitals where I’m currently the interim CIO has been on their own lean journey since 2011. At our hospitals you will see huddles and visual boards throughout. Thousands of staff have been trained in lean concepts and methods. In contrast, there have been limited experiments with lean at the corporate office. I have a few allies in my IT leadership team who have experience with lean in other organizations. A good start!
I would have been making a mistake to arrive at UH as the interim CIO and start introducing lean methods week one. I needed to see and hear the problems that need to be addressed. Continue reading
I’m back from HIMSS16 and the sensory overload of Vegas. Like every year, the conference and exhibit hall was filled with new vendors and products. Trying to find the really new, new that is a breakout innovation can be a challenge with thousands of exhibitors. I expect to soon read many post HIMSS articles that will highlight the new innovations and the promising start-ups there.
The HX360 program was co-developed by HIMSS and AVIA, an innovation partner for more than 20 forward-leaning health systems. The program is an attempt to carve out during HIMSS an innovation focus for senior leaders. This year I attended the one-day HX360 Executive Program.
The highlight for me was a panel of CEOs and Chief Innovation Officers from leading health care organizations – Providence Health and Services, Dignity Health, Christiana Care and University Health Network in Canada. The panelists were forward thinking health care leaders and organizations. Continue reading
If you are drinking from a fire hose, you need to focus or you will drown. When so much new info is coming your way every day, you need a framework. When I started my present interim CIO engagement, I knew I needed to understand some key areas right away. They included strength of the leadership team, staffing, system performance, user satisfaction, budget, vendor relations, security, and IT governance.
Issues with system performance and dissatisfied users will find you even if you don’t go looking. Without solid system performance for your production environment, it’s hard to discuss anything else with your executives. If the issue affects your clinicians and their ability to see patients and manage their workload, you need to pay close attention. And you need to work with your team to figure out what’s going on and resolve it. System performance affects user satisfaction. Whether users love or hate a system they depend on, it has to be fast and reliable.
To quickly assess the IT leadership team, you need to understand their background and experience, their current scope of responsibility and their primary concerns. What are they struggling with? What help is Continue reading
Chris Greene Hutchings is staff specialist in the Office of the CIO. We have worked together closely during my tenure at UMHS. With my pending departure, Chris asked to be guest blogger this week.
When the leader you report to announces she is leaving, a parade of emotions marches through your life.
The first is denial. “NO! She can’t leave, because we need to. . .”
Then it’s the blues. “What does this mean for me?”
And ultimately, acceptance. “We did some good work, didn’t we?”
It’s a bittersweet feeling because it’s the first time you stop to look back and see how far you have come together. And you realize you didn’t take enough time to celebrate the successes, or appreciate the good along the way.
Our CIO, Sue, is starting the next chapter in her professional life. As I look back, I see how much our organization has changed. Continue reading
I am committed to developing the next generation of leaders. I also give generously to non-profits that I care about. This week, those two passions converged.
I hosted a “lunch and learn” with five women from Cisco. Jay Roberts, director operations sales, has been a strong supporter of Michigan Council of Women in Technology (MCWT), like many leaders in technology companies. At the annual MCWT gala fundraiser in October, I donated a “lunch and learn” session. I offered to meet with four women over lunch to have an open discussion on women’s leadership issues. Jay bid it up until he had no more competition. He then went back to Cisco and recommended a group of women to participate.
The women who lunched with me all currently work in the sales division for this technology company. They have different backgrounds in terms of college experience, technology education, and family history. They shared their stories and challenges with me. I asked each of them what they wanted to get out of our two hours together. After all, they all had plenty of work to do back at the office.
They wanted to talk about: work life balance and making time for self; how to lead with assertiveness and compassion yet not mother staff; common mistakes women leaders make; and where best to focus their volunteer energy.
The past month has been a particularly busy one for me. I have spoken locally a few times and gone out of town on business several times as well. I’ve been to the CHIME Fall Forum, made a site visit at Duke, and attended an AAMI board meeting. During that same period, I’ve given a talk on “Women in Technology” and participated on a CIO panel at the Midwest Fall Technology Conference in Detroit. I spoke on “High Impact IT” at the 2015 ICHITA Conference sponsored by the Center for Health Information Technology Advancement at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. I was one of two CIO guests on the CIO TalkRadio Show last week. And we published our monthly newsletter and held one of our twice a year department all staff meetings.
I have a busy schedule of meetings at multiple UMHS locations every day, so how did all these commitments come off without a hitch? The visual board my support staff and I started some weeks ago has made the difference! The only commitment that I scrambled on at the last minute was the one that hadn’t made it onto the board. That’s telling.
Prior to our visual board, I sometimes scrambled at the last minute to finish a presentation or finalize flight arrangements in time to get a reasonable price. Now, as a team, we can see into all the major events and commitments and take an organized approach to the shared tasks involved. Continue reading