It’s that time again. Time to close out my current interim CIO engagement and transition to the new CIO. I’m delighted to share the news that Stony Brook Medicine has hired Kathy Ross as their next CIO. She starts July 24th and we will have a few weeks together to complete the transition.
Kathy brings extensive healthcare CIO experience having served for many years as a CIO within Ascension Health. She is no stranger to Cerner, our core EMR vendor. But walking into a new environment with all its complexities and uniqueness is a challenge for the most seasoned leader.
We can only have one CIO at a time so day one, it will be Kathy. I will work out of a temporary space nearby. My focus and role will be to support her and provide as much background information as I can to ensure she gets up to speed quickly.
While I have only been serving as interim CIO since early March, my plan for what I need to fill her in on is long and growing. It includes a review of where we’re at on my focus areas during this interim. We’ll block time to review together key background information and issues needing attention. And we’ll do meetings together with everyone on the IT leadership team as part of the handoff.
I learned at my last interim to block out chunks of time to review everything on the transition outline and not let the usual day to day meetings fill all available time. Continue reading
Communicate, communicate, communicate. How often have you heard it said that you can’t communicate enough?
A best practice for CIOs is to have “all staff” meetings at least quarterly or semi-annually. Regardless of the size of the IT department and the logistical challenges of getting people in one place, these meetings have value. Depending on the geographic spread of the IT team and availability of meeting space, you can always leverage technology to allow staff to dial in from their workspace.
Connecting with colleagues that they only hear on conference calls or “see” via email has value. If you are able within your budget to provide food, all the better to encourage social time before or after the actual meeting.
Such meetings allow you or guest speakers to provide the big picture on your organization’s strategy and priorities so everyone understands how their work fits in. You can communicate key updates and information on major projects and new processes that impact all or most of the staff. You can use it as a forum to provide education on key topics that all IT staff need to understand such as cybersecurity or bring in a motivational speaker.
At one organization where I served as CIO, shortly after I started, one of my direct reports was quick to tell me the exact number of years, months, and days since their last all staff meeting. How do you really feel about that was what I wanted to ask him. But I quickly understood he was representing staff who missed those meetings and wanted them re-introduced. I did ask why they were discontinued. The story I got was that the previous leader was asked a difficult question by a staff member, felt on the spot and didn’t want that to happen again.
As a leader, I welcome questions, even if I can’t answer them. Continue reading
Last week was teacher recognition Sunday at our church. The many people who volunteer in our children’s religious education program were recognized and thanked for their service.
The title of our minister’s sermon was “A Teacher Is One Who Talks in Someone Else’s Sleep”. With the influence of teachers in all situations in mind, he asked us some key questions:
- Who is speaking to you?
- Who are you speaking to?
- What messages are you sending?
As a leader, this resonated with me. Leaders are teachers in every sense of the word. We teach by what we say and what we don’t say; what we do and what we don’t do. We teach with words and gesture. We teach with how we respond to situations. We teach in how we treat people regardless of their position and level in the organization.
So, what kind of teacher are you? And what kind of teacher do you want to be?
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, has said, “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence”.
When I take on a new position, I share with my team my values and guiding principles. I want them to know what is important to me and what I expect. And I continually reinforce those messages as we work together. Continue reading
As we all watch events in Washington unfold, each of us knows that the organizations we work for expect us to behave ethically in all that we do. We sign confidentiality agreements; we complete conflict of interest disclosures and we receive ethics training.
Whether you consider yourself a “rules follower” or one who likes to “ask for forgiveness, not permission”, you know that you must act ethically and lawfully.
I appreciate the advice I received from a boss early in my career – always do what’s right for the organization. If there is any doubt when I fill out my conflict of interest form, I error on the side of disclosing more rather than withholding information.
And then there’s nepotism – something both small and large organizations need to manage. They figure it out. Unless you are a family owned business, you should not be hiring or managing family members.
I worked at an organization that was named by the Ethisphere Institute as a “World’s Most Ethical Company” five times since 2012 – University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio. Their Chief Compliance Officer, Kim Bixenstine, and the entire executive team took great pride in this honor. And they should. University Hospitals is one of only seven healthcare providers named to the list in 2017.
Ethics starts at the top. Continue reading
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
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
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