Interim management is different

I am wrapping up week 3 as the interim CIO at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio and I’m drinking from the fire hose. I have to learn a new organization, a new team, a new set of projects and priorities, canstockphoto3961050 (1)and a new set of tools. This much change takes patience – first with myself. I realize I can’t learn it all in one day or one week.

The good news is that there are many common themes and issues between health care organizations. With so many years of experience in health IT and leadership roles, I can jump right in. Imagine trying to learn this industry for the first time at this level!

I meet with other executives for the first time in “meet and greet” sessions. I want to get to know them and understand what they need from IT.  So, I’m asking each of them 4 key questions:

  1. What’s working well?
  2. What’s working not so well?
  3. Considering I’m interim, how can I have the greatest impact?
  4. What are the key requirements for the next CIO?

I’ve asked all of my management team in IT to consider these same questions. More good news, Continue reading

Transformative Values

 

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

New year, next chapter

You need to own your own career and be open to the possibilities – this is the advice I have often given others over the years. It applies whether you are early, mid or late career.

I announced my resignation as CIO at the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers this week. As you can tell from my profile, with 30 plus years in HIT management, I’m neither early nor mid-career.

I have considered for some time what I want my next chapter to be, in both my professional and personal life. I want to live close to my daughters and grandchildren in New England so I can spend more time with them. I want more flexibility in my work with the potential to work less than full-time over the course of a year, and I want to do work I really enjoy.

I’ve decided that this means a mix of consulting, coaching, and interim management work. The first opportunity to start a new chapter has presented itself so I’ve decided it’s time to make the change. Continue reading

The journey continues

What better time than year end to reflect on our collective progress as an IT team. You will see a lot of “top 10” type stories in December – top trends, breakthroughs, stories, and even top predictions for the coming year. I’ll leave those to people with far more time to research and write. What I’d like to share is the progress my incredible IT team has made in partnership with our many internal customers at UMHS in 2015. These are common journeys for health care CIOs around the country. Continue reading

Tis the season to give back

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.

Continue reading

Build bridges, not walls

As we gather with family and friends this Thanksgiving, let us be mindful of the global society we now live in. It is a difficult time for political discourse, let alone the kind of rowdy yet friendly debates that can erupt at Thanksgiving tables with people we know well and love.

The current political climate in this country is fraught with tension. The 2016 presidential campaign dominates many news stories with more and more outrageous statements and declarations by candidates. We hear that many want to close our borders. We see the Syrian refugees seeking a new home and a safer life as they flee the war in their homeland. We grieve with the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks. And we watch with horror the continued instances of police brutality in our own cities and wonder why people have a problem with the statement “Black Lives Matter”.  As I write this, I am following closely the story of white supremacists shooting protestors in my home town of Minneapolis. And on university campuses such as University of Missouri, Yale and Harvard where students seek to learn, there is racial strife that threatens to splinter them.

We sang a new hymn at church this past Sunday that really struck home for me. “Our World is One World” by Cecily Taylor included this verse:

Our world is one world, the thoughts we think affect us all. The way we build our attitudes, with love or hate, we make a bridge or wall.

When I participate in our IT department meetings and events I am reminded how wonderfully diverse we are. Continue reading

And the winner is. . .

 

I had my Academy Awards host moment this week at our IT department all staff meeting. It was great fun! Our Medical Center Information Technology (MCIT) department is over 600 people strong and we gather together twice a year. We present the annual employee awards at our fall meeting.

The STAR and Golden Mouse Awards are staff-to-staff awards – that means all nominations are submitted by fellow staff members.  Nominations are reviewed and the winners are selected by members of the MCIT Appreciation and Recognition Team (ART).

The ART team was established to help MCIT develop and sustain a culture where contributions are recognized and accomplishments are celebrated. We are building an environment which recognizes MCIT staff who make a difference and ensures that their contributions are valued. We are creating a culture where employees are valued through events, programs, communications and awards. We measure success by increased employee engagement scores in the areas of appreciation and recognition. Continue reading

Power of Collaboration

It was a long but productive 24 hours. A team of us from the health system flew to Durham, NC, on Tuesday evening, spent a 10 hour day on Wednesday at Duke Medicine, and then flew home. It was a site visit aimed toward learning from each other and determining opportunities for collaboration.

UMHS and Duke have similar profiles: our overall size, IT infrastructure and core applications. We are in similar places on our EHR journey with Epic. And we are both very focused on analytics – the impetus for our visit.

Duke’s CIO, Dr. Jeff Ferranti, and I know each other; we thought the proposal for a visit was a great idea. Our Chief Medical Information Officer, Dr. Andrew Rosenberg, and Duke’s Chief Health Information Officer, Dr. Eric Poon, planned and organized the day’s agenda.  We let Andrew and Eric run with it and they did a terrific job!

Two important clinical leaders joined our Michigan team of several senior IT leaders — Dr. Jeff Desmond, our Chief Medical Officer, and Dr. Steve Bernstein, Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs. We needed them there as we talked broadly about analytics and support for population health. Continue reading

October is Quality Month!

Each year UMHS celebrates Quality Month and this year is no exception. Last week as part of our Lean Thinker’s Series, Dr. Richard Shannon, EVP Health Affairs, University of Virginia Health System, gave an excellent talk titled “Patient Safety and Quality: The New Currency in Academic Health Centers”.

It was good to hear how another academic medical center is approaching similar challenges and applying lean. Some of my takeaways from his talk and the lunch discussion that followed:

  • Dr. Shannon described their Be Safe initiative – “Our Be Safe initiative is advancing our status as a high performing organization by systematically applying the scientific method (Lean Principles) to improve the safety of our patients and workforce through real time problem solving.” He shared examples of how they have reduced the incidence of hospital acquired infections, a problem for all hospitals.
  • Senior executives hold a “situation room” and digital report out each morning. They spend 15 minutes reviewing critical problems that have been reported and then spend the next 45 minutes actually going to the units to understand the specific problems more deeply. And they do it on Saturdays as well.
  • Their IT team plays a central role in providing data and reporting in support of their daily management system. They have developed the “Be Safe” reporting system. It is a common platform that supports daily manual entry from any employee and takes automated updates from other feeder systems. He emphasized the importance of having actionable data. All of their A3s are done online and uploaded to a library that can be queried. Patient safety events are documented with an online form as part of the system. I plan to reach out to their CIO, Rick Skinner, who has shared some of their lean stories with me in the past. Having heard Dr. Shannon’s talk, it’s time to get a much better understanding of their system.

Continue reading

Fall, football and fleece

Last Saturday was a wake-up call that Fall is fast approaching. With morning temps under 50, it was fleece time. It was also the first home football game for the University of Michigan under new coach Jim Harbaugh. Blue and maize was everywhere I went in Ann Arbor. Our new coach and football team delivered a resounding victory in the first home game to everyone’s delight. But this isn’t about football or fleece, it’s about adapting to change – something we are expected to do often.

Yes, I donned a fleece when I ran errands and walked the dogs but I didn’t fully adapt – I still wore my sandals. I will only make that adaptation when I have to. I figure I can hold out for a few more weeks at least.

Season changes are to be expected and there’s no use fighting them. For us Northerners, yes, that means cold and snow as well in another few months. But there are many changes that we can’t anticipate, even some that seem to smack us upside the head. There are changes we choose, often after much thought and deliberation. And there are the ones we don’t choose or have no control over. But we eventually learn to embrace or at least live with them.

In our work lives there are always new processes and tools to learn and adjust to. Continue reading