The other end of the highway

This morning I was looking out my window at a new 3 inches snowfall while making conference calls. Tonight, I’m driving past palm trees. This afternoon I was on I-95 driving to the Providence airport for a canstockphoto25609566 (002) highwayflight to see a new client. Tonight, I’m exiting a Florida airport in a rental car and merging onto I-95 heading south.

With google maps piped through the car rental audio, I am confident I will get to the hotel 50 minutes away. I have done all the initial lane changes and merging, so now I’ve got a 19 mile stretch before the next turn. It’s safe to call home on speed dial and chat with my husband. I do the ritual “woe is me” that my flight was delayed, the airport was busier than I expected, and there was a long wait for the car rental center shuttle. But I’m finally on the road to my hotel much later than expected and very hungry. I am aware that these all are first world problems.

We have the “I’m still on I-95 but with palm trees” conversation. When I exit I-95, it is crystal clear that I am 1,500 miles south of the I-95 I’m used to. The “lady” in the car audio is telling me to merge onto Dolphin Expressway. No road in Rhode Island is called Dolphin Expressway!

I dislike busy unfamiliar expressways, driving at night (especially with lane changes) and driving in the rain (in that order). Fortunately, this was only 2 of the 3 – it was dry, with no rain (or snow). In these situations, lane management is critical, and the navigator system can only help so much. And good signage is critical or as my daughter says, “use your eyes”.

What does this have to do with healthcare and IT? Continue reading

Merger mania – is it good for the patient?

In just the past few weeks, we saw several major healthcare merger announcements – Dignity and CHI, Advocate and Aurora, Ascension and Providence St. Joseph Health on the provider side. And then there’scanstockphoto18678854 CVS Health and Aetna – a potential disruptor in the healthcare market. And we don’t yet know what other market disruptors like Amazon or Google might do in the healthcare space.

There have been predictions in recent years that eventually there would be just 10-15 major healthcare systems in the U.S. Are we on our way to that prediction with the latest merger announcements?  The combined Advocate and Aurora system would create a 27-hospital healthcare system in Wisconsin and Illinois with projected annual revenue of $11 billion. The Dignity and CHI merger would include 139 hospitals in 28 states. If Ascension and Providence St. Joseph Health merge they would create the largest hospital chain with 191 hospitals in 27 states and annual revenue of $44.8 billion.

What is driving these mega mergers? The announcements about them talk about improved access to care, improved outcomes, lower costs, sharing best practices and overall being more prepared for success in the changing healthcare market and landscape.

Jane Sarsohn-Kahn, health economist, wrote a great piece earlier this month – “Will Getting Bigger Make Hospitals Get Better?”.  She talked about the value that matters to patients — the trust that is needed between hospitals and patients.

And what are the IT implications of these mergers? If markets don’t really overlap, what degree of system integration is needed? Is one seamless patient record needed as it is for large regional systems with a lot of patient movement between community hospitals and specialists at academic medical centers? Continue reading

Tech is king and soft skills matter

These are just two of the key findings of the recently published, “LinkedIn 2017 U.S. Emerging Jobs Report”. Not at all surprising. The report is worth checking out regardless of where you are at in your canstock 121417 tech is king and soft skills mattercareer. As I always tell people, be open to the possibilities.

The report notes the estimate that 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately hold jobs that don’t yet exist. Just think back to what your options were when you started primary school.

I know as a young girl in the 60’s, it seemed like teacher or nurse were the options. My sister did become a nurse and then went on to get a master’s degree in public health. By the time she retired a few years ago, she had run many of the state health departments in Minnesota at one time or another. I wanted to be a math teacher when I was young. Instead I found my path to computer programming in the early 80’s when the field was starting to really explode. Here I am today having served several healthcare organizations as their Chief Information Officer before starting a health IT advisory firm.

Back to the “tech is king” finding. The report says that the top emerging jobs are machine learning engineer, data scientist, and big data engineers in a wide range of industries.  It also notes that there are currently 1,600 open roles for machine learning engineer in the U.S.

The report also found that there is a low supply of talent for top jobs. For example, data scientist roles have grown over 650% in the past 5 years but only 35,000 people in the U.S. currently have data science skills. Any CIO looking to build out the analytics capability for their organization is probably all too aware of this gap. Continue reading

STEM gift ideas for 2017

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are here. Millions will be spent in the next few days on holiday presents for kids.  A few weeks ago, I asked for STEM gift suggestions and promised I would create an updated listcanstockphoto36568604 STEM if I heard from enough of you. And I did, so I am. Here goes:

Babies and Preschoolers

Hilary Graham suggested plush microbes from ThinkGeek. Hilary and Marianne Mara both noted that author Chris Ferrie has a series of science themed board books for babies.

Another blog subscriber said they bought their 3-year-old the Fisher Price Code-a-Pillar for his birthday and that he really likes it.

Vicki Davis, from Healthcare IT Leaders, won the prize for the most suggestions and the most detail. She said she wished that she was a little girl again so she could play and learn with these amazing toys. She provided age range, costs, and where to buy each item – her complete and detailed list is in the comments on my previous post. I’ve broken it out by age groups here.

Learning Resources Gears! Gears! Gears! Super Set lets budding inventors create whatever they want with a colorful set of interchangeable gears. Children learn about complex systems and creative problem solving.

GoldieBlox has construction toy and storybook sets that feature a girl engineer character. These have been award winning products.

My daughter, Ann, with a “hint, hint” in her comment said the Classic Builder Pink Set from Baby First looks like hours of fun. The hint is for either an upcoming birthday or Christmas present for my grandkids.

Elementary School

My StarBridge Advisors colleague, David Muntz, said his wife is giving their 8-year-old granddaughter a coding camp experience. Sounds like fun to me!!

Jennifer Dennard, founder of #healthitchicks, is a leading proponent of developing women in IT. She said she will be purchasing Ozobots for her entire family. These little robots teach kids to code in creative ways. Both of her daughters use them in their respective STEM classes in elementary and middle school. Even her husband has said he’d like a few to play with! Continue reading

HIMSS Stage 7: what does it take?

This week, I participated in another HIMSS Analytics Acute Care EMRAM Stage 7 review team as the CIO reviewer. During the opening presentations by the organization’s leadership, I leaned over to theHIMSS EMRAM 2018

full-time HIMSS reviewer to say, “They are hitting it out of the ballpark”. By the end of the day, our three-person review team had indeed reached that conclusion. The full-time reviewer said, “Some organizations barely clear the bar but this one far exceeded it.”

Only 6.1% of hospitals have achieved Stage 7.  What does it take?

On review day, the review team is presented with information that includes a system overview, including governance, clinical and business intelligence, health information exchange, and plans for disaster recovery and business continuity.

The review team has been given a 17-page document that includes checklists for each major clinical area.

Several case studies are presented that demonstrate how the organization has used the system to improve clinical care.

The organization prepares for this visit for months, developing the case studies and verifying they have met every specific criterion. The full-time reviewer spends time on the phone reviewing their readiness.

Achieving Stage 7 takes teamwork throughout the organization to fully leverage all aspects of the vendor’s product. It takes engagement and passion from executives and clinicians.

The organization we were reviewing implemented their EMR according to these guiding principles: Continue reading

WANTED: STEM gift ideas for kids

November 8th was National STEM Day. A great way to raise awareness about the need for STEM education. But we need more than one day to remind us of the importance of STEM education. Especiallycanstockphoto36568604 STEM for girls. The number of women in STEM fields continues to lag men. My current favorite TV commercial is the GE one with Molly the young inventor – great inspiration! 

I’m a firm believer that you need to create an interest in science and encourage children, in particular girls, starting at a young age. There are many ways to do this. The choice of toys, games, and books is just one of them.

The holiday season and gift buying is ahead of us. In my case, it’s not just the holidays but it’s also two birthdays. I’ve been asking my daughters what to get for my soon to be 3 and 5-year-old granddaughters for their birthdays. The soon to be 3-year-old is consistent in her answer no matter who asks – a red motorized toy car so she can drive her younger brother around the yard. The soon to be 5-year-old answered a My Little Pony or Hello Kitty toy set. For Christmas last year, we bought her several months subscription to Koala Crate, an activity kit for kids age 3-4. She loved it and her parents continued the subscription.

I’m committed to finding some educational toys for them for either their birthdays or holidays so I’ll be checking out the STEM section of the local toy store again this year.

When I started writing and speaking on women in technology a few years ago, I put together a list of STEM toys for different ages. This was done with the help of one of my staff who had two young daughters and shared my passion about STEM education. I know this list needs updating and I could use your help.

So here’s my ask – take a look at my STEM for the holidays blog post from back then and send me your more current suggestions via a comment so I can share with all my readers. Think all ages from toddlers through high school. If I get enough new suggestions, I’ll create an updated list to share before the holidays. Thanks in advance for your help!!

Related posts:

STEM for the holidays

Yes you can: encouraging girls to pursue IT careers

Technology, where are all the women?

Working remote: self-sufficiency required, collaboration a plus

I woke up Monday morning after a sleepless night with a text from my daughter, Ann, “do you have power?”. Only 10 miles from our house, her neighborhood had lost power and Internet access due to the Lunch Learn Graphicstorm while we were up-and-running. Ann works from home as Communications Manager for a national company, and was not interested in wasting a sick day sitting in the dark. So after dropping my granddaughters off at daycare, she set up shop in our dining room.

Except for being limited to just her laptop and not the two large extension monitors in her home office, she was ready for a productive day. A year ago, I would have thought she was crazy for needing two monitors, but she convinced me to get a second. There’s nothing like it for multi-tasking and having multiple windows open when you are working on a project.

We respected each other’s space and work. We had minimal conversation when I went to the kitchen for coffee. But in our two brief morning interactions, we casually discussed the common challenges of remote workers – one being the isolation. And I got some new ideas from her.

Half the dining room table was covered in my receipts as I was working on expense reports. I used to just hand the task over to my executive assistant, but in my new life, I do them myself. I dislike the task so much that I get way behind. Monday was the day to catch up. Continue reading

Something new every day

As an entrepreneur with my own business I am required to learn more new things than I ever imagined. That includes new software tools – and lots of them.canstockphoto14781905

Our firm uses SalesforceIQ to track prospects and clients. This tool has so much flexibility and is so easy to set up that we have found many additional ways to use it. Our virtual admin sets up the basics for us once we provide requirements; we then maintain the data. It’s so easy and intuitive that I have made changes myself that in another system would require a programmer. SalesforceIQ gets high marks from me!

We’ve been leveraging LinkedIn as a business which has meant learning about functions individuals don’t need to use. We have needed expertise from our LinkedIn support person and then our virtual admin to implement. But it’s been fun to learn what’s possible and figure out how best to leverage it.

Then there are those basic Office 365 tools. Maybe you have a love / hate relationship with them. I do at times. Sometimes, you hear the term “bloatware” for products that are so feature rich you couldn’t possibly use them all, much less figure them out.

Anyone in management knows the basics of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. But do you really know how to use all the advanced functions? Or do you turn it over to a staff person at some point to do that level of manipulating? What you think should be intuitive just isn’t much of the time. Or maybe I’m just showing my age.

But I keep at it and learn as I go. I just need to recognize when it’s diminishing returns and ask someone for help. I shoot off a note to one of my colleagues or our admin. My husband is probably happy that he can’t be my “next door office support person” for these kinds of questions; he uses all Apple products. Continue reading

HIEs matter

We have watched with sadness as Hurricane Harvey has flooded first southeast Texas and now Louisiana. We have seen the spirit of the American people at its best. Volunteers from around the countrycanstockphoto30688369 have brought their own boats to rescue residents while thousands have donated money and supplies. As of Thursday morning, there had been over 25,000 water rescues.

Hospitals are meant to operate and care for patients 24/7 through a disaster. But they too were impacted by the rising waters. I took a break mid-day yesterday to watch the news. I saw in that 15-minutes the evacuation of patients from Baptist Hospital in Beaumont, Texas after the city lost its water supply. Without clean water, the hospital had to close and transfer 190 patients.

Patients, many in wheelchairs, needing dialysis treatment were being boarded onto Black Hawk helicopters by teams of doctors and nurses. They were being handed over to military medics to be flown to a hospital in Jasper, Texas – 70 miles away.

The last step in the transfer process was a clinician giving a folded-up paper to the medic. She had stuffed it under her shirt until that point so it didn’t blow away in the wind from the helicopter propellers. We know that this critical paper handoff probably happened over and over this week as patients were transferred to other facilities.

In this age of electronic medical records (EMRs) and health information exchanges (HIEs), we hope that piece of paper is a backup document. Transfers within a health system with a common EMR should be able to rely on the system for access to critical patient information. Health systems that participate in HIEs should be able to rely on some level of data exchange and access between health systems and their disparate EMRs.

I was encouraged to see two health IT articles this week – “As Harvey Devastates Houston, HIE Leaders Move in to Help” in Healthcare Informatics, and “What’s Next for Health Information Exchanges?” in Healthcare IT News. The first article describes the power of the HIE in Texas; portals have been set up in the many shelters so clinicians can access critical health information as they care for people in need of medical attention. The second article talks about the future needs that HIEs could meet and their potential benefits as healthcare continues to evolve. Continue reading

8 tips for telehealth success

Telehealth or connected health as some call it, takes different forms depending on the provider organization and their strategy. The primary driver may be extending geographic reach by providing canstockphoto40754495telehealth services to rural areas. Or it may be largely a focus on consumer engagement.

Regardless, there are common themes for successful initiatives. Based on my experience in several healthcare systems in recent years, I offer these tips for success:

Strategy is key – The organization must first determine what the key drivers are for the initiative. Is it to extend reach or provide an easier patient experience or a combination?

Tactics and specific programs will follow – Once the strategy is clear, which specific clinical services and offerings are needed the most will become clear.

Physician leadership is needed – If the focus is on extending reach of certain clinical services, physicians are at the center and must provide overall direction. For consumer-focused services, ambulatory services or strategic planning leadership may play a more central role.

Operational issues and decisions must be considered early on – There are legal and billing factors along with workflow issues for clinicians and staff to work out before any implementation. Continue reading