2 years later

With this post, I’ve reached a key milestone – 100 published posts in 2 years of blogging. I have maintained my discipline of writing a weekly post except for one or two vacation breaks and a short gap canstockphoto13207113as I migrated to a new hosting service earlier this year.

With over 650 regular subscribers and more than 52,000 views to date, my writing is reaching a wide audience. In addition, many of my blogs are re-published on various health IT online sites for an even greater reach. And I’ve been named to various social media influencer lists. Knowing that I’m having a positive impact is what keeps me finding the time to write each week.

The most read blog was “New year, next chapter“.  Many people were interested in the professional and personal transition I was making in leaving the University of Michigan Health System. I decided to go on my own offering consulting, coaching and interim management so I could live near my daughters and grandchildren. I also wanted more flexibility in my life at this stage in my career. Many colleagues have said they are watching me and hope to learn from me as they reach a similar stage in their career.

As the interim CIO at University Hospitals in Cleveland, I have had plenty of new topics to cover, similar yet different from my previous experience. In my first four months, I’ve written about IT governance, lean, innovation, customer service and project ownership. Continue reading

Happy Sesquicentennial!

Most of us won’t live to be a 100. Yet organizations that are the foundation of our communities celebrate 100 year or more anniversaries. I have been fortunate to be part of 225 and 150 year anniversaries at my canstockphoto16622580churches in Worcester, MA and Ann Arbor, MI. Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston was making plans for its 100th anniversary celebration when I left there in 2012 for the University of Michigan Health System, yet another institution with a long and rich history. And now as a member of the University Hospitals team in Cleveland, I am joining in celebrating our 150th or Sesquicentennial anniversary.

The UH history dates back to May 14th, 1866 when a single hospital in a two story wooden house was established. As noted on our new UH 150th website, “For 150 years, the people of Northeast Ohio have looked to University Hospitals as a trusted health care provider. Our roots date back to 1866, when civic leaders established a hospital in a small Cleveland home to care for the sick and disabled. From these humble beginnings, UH has grown into a multihospital system, serving 1 million people annually. The medical advancements made at UH touch lives worldwide, yet we remain true to our roots as a community health care provider.”

UH has a long history of care and caring. To continue that commitment to our community, Continue reading

Do you know your big rocks?

April is a mixed month for me. No, I’m not talking about the fact that we had snow this week. In April, I celebrate many happy milestones, including my birthday and my wedding anniversary. Andcanstockphoto25793802 now, both my daughters have April wedding anniversaries. And the blooming daffodils along the road remind me that spring is finally here. 

Yet, there is always a sad part of April for me. My father died from Hodgkin’s disease on April 23rd, just a few days before my fourth birthday. Losing a parent as a child leaves a hole in your heart and shapes who you are.

Stephen Covey has a great story about “big rocks”. If you’re not familiar with it, just google it. Our families are our big rocks and my daughters remind me of that. And as little as they are, my grandchildren are also big rocks for me.  Every time one of my daughters calls me on FaceTime and I see a cute little toddler smiling at me from my iPhone, I fall in love with them all over again. Continue reading

Being in between

My husband and I are in that in between space. We have gotten our house ready for market – making it look like a showcase, and not the house you actually live in. We’ve had the pictures taken – the wide canstockphoto8356068angle lenses they use make every room look bigger than it is. Our house is now listed; anyone can peer into our house through any of the online real estate sites. We’ve had the first open house this past weekend. I hope it is the only one; every home seller hopes for an offer within the first few days. Even better would be more than one offer and a bidding war.  That would truly be good house luck for us!

You’re supposed to “stage” your house so it looks like you don’t live there. No personal photos as though you are an orphan from nowhere. No garbage cans or recycle bins visible as though you don’t produce waste. Nothing on your closet floors so they look spacious. Nothing on your kitchen or bathroom counters as though you never cook a meal or use any products. It is as though you have already moved out.

Being “in between” for us also means staging our house for selling and moving into temporary housing in Cleveland where I am doing a temporary engagement. What will we need in Cleveland and what should we pack to eventually go on the moving truck.

Like you, we have more stuff than we need. Continue reading

A passion for health care

Doctor Talking To Senior Female Patient In Hospital Bed

I have worked in health Information Technology my entire professional career. In high school, I worked as a part-time nurse’s aide in a nursing home. In college, I worked in a hospital as a unit secretary, back before there were computers at the nurse’s station. I never wanted to be a nurse or physician,
but I am passionate about health care and what we do to improve people’s lives.  I found the path for me is through health care IT.

But I still remember some of the elderly people that I cared for back at that nursing home: Anna, who never had a visitor but was the sweetest and most grateful little old lady you’d ever find. And Hilda, who was as demanding as any but turned on the charm to make sure you liked her and met her requests.  Oscar, who was as grumpy and mean as anyone could be. And Ida, who fought us every time we tried to give her medicine; it took two people most of the time. In spite of their varying personalities and needs, we cared for all of them as best we could, with empathy and support.

My daughter used to joke when she was upset with us that she would put us in a cheap, bad nursing home far away. But for many, it’s no joke. My heart breaks for elderly people alone and without family visitors. I applaud a retired friend who has found “Meals on Wheels” to be his volunteer focus – what a wonderful way to show up for someone. I also applaud a recent retiree from the UMHS ambulatory services leadership team; I saw her in the hospital recently wearing a blue volunteer smock. She is there twice a week as a communion minister.

I remind my IT staff we are part of the extended care team – we don’t touch patients directly Continue reading

A year of blogging. . .

People often ask me, “How do you find time to write”? I have been writing this blog every week for over a year. A very senior leader in our organization who always compliments my writing told me recently, “If you can find time to write it, then I can find time to read it”. I appreciate all the comments on the posts where people share their own perspective and stories.

It is a weekly discipline. But knowing that the content is appreciated and has an impact keeps me going. Writing has also been a great method of reflection for me – Hansei as the Japanese call it.

I guess with over 450 subscribers and more than 27,000 views to date, it’s more than just my family and closest friends who are reading it – that’s all most bloggers ask for.

Regular subscribers get an email notification for each new post. Beyond that, how do I reach readers? I promote each post through the usual social media channels – Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter — each of which has its own particular audience. I also promote my posts through Next Wave Connect, a social media platform focused on health care.  I’m grateful to Anthony Guerra and Kate Gamble at HealthSystemCIO.com for re-posting most of my blog entries; my CIO colleagues who aren’t connected on social media will see them there. And now I publish some posts directly on LinkedIn at the request of one of my connections. He said it would make it easier to share with all of his connections. Continue reading

Marriage equality, it’s personal

I usually stay away from politics here, but last Friday was just too monumental.  On June 26th, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled definitively in favor of marriage equality. It’s now the law of the land, and for me, it’s personal.

Many families have secrets. Something everyone knows but nobody talks about. But that sounds so yesterday. And yes, for many it is. Yet many families still struggle with acknowledging that a loved one is gay or lesbian. Yes, family secrets – we all have them.

My family is no different. My Aunt Dorothy was born in 1914 and died in 1997 at the age of 83. She lived her entire adult life with her partner, Teal. There was never an open discussion in our family; to us, they were just “life-long friends”. Dorothy and Teal met while serving in the Women’s Army Core (WAC) during WWII, and lived together until Teal died in 1990.

Dorothy, a life-long Roman Catholic never heard a Pope say, as Pope Francis has, “who am I to judge?”

The pain of same sex couples to be accepted and respected in our society was never more evident for me than when Teal was in her final days. Dorothy had cared for her at home as long as she could, but once Teal was hospitalized, the hospital staff ignored Dorothy.

Dorothy was there all day every day and managed all of Teal’s care, but when Teal died the hospital didn’t call her. They called Teal’s nephew instead who had visited her only once or twice while there.

Dorothy walked into Teal’s room to find an empty bed.  Continue reading

Our collective interoperability journey

If you remember the CHIN (Community Health Information Network) attempts in the 1990s or the next incarnation in the mid-2000s referred to as RHIOs (Regional Health Information Exchange), you know we’ve been on this interoperability journey in health care a very long time. And it’s not over.

Creating sustainable Health Information Exchanges (HIE), not to be confused with a Health Insurance Exchange, is what we are all focused on now. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) published “Connecting Health and Care for the Nation: A Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap” for public comments earlier this year. There has been progress over the years but we still have a long ways to go.

The ability to easily access and share data with other health care providers in Michigan is critical for UMHS – we are the only provider in the state that serves patients from every county. But HIEs are important for all providers regardless of their reach.  For example, when a patient shows up at an emergency room away from their primary hospital and physician, basic information should be readily available.  This includes a patient’s current problem summary list, allergies, chronic conditions, and medications.  Having this kind of information can make a qualitative difference in their care. And knowing that a certain test or procedure has recently been done along with the results can avoid duplication, saving both time and money.

Yet, unlike other industries where basic information is easily accessible and shared, health care lags far behind. Continue reading

In a bow: HIMSS15 wrap up

The biggest HIT event of the year is over – more than 43,000 attendees, over 300 education sessions, and over 1,200 exhibitors. Say what you want about the long taxi lines at the end of the day, all in all the service provided by HIMSS, hotel and convention staff was great. Say what you want about the slow performance of the HIMSS15 mobile app, there were many other ways to find out what was happening and where you needed to be. I will say though that our UMHS users would be all over me if our systems had such slow performance – I guess for an app that has the life cycle of a 4 day conference, you can get away with it. But let’s hope for improvements next year!

I’ll leave the deep analysis on market trends, vendors, and big announcements to the professionals who write for a living. I have a day job to get back to. But I will share a few highlights and thoughts after my time in Chicago: Continue reading

If not now, when?

How often have you put off scheduling a doctor appointment or preventive test because you’re just too busy? Do you keep up your exercise routine when you’ve got a big project and key deadline looming?  Do you have someone who helps keep you honest on these basic “taking care of yourself” things?YourHealthYourChoice

Have to admit I’m not the best but I am turning it around. Learned many years ago I’m the only one who can take care of me. No one is going to come into my office and say go home, you’re working too hard.

I have a gym membership and dogs that need to be walked. And it’s gorgeous here in Ann Arbor these days so I love being outside.

But I’ve also learned
that I do best at taking care of myself when I’ve got people who keep me honest. Some ideas from my recent experience: Continue reading