Consumers expect game-changing technology

It’s a game-changer if it has the potential to change the outcomes. We often see how new technology creates a big shift in the market.

Uber car service has been taking hold in large cities over the past few years. It’s even come to Ann Arbor. Is it a game-changer in local transportation? Looks like it. I know there is plenty of controversy right now about Uber and their business practices but you have to admit they have figured out how to leverage GPS technology and mobile devices in new ways. I experienced this first hand recently when I used an Uber to get to the airport. No question it was easy and convenient.

And that’s what consumers look for in the products and services they buy: easy, reliable, convenient, and low cost. We all love that one-click purchasing on Amazon: buy a book and it immediately downloads to our Kindle readers – a game-changer in the book business!

We, health care IT leaders, are sometimes criticized for Continue reading

Making time for reflection

“Hansei” is the Japanese word for reflection. One of my UMHS colleagues, Dr. Jack Billi, told me he’s impressed that I am writing a blog and sees it as an example of Hansei. He says as leaders we don’t take enough time to reflect. I agree.

A typical day for me is running from one meeting to the next, driving back and forth from my office to the hospital campus, and squeezing in email when and where I can. Evenings are more email and prepping for the next day’s meetings.

The practice of writing a blog has indeed caused me to be more thoughtful about a range of topics. I find myself observing things differently. I reached out to one of my industry colleagues, Anthony Guerra, Editor-in-Chief of healthsystemCIO.com, for advice when I first considered writing a blog earlier this year. He encouraged me to do so. He told me that through the practice of writing a blog I’d start looking at things differently, observing things in new ways. He was right. Continue reading

Technology, where are all the women?

I have been hesitant to talk about women’s issues here, but I’ve been encouraged to do so by many women colleagues. They tell me I have a platform, so use it!  Young women tell me that I, a female CIO, am a role model and that they want to learn from me.18Percent

I’ll be doing an opening dinner keynote talk soon at an invitation only health IT conference. I plan to talk about unlocking the potential of our future workforce. So, what does that mean? Among other steps, we need to encourage more women to pursue careers in technology.

Here are some troubling statistics and trends: Continue reading

Email overload — does anyone have the answer?

Spoiler alert! I don’t have the answer either and want to learn from others.

I remember the old days before email: we relied on talking to each other and on written communications that came on paper. On the day before a vacation I would finalize reports, make copies, Connected emailand stuff them into inter-office envelopes after I’d taken care of all my follow-up phone calls. Now on the day before vacation I have to get through all the email that can’t wait another week and generate new ones as I work through my to-do list.

It seems endless. Everyone complains about too much email. Can’t we just shut it off?  No, it’s the way we work now and there’s no going back.

Here are some of my tips:

Triage – I quickly scan for priority emails by subject, who it’s from and importance (some people actually use those flags as intended). Deal with what you have to in as timely a manner as possible. Continue reading

Culture change, slow and steady

You start in a new leadership position and you want to make changes.  Should be easy, right? After all, you’re the boss. You call the shots.Culture change

Not so.

You inherit a history and a culture, ways of working and thinking and behaving. You inherit a leadership team and a staff. You inherit a department that works within a broader organization and its culture. Still, you are the leader; you can make some changes, but it will take more time.

When I started at UMHS, there had been a 6 month gap with an internal interim CIO. She had kept things going but was happy to handoff to me. Continue reading

Networking, learning and giving back

I’m heading to the CHIME Fall Forum for a few days. Many of my health care CIO colleagues will be there. I look forward to the chance to network and learn from them in track sessions, and hear from keynote speakers. I’m even being pressed into service on a panel called “Leadership Stories Worth Telling” as there was a last minute cancellation.

I have been active in professional organizations for many years. Anyone who doesn’t take the opportunity to get involved in such organizations is limiting their own professional development and, in turn, limiting what they can offer to their employer.

I remember many years ago when I attended my first professional conference. Continue reading

Operation Baby Blanket

Operation Baby Blanket? What’s that? Is that the code name for a new software implementation?

This CIO is the grandma of Hannah, an adorable two year old; two more grandbabies are on the way.  While I’ve done various crafts in my adult life, I don’t do it enough to call it a hobby. And my crochet experience is limited. I did make a baby blanket for one of my daughters 30 years ago.

So I surprised my family two years ago when I told them that I would make a baby blanket for Hannah, and I actually did it. Now, a second grandchild is due in December. Could I make a baby blanket for her in time? Would I be able to squeeze enough time out of my evening email work session to get one done?

I needed to design and create a baby blanket in time for the baby shower.

I am happy to announce that I presented a finished crocheted baby blanket to my daughter, Katie, at the shower last weekend.

How did I meet this goal? Basic Project Management! Continue reading

Ebola and the role of an EHR

“EHR Flaw at Core of US Ebola Case”.  No CIO could ignore this October 3rd headline. As a CIO, one of our nightmares is that a problem in the systems we implement could cause a major medical error. One of our core missions in health care information technology is to prevent medical errors.

The statement blaming “EHR flaw” was retracted within 24 hours as the facts became clear. But as hospitals prepare to safely care for patients with Ebola, the role of the Electronic Health Record becomes more clear.

The EHR is a critical tool for handling any kind of infectious disease.  It is the means by which the appropriate information is captured at patient intake and is clearly accessible and visible to all caregivers. Close coordination between clinicians, operations and IT are extraordinarily critical in designing and implementing clinical systems. Continue reading

Plan for the future, manage for today

How often have you heard an IT leader say they want a position that’s “more strategic” and “less operational?”

The reality is that there is always a balance of both, depending on the level you work at in your organization. Sometimes, it’s not the balance you’d like to see.

Me too.

As the CIO, my typical day is back to back meetings. Plus, I squeeze in email and phone calls on a range of additional issues. I read and answer email well into the evening after I get home.

In the past week, I’ve reviewed presentations and read articles on health care in the future and how technology enables innovation: reflective thinking and planning.  Continue reading

Listen and learn — why I host staff breakfasts

Last November, I started the practice of hosting monthly breakfasts for up to 20 of my department staff at a time. We skipped two months around the time of our major inpatient go live in June. That means I’ve spent time with at least 160 staff getting to know them, listening to their concerns and answering questions in a small, informal setting. There’s a small group of “frequent flyers” who have come to more than one so far. I tease them that it must be the food but I know it’s them wanting to have a voice which I’m happy to listen to.  “Make your voice heard” is a theme I’ve been encouraging all year.

At the most recent breakfast, there was a lull in the conversation.  I called upon one of my frequent flyers whom I have come to know is willing to tell it like it is.  Continue reading