Different organizations, common IT challenges

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 canstockphoto5451287healthcare CIOs.

Some were:

  • 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

A tale of patient advocacy

We have two little dogs. Pepe is a 10 year old Shih Tzu/poodle and Coco is an 8 year old Shih Tzu /Bichon.  Pepe had been getting frailer and weaker throughout the Fall months. IMG_2946 (002) waiting at the bus stop

We thought this might be her last year with us. But her blood work in November showed that she has a thyroid problem.  She now gets a daily medication and has more energy and no longer sleeps most of the day. The name Pepe (as in peppy) is fitting her again.

She had also been losing weight and getting very thin. So, we started her on canned food. Maybe she had  a problem with the dry food she has always eaten. Or maybe Coco, who is dominant, wasn’t letting her get to the food dish. What dog or cat doesn’t love canned food??? Pepe loves it and has been gaining weight. While my husband and I are still getting used to that nasty moment when you first open the can of wet food, we do it because we love her and want her to gain weight and get strong. It’s working.

When we recently took Pepe to the vet to deal with a digestive problem, the vet found she had a broken tooth and the area around it was inflamed. She would need surgery to have it pulled. That happened this week and all is well. She is even back to eating treats that take some chewing. In hindsight, the broken tooth could have been the reason she stopped eating the dry food.

Animals can’t talk or “use their words” as we tell small children, so it’s hard to know when something is wrong. And it’s hard to know the interconnections between all these issues. Continue reading

HIMSS17 – It’s a wrap

There could be as many different wrap-ups on HIMSS17 as there were people there – over 42,000. No one sees the same vendor exhibits, hears the same presenters, or talks to the same people. There are HIMSS17 sign ver 2conferences within conferences. So here’s just one wrap-up – mine.

The first speaker I heard did a great job of scaring all the CIO’s. Kevin Mitnick, the world’s most famous hacker and security consultant, and author of several books including his most recent one, The Art of Invisibility, was the opening keynote at the CIO Forum on Sunday. His talk, “The Art of Deception: How Hackers and Con Artists Manipulate You and What You Can Do About It”, included real-time demonstrations. He drove home the point about how vulnerable we are as individuals and organizations.  I highly recommend checking out his website to learn more or get scared yourself.

Dr. B.J. Miller was the final speaker at the CIO forum. His talk, “What Really Matters at the End of Life”, was a very sobering view of palliative and hospice care yet strangely inspiring at the same time. As he said, “Spending time thinking about your time on the planet while you have time is important – don’t wait.” I highly recommend listening to his Ted Talk with this same title.

I have been asked to serve on the CHIME Education Foundation Board again so Monday morning meant a board meeting. Continue reading

Countdown to HIMSS17 – Part 3: Networking

The countdown to HISS17 is in the final days. As I wrote the past two weeks, the best way to think about your prep for HIMSS17 is in three ways – education, vendors, and networking. This post is the last in a canstockphoto6370084three-part series – focusing on networking. It has to be the last, you’ve probably finalized your schedule for education and vendors. Now, you’re thinking about what to pack at this point. For us Northerners that means pulling out some summer like clothes and shoes – I’m looking forward to that part!

Have you been to HIMSS conferences before and know tons of people in the industry? If so, networking is probably not an issue for you. Are you relatively new to HIMSS conferences and want to make a lot of new connections? If yes, then this post might be useful.

I know a few things about networking.  After all, one of my daughters’ nicknames for me is the “network queen”. Here are some tips to consider:

Scheduled receptions and meetups – There are plenty of these including an orientation for first time attendees, opening reception for all attendees, local chapter events, vendor receptions, and topic focused Continue reading

Countdown to HIMSS17 – Part 2: Vendors

The countdown to HISS17 continues. As I wrote last week, the best way to think about it is in three ways – education, vendors, and networking. This post is the second in a three-part series – focusing on vendors.canstockphoto10546354

If you already registered, you have been inundated with vendor emails and snail mail since then. The ginormous exhibit hall beckons when you get to Orlando. So how do you make the vendor aspect of HIMSS17 as productive as you can?

Here are some tips to consider based on many years of navigating the exhibit floor:

Meeting with your current vendors – I’ve talked with colleagues in the past who always start here. They schedule meetings in advance or stop by just to say hello at all their primary vendors’ booths. I never fully understood this. Maybe I was a CIO in an organization with mostly internally developed systems for too long. You can connect with your primary vendors throughout the year so do you really have to spend a lot of time with them at HIMSS? It’s up to you and your specific needs and issues. If you want to see the Continue reading

Countdown to HIMSS17 – Part 1: Education

The countdown to HIMSS17 is on. It’s less than 3 weeks and if you’re anything like me, you’ve not figured out your HIMSS schedule yet. You’re getting those emails from HIMSS and vendors about what to do. canstockphoto20735537And you’re starting to see the “HIMSS preview” type articles in your favorite publications.

As the conference website says – 5 days | 300 session | 1,200 exhibitors | 45,000 colleagues. It’s as overwhelming as it sounds.

The best way to think about it is in three ways – education, vendors, and networking. This post is the first of a three-part series – focusing on education. After all, you’re paying a hefty registration fee and travel expenses so you should get some education time in, right? It’s not just about the massive exhibit hall and seeing all your friends in the industry!

Bottom line, you need a strategy and a focus. No more getting a big thick conference book to page through in advance – it’s all online for you to peruse and develop your plan. The conference website has education organized by topics, professional roles, specialty education, and types of session.

Here are some tips as you plan your education at HIMSS17: Continue reading

Learning from the annual industry list ritual

Holiday gift lists, baking lists, family fun lists while kids are out of school and “honey do” lists while off from work…..we have personal to do lists everywhere. But as the year ends, it’s interesting to canstockphoto18647021look back on some of the industry based 2016 lists and look ahead at what to expect in 2017.

I’ve compiled some of the most interesting health care and technology lists to share as we approach this annual turn of the year. You’ve probably seen some of them already.

There are the best places to work lists where we can all learn best practices to attract and retain talent in a competitive market: Modern Healthcare’s Best Places to Work in Healthcare 2016 and Becker’s 150 Great Places to Work in Healthcare 2016. And more specific to IT, there is Healthcare IT News’ Best Hospital IT Departments 2016. Check out their profiles and possibly get some new ideas to apply in your own organizations. Continue reading

Cuban healthcare, an emphasis on prevention

You will be hearing a lot about Cuba after the death of Fidel Castro. I am certainly not an expert on Cuba, but I learned a lot about the country and its people recently on an 8-day Road Scholar tour. canstockphoto21968575And I was particularly interested in learning about their healthcare system.

“I wanted to see and experience Cuba before it drastically changes with American influence and investment”. That was the sentiment from many of our fellow travelers.

The trip was called “People and Society: Cienfuegos to Havana”. It included day trips to Trinidad and Santa Clara plus a stop at the Bay of Pigs on our way to Havana. Everywhere we went, we experienced the cultural arts first hand – music and dance from young grade school age students to seniors well into their 80’s. We heard a chamber orchestra and saw a contemporary dance show.

We heard lectures on history, politics, and religion as well as how Cuban millennials view the  future. We learned how negatively the U.S. embargo has impacted the people of Cuba. And how they want the embargo fully lifted but with future U.S. investments and development managed.

We had a chance to sit and talk for an hour with a young man who works in a telecom job in health care. I asked about electronic health records and he said they are in the process of implementing a system they have developed.

When I got home and caught up on my email, I learned that a 15-member delegation of healthcare executives visited Cuba while we were there. That delegation was led by former HHS Secretary and Governor Mike Leavitt, and included Dr. David Blumenthal, former National Coordinator at ONC and Stephen Lieber, HIMSS president and CEO. Stephen wrote an insightful blog on the experience. The delegation was a mix of vendor, consulting and provider executives who had gone to see the Cuban healthcare delivery system up close. 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

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