In the past four days, I’ve learned about and interacted with ten different healthcare systems. Some are current consulting and coaching clients while others are prospective clients. Their needs for services range from interim management to leadership development to small, discrete consulting projects.
Their challenges and needs are unique, but not necessarily new to me. After 30+ years in healthcare IT, I “know a lot because I have seen a lot” as the insurance company advertises. But if I am going to be effective in meeting each client organization’s needs, I need to get to know each client organization, the players and the culture.
I enjoy the day to day work of an interim CIO engagement like my recent one at Stony Brook Medicine. It’s very rewarding to be part of a larger team making a difference for patients. But interacting with many different organizations around the country and helping them solve problems is an entirely different kind of challenge. It is fun and rewarding in its own way.
On that first call with a prospective client, you need to establish your credibility and determine if your services are a match to their needs. Listening skills are critical – when talking to a prospective client and once you get the work. You need to go deep to understand their unique issues. And at the same time, you need to apply your experience and knowledge from other organizations.
Five new leads for StarBridge Advisors have come my way this week. I’m chasing them all. Once I understand the unique need, I’ll match one of our advisors and prepare a proposal for the client.
This level of client activity requires good administration, organization, and tools. We have the tools and continue to refine our processes. We’re trying to fully leverage SalesforceIQ and use it consistently as a firm. Leveraging our tools and creating repeatable processes is all part of the work this first year in business. Continue reading
This is not about a fabulous vacation on some distant island.
This is another version of “adventures in a new city”. That’s what my husband and I have called my interim CIO engagements.
This time “our adventure in a new city” was on Long Island. It was more my adventure than my interim in Cleveland last year; my husband spent more time with me there. We did have two weekends together on Long Island: one in the Big Apple and one to enjoy the island in the summer.
The weekend in NYC was what you’d expect – great restaurants, museums, the subway and a lot of walking. On Long Island, we visited the wineries on the north fork and went to the beach on the south shore. We got more ideas for our garden after a walking tour of gardens and landscapes in Port Jefferson. It made me want to spend more time here and, who knows, with a ferry between New London, Connecticut and Orient, New York, we just may do that.
The island is 118 miles long – the longest and largest island in the contiguous United States. Suffolk County makes up the eastern 2/3 of the island. I learned the history of Long Island’s growth and eastward expansion over the past 50 years and how Stony Brook Medicine fits into that growth, providing quaternary and tertiary care to Suffolk County. Continue reading
It’s that time again. Time to close out my current interim CIO engagement and transition to the new CIO. I’m delighted to share the news that Stony Brook Medicine has hired Kathy Ross as their next CIO. She starts July 24th and we will have a few weeks together to complete the transition.
Kathy brings extensive healthcare CIO experience having served for many years as a CIO within Ascension Health. She is no stranger to Cerner, our core EMR vendor. But walking into a new environment with all its complexities and uniqueness is a challenge for the most seasoned leader.
We can only have one CIO at a time so day one, it will be Kathy. I will work out of a temporary space nearby. My focus and role will be to support her and provide as much background information as I can to ensure she gets up to speed quickly.
While I have only been serving as interim CIO since early March, my plan for what I need to fill her in on is long and growing. It includes a review of where we’re at on my focus areas during this interim. We’ll block time to review together key background information and issues needing attention. And we’ll do meetings together with everyone on the IT leadership team as part of the handoff.
I learned at my last interim to block out chunks of time to review everything on the transition outline and not let the usual day to day meetings fill all available time. Continue reading
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 healthcare CIOs.
- 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 month ago, I started a new interim CIO engagement. This time I am serving Stony Brook Medicine on Long Island in New York. My last interim CIO position at University Hospitals in Cleveland ended in October. Since then, I have taken a break by design. When I started this new chapter, I wanted to work less than full time over the course of the year and have more flexibility in my life.
During this “break” period I wasn’t exactly idle though. I spent a lot of time doing start-up work for my new health IT advisory firm, StarBridge Advisors. And of course, I’ve spent plenty of time with my family, especially my four grandkids. My husband of 40+ years and I have had fun seeing each other so much but if you ask him, he’d say he was ready for me to be gone several days a week! He loves his quiet time and having the house to himself for a while.
This opportunity at Stony Brook Medicine brings a new set of challenges, but also many familiar ones I’ve seen before as a veteran healthcare CIO. Continue reading
Remember those first few days on a new job? You were officially onboarded, and signed a lot of forms. You learned all the basic processes and policies that new employees need to know. And you got the big picture of the organization’s mission, vision, values and culture. Your head is spinning by the end of day one and even week one, but everyone is patient with you. They recognize that it is a lot to take in.
In that early period when you are introduced to lots of people, everyone is so happy to see you. Everyone is offering to help you get up to speed, and do whatever they can to make your onboarding smooth.
And then you realize they all need something from you. They all think you can solve all the problems. But you are still given some time before you start waving your magic wand.
You’re on a honeymoon. It will be measured in days or weeks but usually not months. You must drink from the firehose, get to know all the key people and start adding value. “Proving yourself,” as they say.
You may have relocated, so you’re also getting to know your new town.
It can be exhilarating and overwhelming all at the same time. Continue reading
Transitions of leadership are going on all the time in our organizations: a new CEO, a new VP, or new management at another level; it is change.
As I’ve written about, I just completed such a transition. I have served as an interim CIO for 8 plus months. The agreement for the engagement was that I’d stay through the successful transition to the new CIO. We envisioned a 30 day overlap.
As the start date for the new CIO approached, 30 days seemed very long. Wouldn’t the new CIO want to get in and get started without me around? But as she and I started planning that time, 30 days seemed reasonable for all that we needed to do. When it came time to start the transition, there was so much else going on each day we found it hard to find the time to focus on the transition work. In the end, we both agreed 30 days was the right amount of time and extremely helpful to her.
But a 30-day overlap and transition period can be a luxury. Organizations often go through leadership transitions with far less time or even no time for the old and new leaders to work together. When I took the interim engagement, I had an hour conversation with the previous CIO on his second to last day; that was it. Continue reading
Are you in your first CIO position? Have you just been promoted by executives at your organization who see what you are capable of? Or have you been tapped by another organization to step into your first ever CIO role? Or maybe find yourself serving as the internal interim CIO during the search for a permanent CIO.
In any of these scenarios you may wonder where to turn for help and advice. Every day there will be situations that you do not feel fully prepared for.
If you’re fortunate, you have already attended the CHIME CIO Boot Camp. It’s a three-and-a-half-day immersion into the breadth of what a CIO needs to know taught by experienced CIOs. Over 1,400 CIOs and future CIOs have graduated from the program over the past 13 years. If you haven’t yet attended, you should consider it.
If your organization has memberships with health care focused services such as Advisory Board, or broader research services like Gartner, be sure to take advantage of those resources. And make them available to your entire IT leadership team.
Be a sponge. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Find people who are ahead of you and can share their experience. Continue reading
It’s rare that a CIO gets to watch another CIO at work. Yes, we all network regularly at CHIME and other conferences. We learn from each other on topical webinars. And we pick each other’s brains on phone calls about something that is new for us and our organization.
But to see someone working day to day with the executives, their peers and their own leadership team is different: how they set expectations and deliver tough messages; how they make commitments with appropriate caveats; how they answer questions if they don’t have enough information yet.
I’ve been fortunate to watch our new CIO, Joy Grosser, at University Hospitals, at work. I’ve stepped back since she became CIO and serve as an advisor to her during the transition. We look for pockets of time to do transition and turnover.
During these few weeks of transition, we’ve had some production issues and vendor challenges. We are developing next year’s budget. We are finalizing a plan for new hospital integration with the help of a consulting firm. These are big initiatives to walk into, to learn quickly what you need to know, and to lead with authority and confidence.
But that’s what leaders do. They listen and learn. They share their values and vision. They don’t pretend to know or have all the answers. They rely on their team to keep them informed and to solve problems. And at the end of the day they own it. Continue reading
A year ago, I suggested to my husband that I would consider doing a series of interim CIO engagements. He is a retired minister and does a lot of volunteer projects for the denomination and ministers association – all from his home office. So he was supportive. His view was we’ll just have an adventure in a new city. We’d bring the dogs with, stay in an apartment and go home to check on our house once a month. That was a great working assumption.
The first interim opportunity was at University Hospitals in Cleveland, which was a great location to start this plan! It’s just a short 3-hour drive from our home in Ann Arbor. But then we relocated from Michigan to Rhode Island in order to be near family so things didn’t work out quite as we planned. There was way too much work in Michigan to sell and move out of our house; on the other end way too much work to find a house and move into it. So I’ve spent many weeks in Cleveland on my own without my soulmate to have those new city adventures with.
But in the past 8 months, we got to know Cleveland as best we could and it’s truly been a fun adventure! Some of the highlights to pass on to our new CIO who has relocated to Cleveland from Iowa and anyone planning to visit: Continue reading