One year anniversary, how are we doing?

For the first birthdays of my four grandkids, there have been party hats and “smash” cakes. But what does a small team of entrepreneurs do on the first anniversary of founding their firm? They take stock and plan canstockphoto48088945for year two.

David Muntz, Russ Rudish and I launched StarBridge Advisors in October of 2016. So how does a health IT advisory firm measure success after year one?

Number of clients – We have already assisted 12 healthcare provider organizations with some repeat engagements and have national reach.

Revenue – Any first-year projections can be a crapshoot but you need to start somewhere. We may have been overly optimistic but we are well on our way with our client base and pipeline.

Size of our team – In addition to our three principals, we now have almost 20 advisors on our team available for interim management, leadership support and consulting. Their IT leadership experience includes serving as CIO, CTO, CISO, CMIO or CNIO in healthcare organizations.

Channel partners – We work closely with several larger consulting firms who offer services that we don’t. We partner with Healthcare IT Leaders, a leading staffing firm and Rudish Executive Search, which specializes in healthcare.  And we are working with a few start-up technology vendors who are bringing to market new and novel solutions for healthcare providers.

Referrals – Our principals combined have over 90 years of experience in the healthcare industry. Our relationships are a key component of growing a new business and getting known in the market.

Name and brand recognition – A year ago we had decided on a name and incorporated, but had yet to figure out our branding. That was some fun work at first; by January we launched our website and social media presence. Continue reading

From One to Many

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 canstockphoto1878305range 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

Island adventures

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.Sunset on LI

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

Passing the baton again

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 canstockphoto13851442starts 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

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

Next chapter, another page

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

When does the honeymoon end?

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 canstockphoto31122040 onboardinggot 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

Ensuring smooth leadership transitions

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 canstockphoto33589643months. 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

New leader? You’re not alone

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 yourcanstockphoto12535181 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

Learning from leaders

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 canstockphoto13851442phone 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