Outside eyes can help

A year ago, I was asked by a University CIO to participate in an External Advisory Committee on Information Technology. At that point, I was just finishing up the interim CIO engagement at University canstockphoto47150931Hospitals and launching a new HIT advisory firm, StarBridge Advisors. I asked the CIO “why me” and considered the time commitment. I said yes.

This week I attended the second half day in-person meeting of the committee. The first was a few days before I started the interim CIO engagement at Stony Brook Medicine in March.

These commitments to other organizations take time: time to review extensive materials in advance, travel and connecting flights, and in-person meetings.

But they are a win-win.

I learn and they learn. I am impressed with this CIO and his IT leadership team as I have gotten to know them. I am impressed with the support and engagement they have been able to garner from the Chancellor and Provost. I am impressed with my colleagues on the committee – a mix of university CIOs and IT business leaders. And I’m impressed with the ambitious, multi-year roadmap to replace their financial, HR and student administration systems with a new, integrated solution.

While my IT experience is in healthcare, I have worked in academic medical centers and collaborated with university IT teams. Financial and HR systems are universal across industries. But I have not gone this deep, before, into the unique systems of the higher education sector. I’m learning that student administration systems have some of the same complexities and challenges that electronic health records have in my world.

Of course, IT implementations regardless of industry and domain have many common components. Addressing a current state that is fragmented, self-developed, and highly customized with proven, integrated vendor solutions is not new to me. The many decisions involved in data conversions and archive strategies, the establishment of robust data governance, the inclusion of change management throughout the project – these are all components that we in IT know are fundamental to success. Continue reading

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

Tyranny of the urgent

You have priority work scheduled on your calendar. You have carved out time when not in meetings to get some work done. Yet urgent issues keep finding their way to your office. Sound familiar?canstockphoto28657290

That’s the life of anyone in management, especially in large complex organizations. And it’s a challenge these days as our new Stony Brook Medicine CIO and I try to get through a three-week transition period. The outline of what I need to cover with her is four pages long. And I keep adding more items.

We are ending week two.  By next week, I should be in far fewer meetings as she handles them without me. I should be able to finish my tasks as part of the transition and organize my paper and electronic files to turn over to her. I know she doesn’t like paper, so I’ll be ruthless as I purge and give her only the most important paper files.

We’ve done our best to block out some chunks of time together to get through everything.

But when we sit down together to go over the next block of information, we often end up first dealing with the latest requests and issues. What started as a focused two-hours is suddenly half gone.

What have I learned? Continue reading

10 tips for next generation leaders

I recently had the opportunity to do a talk as part of a Women in Leadership lecture series. The title of the talk was “Yes We Can – Developing Next Generation Leaders”. I covered leadership lessons from my canstockphoto23302155many years of experience, the challenges for women in STEM, and general career advice. The group had a lot of great questions and comments from their experience, so it was a lively and interactive session.

Regardless of gender, if you are a leader or future leader, these tips may be useful to you.

Find a mentor –  You can’t do it yourself. Find someone you consider a role model and who is willing to invest some time and energy in helping you develop.

Let go and be willing to delegate – If you try to do it all yourself, you won’t develop others nor have time to do the work that allows you to grow.

Give up on perfectionism – It is the enemy of good. It wastes time and keeps you from doing other work.

Ask for feedback – Take off the blinders and ask for honest feedback from your staff, your boss, your peers, and your customers. What should you start doing, stop doing and continue doing.

Consider everything a learning opportunity – Remember that you can learn from every experience. Whether it is a new skill, knowledge or lesson on how to improve for next time. 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

HTM and IT: frenemies or collaborators?

What is a “frenemy”? According to Dictionary.com: “person or group that is friendly toward another because the relationship brings benefits, but harbors feelings of resentment or rivalry”.canstockphoto5722510

Within health care organizations, there is a lot of history between the people who support the medical devices that touch patients and those who support the information systems used by clinicians. It has not always been positive and collaborative. In fact, there are such differences in the culture of each group that they don’t always get along. Maybe they are even “frenemies” in some organizations.

In your hospital, you may know the function as Biomedical Engineering, Biomed, Clinical Engineering or Health Technology Management (HTM) as it is now called as part of elevating the profession within healthcare. Those in the field now refer to themselves as “HTMs”.

AAMI (Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation) is a standards development organization and the professional society for HTMs. AAMI is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Its mission is to advance safety in healthcare technology.

Four years ago, I was the first CIO ever to be elected to the AAMI board when AAMI leaders recognized the trend towards HTM and IT convergence and integration. I have provided the IT perspective to the AAMI board as the HTM profession continues to evolve. Continue reading

Another anniversary worth noting

canstockphoto13207113This week marks three years of blogging for me. People still ask me where I find the time and how I get ideas for topics. My answer is always the same. I make it a weekly discipline – shaping the ideas during the week, writing a near final draft on Thursday night, then finalizing and publishing it first thing Friday morning. The ideas continue to flow though I’ll be the first to admit there are some Thursday nights when I’m still looking for inspiration.

Just think how I felt the Thursday when I saw this tweet from someone I follow?

“Tomorrow is Friday and we all know what that means! No, not just Cinco de Mayo but @sgschade blog comes out! #anticipation”

No pressure I thought. Fortunately, it was the week I had shadowed a nurse and my blog topic was obvious.

By the numbers, there have been close to 75,000 total views. Who would have thought that three years ago? I remember someone asking me who I thought would read my blog besides my family and close friends. Believe me, I have a small family who doesn’t always read it and few close friends. Continue reading

Planes, trains, automobiles and ferries too!

What consultant doesn’t want to work close to home as much as possible? But you go where your clients are and you get used to traveling.

It was one of those weeks. There was the usual 2-hour drive plus the 1 hour ferry ride to my interim CIO canstockphoto21462750engagement on Long Island. Monday was the first time I worried about missing the ferry. My “wiggle room” on the drive part evaporated with bumper to bumper traffic as soon as I got on I-95 in Providence. I sweated it but I made it!

Then there was a same day trip from New York to Chicago for a CHIME Education Foundation Board retreat. It seemed like a good idea when we agreed to fly in and out the same day but reality of that can be brutal – a very long day!

And finally, there’s the commuter rail train ride into NYC to meet my husband for the holiday weekend.

I’m happy to not depend on airports for my current weekly commute compared to many who are truly “road warriors”. I feel a little spoiled. My biggest stress is whether I’ll hit traffic on I-95 and have to take a later ferry.

When I was the interim CIO at University Hospitals in Cleveland last year, it was a predictable 3.5-hour drive from Ann Arbor. A few times I ran into huge traffic jams and a long out of the way road construction detour. But it was mainly a predictable weekly commute. And productive when I could get some calls done during the drive.

Once we moved to the Providence area, it meant a weekly flight. The Providence airport has fewer direct flights. I had to choose between connecting flights which increase potential delays or the longer ground transportation to get direct flights out of Boston. I chose the latter.

Then my current engagement on Long Island came up. Driving through NYC or flying was a non-starter. It was a “go” when I learned about the ferry option. Continue reading

What to expect from your vendors

You are past the big go live. You and your team are focused on optimization, enhancements, ongoing support issues, and upgrades. So, what should you expect from your vendor in this ongoing relationship?canstockphoto10856287

I have worked with all the major EHR players and many other IT application and infrastructure vendors over the years. I have worked with three of the major EHR vendors just in the last 18 months given my interim CIO engagements.

My post “Keys to successful vendor management“ covered the importance of the product roadmap, service, total cost of ownership, reputation, contract, implementation, and escalation.

It’s time to look at the ongoing vendor relationship that clients should expect. Vendors, take note. I assume most of your clients would share this view. There’s a reason that the KLAS Research reports carry a lot of weight for CIOs, they are vendor evaluations from their peers.

Whether it is a large, proven vendor or a small start-up, here’s what you should expect: Continue reading

Lean classics worth a second look

I am a lean leader and always willing to share my learnings. I’ve written several blog posts chronicling my lean experience at different organizations. Some of them have been quite popular with readers. I’ll call them my canstockphoto19155139“lean classics”. Here’s a recap for your reference:

Huddles and Visual Management:

Leadership huddles: not just another meeting – describes my first IT leadership huddle launch back at University of Michigan Health System. As my lean coach said at the time, be willing to experiment, it doesn’t have to be perfect. We learned and tweaked it as we went through the PDCA cycle.

Making the invisible visible – describes the beginning stages of the visual board our IT leadership team created at University Hospitals in Cleveland.

Making the invisible visible – part 2 – describes that same effort several months after we launched it and how we used it as a team.

6 tips for successful huddle boards – based on experience, my advice to those considering their own huddle boards. Remember, you need to be willing to experiment.

Gemba Walks:

Importance of rounding or going to the “gemba” – describes early experience with clinical and operational rounding both at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and University of Michigan Health System. Continue reading