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

Something new every day

As an entrepreneur with my own business I am required to learn more new things than I ever imagined. That includes new software tools – and lots of them.canstockphoto14781905

Our firm uses SalesforceIQ to track prospects and clients. This tool has so much flexibility and is so easy to set up that we have found many additional ways to use it. Our virtual admin sets up the basics for us once we provide requirements; we then maintain the data. It’s so easy and intuitive that I have made changes myself that in another system would require a programmer. SalesforceIQ gets high marks from me!

We’ve been leveraging LinkedIn as a business which has meant learning about functions individuals don’t need to use. We have needed expertise from our LinkedIn support person and then our virtual admin to implement. But it’s been fun to learn what’s possible and figure out how best to leverage it.

Then there are those basic Office 365 tools. Maybe you have a love / hate relationship with them. I do at times. Sometimes, you hear the term “bloatware” for products that are so feature rich you couldn’t possibly use them all, much less figure them out.

Anyone in management knows the basics of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. But do you really know how to use all the advanced functions? Or do you turn it over to a staff person at some point to do that level of manipulating? What you think should be intuitive just isn’t much of the time. Or maybe I’m just showing my age.

But I keep at it and learn as I go. I just need to recognize when it’s diminishing returns and ask someone for help. I shoot off a note to one of my colleagues or our admin. My husband is probably happy that he can’t be my “next door office support person” for these kinds of questions; he uses all Apple products. Continue reading

HIEs matter

We have watched with sadness as Hurricane Harvey has flooded first southeast Texas and now Louisiana. We have seen the spirit of the American people at its best. Volunteers from around the countrycanstockphoto30688369 have brought their own boats to rescue residents while thousands have donated money and supplies. As of Thursday morning, there had been over 25,000 water rescues.

Hospitals are meant to operate and care for patients 24/7 through a disaster. But they too were impacted by the rising waters. I took a break mid-day yesterday to watch the news. I saw in that 15-minutes the evacuation of patients from Baptist Hospital in Beaumont, Texas after the city lost its water supply. Without clean water, the hospital had to close and transfer 190 patients.

Patients, many in wheelchairs, needing dialysis treatment were being boarded onto Black Hawk helicopters by teams of doctors and nurses. They were being handed over to military medics to be flown to a hospital in Jasper, Texas – 70 miles away.

The last step in the transfer process was a clinician giving a folded-up paper to the medic. She had stuffed it under her shirt until that point so it didn’t blow away in the wind from the helicopter propellers. We know that this critical paper handoff probably happened over and over this week as patients were transferred to other facilities.

In this age of electronic medical records (EMRs) and health information exchanges (HIEs), we hope that piece of paper is a backup document. Transfers within a health system with a common EMR should be able to rely on the system for access to critical patient information. Health systems that participate in HIEs should be able to rely on some level of data exchange and access between health systems and their disparate EMRs.

I was encouraged to see two health IT articles this week – “As Harvey Devastates Houston, HIE Leaders Move in to Help” in Healthcare Informatics, and “What’s Next for Health Information Exchanges?” in Healthcare IT News. The first article describes the power of the HIE in Texas; portals have been set up in the many shelters so clinicians can access critical health information as they care for people in need of medical attention. The second article talks about the future needs that HIEs could meet and their potential benefits as healthcare continues to evolve. Continue reading

8 tips for telehealth success

Telehealth or connected health as some call it, takes different forms depending on the provider organization and their strategy. The primary driver may be extending geographic reach by providing canstockphoto40754495telehealth services to rural areas. Or it may be largely a focus on consumer engagement.

Regardless, there are common themes for successful initiatives. Based on my experience in several healthcare systems in recent years, I offer these tips for success:

Strategy is key – The organization must first determine what the key drivers are for the initiative. Is it to extend reach or provide an easier patient experience or a combination?

Tactics and specific programs will follow – Once the strategy is clear, which specific clinical services and offerings are needed the most will become clear.

Physician leadership is needed – If the focus is on extending reach of certain clinical services, physicians are at the center and must provide overall direction. For consumer-focused services, ambulatory services or strategic planning leadership may play a more central role.

Operational issues and decisions must be considered early on – There are legal and billing factors along with workflow issues for clinicians and staff to work out before any implementation. 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

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

Walking in a nurse’s shoes

National Nurse Week begins tomorrow. I’m fresh off a 4-hour shift shadowing a nurse on a busy inpatient unit with cardiac surgery patients. I was taking part in the “Walk in My Shoes” program at Stony Brook Sue in scrubs cropped (2)Medicine where I currently serve as interim CIO.

All the executives were asked to block out 4 hours this week to shadow a nurse. I looked forward to my shift despite the other work on my desk. And as I told the nurse I shadowed, spending time on their unit was more fun than some of the problems I deal with as a CIO.

But I wasn’t there to have fun. I was there to understand what a nurse’s day is like and find ways that administration can help. And as the CIO, I wanted to understand how they use the systems we support and to find opportunities to improve them.

I donned a pair of scrubs, the universal hospital uniform and a fashion neutralizer. It’s amazing how different it feels to be on a nursing unit in scrubs compared to being a “suit” who periodically does rounds with a bunch of other “suits”. The staff seemed more willing to just tell it like it is when I encouraged them to be candid with me.

As soon as got to the unit a nurse realized I was from IT. His first thought was that I was there about a system problem that had been reported in the patient safety system. I introduced myself and my role as interim CIO. I told him that while I was there to shadow another nurse, I wanted to hear about their IT issues.  This was my “gemba” walk with a group of nurses. 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

Learn from history but look to the future

Michigan Council of Women in Technology (MCWT) and #healthITchicks are two initiatives that focus on developing women in technology. As National Women’s History Month ends, I want to profile Women around CR tabletwo leaders who are committed to developing women in IT through these groups. Leaders who inspire others.

Jennifer Dennard founded the #healthITchicks community several years ago.  I asked her why she decided to start it, and she said, “I felt that women working in healthcare technology needed a dedicated social media space where they could network, learn, advise, and ultimately harness the tremendous energy and expertise they have in a way that would be beneficial to us all.”

Lofty as that sounds, she admits it may have been shortsighted.  She believes that, the women (and men) who have joined have helped the #healthITchicks community blossom into truly a force for good. So what have they accomplished?

The network has grown to over 550 people, and the hashtag has taken on a life all its own. Her efforts have provided a springboard to the many conversations about women working in health IT and technology at large.  Continue reading

Women’s History Month, not exactly a Hallmark card event!

It is the beginning of National Women’s History Month. It has been celebrated since 1987 but has its roots in International Women’s Day (March 8th)  which started in 1911. The National Women’s History Week canstockphoto35399887 herstorywas first declared by President Jimmy Carter in 1980.

This year’s theme is “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business”. Last year’s theme was “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government”.

I doubt there are any greeting cards at the store to celebrate this month. But who needs a corny card. Women just want to be paid equally, afforded the same opportunities as men and recognized for their contributions in all aspects of life.

With the 2017 theme focused on business, you can learn more about the women being recognized this year at the National Women’s History Project.

They include:

  • Barbara Hackman Franklin, former Secretary of Commerce under President George H.W. Bush who served five presidents in various roles and led efforts to increase the number of women in government.
  • Alexis Herman, first African American to serve as Secretary of Labor and who led the effort to institute a global child labor standard. She also launched an aggressive initiative to help unemployed youth.
  • Lilly Ledbetter, equal pay activist whose long fight is reflected in the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act signed by President Obama in 2009.
  • Barbara “Dusty” Roads, flight attendants union leader who fought against the airline industry’s sexist working conditions and regulations in the 1950s and 1960s.
  • Norma Yaeger, first woman stockbroker to be permitted on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in the 1960s.

With my career focus on technology within healthcare, I want to highlight some women in technology and science I’ve learned about recently. Continue reading