STEM gift ideas for 2017

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are here. Millions will be spent in the next few days on holiday presents for kids.  A few weeks ago, I asked for STEM gift suggestions and promised I would create an updated listcanstockphoto36568604 STEM if I heard from enough of you. And I did, so I am. Here goes:

Babies and Preschoolers

Hilary Graham suggested plush microbes from ThinkGeek. Hilary and Marianne Mara both noted that author Chris Ferrie has a series of science themed board books for babies.

Another blog subscriber said they bought their 3-year-old the Fisher Price Code-a-Pillar for his birthday and that he really likes it.

Vicki Davis, from Healthcare IT Leaders, won the prize for the most suggestions and the most detail. She said she wished that she was a little girl again so she could play and learn with these amazing toys. She provided age range, costs, and where to buy each item – her complete and detailed list is in the comments on my previous post. I’ve broken it out by age groups here.

Learning Resources Gears! Gears! Gears! Super Set lets budding inventors create whatever they want with a colorful set of interchangeable gears. Children learn about complex systems and creative problem solving.

GoldieBlox has construction toy and storybook sets that feature a girl engineer character. These have been award winning products.

My daughter, Ann, with a “hint, hint” in her comment said the Classic Builder Pink Set from Baby First looks like hours of fun. The hint is for either an upcoming birthday or Christmas present for my grandkids.

Elementary School

My StarBridge Advisors colleague, David Muntz, said his wife is giving their 8-year-old granddaughter a coding camp experience. Sounds like fun to me!!

Jennifer Dennard, founder of #healthitchicks, is a leading proponent of developing women in IT. She said she will be purchasing Ozobots for her entire family. These little robots teach kids to code in creative ways. Both of her daughters use them in their respective STEM classes in elementary and middle school. Even her husband has said he’d like a few to play with! Continue reading

HIMSS Stage 7: what does it take?

This week, I participated in another HIMSS Analytics Acute Care EMRAM Stage 7 review team as the CIO reviewer. During the opening presentations by the organization’s leadership, I leaned over to theHIMSS EMRAM 2018

full-time HIMSS reviewer to say, “They are hitting it out of the ballpark”. By the end of the day, our three-person review team had indeed reached that conclusion. The full-time reviewer said, “Some organizations barely clear the bar but this one far exceeded it.”

Only 6.1% of hospitals have achieved Stage 7.  What does it take?

On review day, the review team is presented with information that includes a system overview, including governance, clinical and business intelligence, health information exchange, and plans for disaster recovery and business continuity.

The review team has been given a 17-page document that includes checklists for each major clinical area.

Several case studies are presented that demonstrate how the organization has used the system to improve clinical care.

The organization prepares for this visit for months, developing the case studies and verifying they have met every specific criterion. The full-time reviewer spends time on the phone reviewing their readiness.

Achieving Stage 7 takes teamwork throughout the organization to fully leverage all aspects of the vendor’s product. It takes engagement and passion from executives and clinicians.

The organization we were reviewing implemented their EMR according to these guiding principles: Continue reading

WANTED: STEM gift ideas for kids

November 8th was National STEM Day. A great way to raise awareness about the need for STEM education. But we need more than one day to remind us of the importance of STEM education. Especiallycanstockphoto36568604 STEM for girls. The number of women in STEM fields continues to lag men. My current favorite TV commercial is the GE one with Molly the young inventor – great inspiration! 

I’m a firm believer that you need to create an interest in science and encourage children, in particular girls, starting at a young age. There are many ways to do this. The choice of toys, games, and books is just one of them.

The holiday season and gift buying is ahead of us. In my case, it’s not just the holidays but it’s also two birthdays. I’ve been asking my daughters what to get for my soon to be 3 and 5-year-old granddaughters for their birthdays. The soon to be 3-year-old is consistent in her answer no matter who asks – a red motorized toy car so she can drive her younger brother around the yard. The soon to be 5-year-old answered a My Little Pony or Hello Kitty toy set. For Christmas last year, we bought her several months subscription to Koala Crate, an activity kit for kids age 3-4. She loved it and her parents continued the subscription.

I’m committed to finding some educational toys for them for either their birthdays or holidays so I’ll be checking out the STEM section of the local toy store again this year.

When I started writing and speaking on women in technology a few years ago, I put together a list of STEM toys for different ages. This was done with the help of one of my staff who had two young daughters and shared my passion about STEM education. I know this list needs updating and I could use your help.

So here’s my ask – take a look at my STEM for the holidays blog post from back then and send me your more current suggestions via a comment so I can share with all my readers. Think all ages from toddlers through high school. If I get enough new suggestions, I’ll create an updated list to share before the holidays. Thanks in advance for your help!!

Related posts:

STEM for the holidays

Yes you can: encouraging girls to pursue IT careers

Technology, where are all the women?

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

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