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

Family support systems: priceless

I am regularly reminded how much young working couples with children need family support systems. Even with the new more flexible work arrangements and the ability to work from home occasionally or on canstockphoto43984614a permanent basis, working parents need help from time to time.

We have four young working parents in our family. They balance the demands of their jobs and raising young children. That’s my two daughters and our sons-in-law or as my husband called them on Father’s Day, “active duty dads”. And he of course is an “active duty grandpa” when needed.

My oldest daughter is a nurse practitioner who works three 12 hour shifts a week and a fourth shift one week a month. She has an hour plus drive each way to the hospital. She leaves the house before her 1-year-old and 2-year-old children are awake. She gets home in time for bath and bedtime stories.

On the days she works, my son-in-law gets the children up, dressed, fed and off to the day care center. He is a senior loan officer at a mortgage company with an office in downtown Boston. He takes the train in and out and works from home a few days a week. Continue reading

Take time to reboot

It’s that time of year. Maybe you just did a spring break trip with your kids or you are planning your summer getaway. Whatever it may be, you need to take time to reboot. Aruba sunset

Leave the job behind and leave good people in charge and covering for you. Companies give vacation and PTO time for just that – Personal. Time. Off.

Over the years, I have gotten better at checking out and turning it off. I learned my lesson the hard way on a vacation many years ago with my family. It was ruined by being totally available for problems that arose back at work. I spent most of my time either on the phone or worrying about what was going on. Turns out, it wasn’t even concrete problems that needed to be addressed; it was just work politics.

I’ve shared my thoughts on the importance of taking time off openly so others don’t have to learn the hard way like I did. And I encourage my staff to take their vacation time and check out while away.

As it is, the days leading up to a vacation and the days following are tough enough. There’s everything you think you need to get done that just can’t wait a week or two on the front end. And then thinking you are a super human who can get through all their email for a week or two on the first day back. For those of you who can, is that badge of honor worth it? Continue reading

Yes we can: women in health IT

Think about the little girls you know. Did they get even more dolls for holiday gifts? Or did they get toys and games that teach creative thinking and how to build things? Or did they maybe even get toys officiallycanstockphoto36568604 STEM labeled in the STEM category?

Social norms start young. I recently played a match game with my two-year-old granddaughter. When we matched the truck picture, she took it over to her 6-month-old baby brother as though it was his domain! This granddaughter and her two-year-old girl cousin have a variety of developmental toys. But when it’s free play, they are often clutching one of their dolls, whether it’s Princess Sofia the First or the newest Disney Princess Elena of Avalor. At least these characters are both confident, strong and compassionate princesses!

My four-year-old granddaughter isn’t as attached to dolls these days. After a break, she is back in dance class, my birthday gift to her. I know she loves it.  At Christmas, with her mother’s advice, I gave her 3 months of Koala Crate – a creative, educational activity box for 3-5 year olds. She loved the first box – making stuffed reptiles and learning about them.

You may be saying it’s all about exposing kids to a lot of different things. I agree. But it’s important to not fall into the gender norms when they are young.

Let’s fast forward from my 3 little granddaughters to some of the female leaders in our health IT industry. Continue reading

Taking control of your life

It was a year ago that I did just that. I decided it was time to make a major life change professionally and personally. Since then, many people have wanted to learn how I did it. In fact, I spoke just this canstockphoto12123429week with a former mentee about her next professional move.

My advice was basic. Look at your last few professional moves. Why did you want to stay somewhere and why were you willing to leave? What were you looking for in the next opportunity? And what isn’t there today that you’d look for in the next opportunity.

I told her if she looks carefully at this, she’ll see a theme as to what makes her happy and what frustrates her. Then there will be more questions:

  • What kind of work do you want to do?
  • What kind of team do you want to be part of?
  • What mission will keep you committed and passionate?

But I told her not to get caught in the “grass is greener” trap. Because it’s not. Every organization has its crazy. You just need to figure out what that is and how to work effectively within it. Continue reading

It’s launch time

“You need to own your own career and to be open to the possibilities. It applies whether you are early, mid or late career.”

That was my opening statement in my early January blog, “New year, next chapter”, when I announced that I was leaving a permanent CIO position to pursue a new path. And it is advice I have often given others.canstockphoto27201758

It’s now my time for that next possibility and I’m excited about it. I’ve decided to launch a new health care IT advisory firm, StarBridge Advisors, with two colleagues. I’m teaming up with David Muntz and Russ Rudish.

David is a nationally recognized CIO who has served some of the largest and most complex health care provider organizations in the country including Baylor Health Care System and Texas Health Resources.  Prior to that he served as CIO and was promoted to CEO of Wadley Institutes of Molecular Medicine.  David also served as White House-appointed first Principal Deputy National Coordinator, Chief of Staff, and CIO at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Together David and I have a combined 60+ years of experience in health IT management.

Russ was the Global & US Health Care Leader for Deloitte through 2014. Prior to joining Deloitte, he was Executive Vice President of Eclipsys Corporation, overseeing all client facing activities — sales, marketing, product management, customer support, outsourcing and professional services. Upon leaving Deloitte, Russ formed Rudish Health Solutions, which focuses on strategy and M&A consulting, interim management and executive search. He also became a Principal in Health Care IT Leaders, which provides staff augmentation services.

StarBridge Advisors will provide world class IT leadership advisory and interim management services to healthcare organizations. We want to be a trusted advisor on leadership matters in the HIT marketplace and to help clients innovate, transform, lead, and make a positive impact on healthcare in the U.S. Continue reading

Next chapter, page 2

It’s been seven months since I started my next life chapter. In January, I Ieft my position as CIO of the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers to begin a more independent and flexible path. I canstockphoto1593928wanted to be able to live near my family and work less than full-time over the course of a year. The first page of this chapter has been to serve as interim CIO at University Hospitals in Cleveland. I had just one weekend between finishing up in Michigan and starting in Cleveland. CIO positions are more than full-time but I knew that when we hired a permanent CIO, there would be time for me to get a break.

This week, the new permanent CIO at University Hospitals was named. Joy Grosser will be joining UH on September 12th. I am confident she is a great match for us. She is very accomplished, and has significant experience in other large health care organizations. She most recently served as Vice President and Chief Information Officer at UnityPoint Health in West Des Moines, Iowa, a 17 hospital health system. I have agreed to stay for several weeks past Joy’s arrival to orient her and to ensure a smooth transition.

For me, this engagement has been a terrific opportunity to work in a very strong organization with an excellent team. Much can be accomplished in a short time and our IT team proves that. They have been wonderful to work with and I will miss them.

For this final stage of my interim engagement, I will focus on two things. One is to keep everything moving including a host of projects and the day to day issue escalation. The second is to prepare a transition plan and do the turnover. I will be stepping back and letting Joy take the front seat come September 12th. I’ll be there to support her.

A new position means drinking from a firehose. Continue reading

On being a grandparent

My fourth grandbaby was born this week. I helped out by taking care of his 19 month old big sister while his parents were at the hospital. Being able to be present to give this support to my daughters is one of canstockphoto17685636the reasons I started my next chapter back in January.

Why is it so important for me to spend time with my family as my four grandchildren grow up?  My father died when I was just 4 years old. His death left my mother to raise my 3 older siblings and me alone. Her parents lived 3 hours away.  We only saw them a few times a year – a 3 hour drive for a mom and four kids was a big deal back then. My father’s parents had died before my parents were married. And my own daughters grew up without grandparents. By the time my husband and I were in our 30’s, all of our parents were deceased. None of them lived to age 70.

As a professional woman, I have worked far more than 40 hours a week since my late 20’s and been in management since 1984. When I had babies, a 6-week maternity leave was the norm. Both my daughters went to infant programs in daycare centers when I went back to work. I learned that babies start to smile at their parents (and it’s not just gas) at around 6 weeks old. I realized that I would miss her first smile being back at work.

I treasure the times I have now with my grandkids. My daughters are appreciative of the help I can give but don’t want it to be a burden. I have heard people my age say being a grandparent is great but it’s really nice to be able to hand the kids back to their parents. Yes, kids are demanding and tiring when you are no longer young. Continue reading

Just breathe

Our quarterly IT Town Hall was this week. It’s a chance to bring all staff together, welcome new employees, and recognize promotions and special individual accomplishments. Each IT leader highlightedcanstockphoto15842113 3 successes in their areas this quarter and their 2016 priority projects. I commented on the changes we’ve made: re-establishment of IT governance, process improvements to ensure a more stable production environment, and our new visual management board.

We squeezed all of that into the first half hour so we could get to our guest speaker, Dr. Francois Adan, Medical Director of UH Connor Integrative Health Network. She gave us something we could all use: techniques to manage stress.

In 50 minutes, through very compelling stories, we learned what seemed like relatively simple techniques. It’s all about breathing, mindfulness, positivity, and gratitude. Basic practices we can apply every day. With Dr. Adan’s engaging speaking and teaching style, it was a delight to learn from her.

So what did we learn? Continue reading

Do you know your big rocks?

April is a mixed month for me. No, I’m not talking about the fact that we had snow this week. In April, I celebrate many happy milestones, including my birthday and my wedding anniversary. Andcanstockphoto25793802 now, both my daughters have April wedding anniversaries. And the blooming daffodils along the road remind me that spring is finally here. 

Yet, there is always a sad part of April for me. My father died from Hodgkin’s disease on April 23rd, just a few days before my fourth birthday. Losing a parent as a child leaves a hole in your heart and shapes who you are.

Stephen Covey has a great story about “big rocks”. If you’re not familiar with it, just google it. Our families are our big rocks and my daughters remind me of that. And as little as they are, my grandchildren are also big rocks for me.  Every time one of my daughters calls me on FaceTime and I see a cute little toddler smiling at me from my iPhone, I fall in love with them all over again. Continue reading