Donna Hart applies lessons learned in the Army to her role as CIO of Cook County Health and Hospitals System.
Asix-year career in the U.S. Army, followed by 24 years in the Army Reserve, prepared Donna Hart well for her current job—serving as chief information officer at the Cook County Health and Hospitals System. In her position at Cook County, which encompasses Chicago and some of the metropolitan area, she oversees the hospital information systems, clinical engineering and telecommunications departments, with a combined annual budget of $80 million and 225 employees. Now, those lessons about collaboration and team achievement from early in her career in the military are helping her manage increasingly complex IT operations at one of the nation’s largest safety-net healthcare systems.
On technology at a safety-net system
Patients can log into the MyCookCountyHealth portal at any time or communicate electronically with their doctors. Soon, they will be able to request an appointment through the portal.
On merging tech and people skills
I’ve always had a hardware and technical background, and people told me I’d never be able to get into management because I’m so technical. We’re the folks seen as making technology too hard for people to understand. My job is making people know that IT can be very simple, always explaining it in simple terms.
On military influence
I am most proud of what we have today at Cook County, such as Stage 6 EMRAM for both the hospital and ambulatory sides. It was a team effort, and one thing the Army does teach you is that, as a leader, you have your troops and taking care of your troops, and taking care of my team members is my top priority for us to complete our goals. I carry those principles from the Army into my job.
On clinician staff relations
One thing you have to do is get out here and walk the hospital and clinics. I’m a firm believer that you have to know what’s going on in your institution. Where I work, this is the type of organization where you must get feedback from the users, division chairs and physicians. I’m a member of senior leadership, and I always have my ears out for their needs and wants. I’m their partner in whatever strategic plan they put out, and I want to put that technology behind that strategic plan.
On working hard
I work 12 to 14 hours a day trying to make sure our patients get the best care, no matter their ability to pay. It makes me very proud when I see our doctors using our EMR system; we have achieved more than 90 percent for meaningful use Stage 2. It makes me very proud when I see our case managers in the field servicing patients at home with tablets.
Donna Hart Chief information officer Cook County Health and Hospitals System Chicago