Ex­ec­u­tive Ses­sion

Health Data Management - - INSIDE - In­ter­view by Fred Baz­zoli

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

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