Most Pow­er­ful Women in Health­care IT

50 ex­ec­u­tives who are lead­ing the shift to achieve health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions’ strate­gic mis­sions.

Health Data Management - - CONTENTS - BY FRED BAZZOLI

Th­ese lead­ing IT ex­ecs are play­ing an in­creas­ingly strate­gic role in im­ple­ment­ing tech­nol­ogy in their health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Health­care IT ex­ec­u­tives and thought lead­ers are mak­ing a tran­si­tion within their roles. In the past, they’ve been called upon to man­age very tech­ni­cal re­spon­si­bil­i­ties—in the last decade, that’s pri­mar­ily in­volved get­ting elec­tronic health records sys­tems rolled out. Now, th­ese ex­ec­u­tives are tak­ing it up a notch. They’re being asked to keep in­creas­ingly com­plex in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy sys­tems run­ning, as well as to help ful­fill the mis­sions of health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions. That’s a com­mon theme among those named to Health Data Man­age­ment’s 2018 third an­nual list of the Most Pow­er­ful Women in Health­care IT. A to­tal of 50 lead­ers in health­care in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy were named to the list. To de­ter­mine which ex­ec­u­tives to honor, HDM so­licited nominations from its readers; HDM ed­i­tors then sub­mit­ted their own rec­om­men­da­tions, based on their knowl­edge of the in­dus­try. The ed­i­to­rial staff then re­viewed each can­di­dates’ qual­i­fi­ca­tions and de­cided on the fi­nal list. The roles of health­care IT lead­ers have ex­panded—they’re in­creas­ingly de­mand­ing, grow­ing in com­plex­ity. The speed of in­no­va­tion has risen dra­mat­i­cally, con­tends Sheree McFar­land, a re­peat hon­oree. “Busi­ness lead­ers and con­sumers are more ed­u­cated than ever, with in­creas­ing ex­pec­ta­tions,” says McFar­land, CIO of the West Florida Di­vi­sion for HCA Health­care. “In re­sponse, tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies are ad­vanc­ing their capabilities rapidly.” That’s a chal­lenge, too, McFar­land says, be­cause there’s an grow­ing num­ber of solutions, both prod­ucts and plat­forms.

“The pro­lif­er­a­tion of IT can lead to mul­ti­ple solutions try­ing to solve sim­i­lar prob­lems, cre­at­ing a more frag­mented user ex­pe­ri­ence and a more com­plex IT en­vi­ron­ment.” The ris­ing num­ber of health­care IT solutions is adding chal­lenges for IT ex­ec­u­tives who are try­ing to make di­verse sys­tems ex­change in­for­ma­tion and work to­gether, says Theresa Mead­ows, se­nior vice pres­i­dent and CIO at Cook Chil­dren’s Health Care Sys­tem, Fort Worth, Texas. “Now that the ma­jor­ity of health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions have EHRs de­ployed, the fo­cus is how do we en­sure in­ter­op­er­abil­ity with other third-party sys­tems and other or­ga­ni­za­tions,” Mead­ows says. “The abil­ity to have re­li­able in­for­ma­tion about the pa­tient across care tran­si­tions is ex­tremely im­por­tant. We also now have the abil­ity to be­gin us­ing the data col­lected by the EHR to make strate­gic de­ci­sions that will im­pact pa­tient out­comes.” Deanna Wise, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and CIO at Dig­nity Health, be­lieves sim­i­larly. “A CIO’s job isn’t just about de­ploy­ing tech­nol­ogy—I’m al­ways look­ing for cre­ative and in­no­va­tive ways to ac­com­plish am­bi­tious goals that serve to im­prove the qual­ity and safety of pa­tient care,” she says. “Our IT team con­tin­ues to cre­ate new strate­gies to meet our most foun­da­tional tech­ni­cal and strate­gic chal­lenges.” Those di­verse chal­lenges mean in­creas­ingly in­cor­po­rat­ing new types of tech­nolo­gies. “Data man­age­ment, an­a­lyt­ics and data gov­er­nance are go­ing to be skills that all CIOs must mas­ter over the next sev­eral years,” Mead­ows says. Data science capabilities will grow in im­por­tance, McFar-

land as­serts. CIOs and the thought lead­ers that sup­port them will need to un­der­stand how ini­tia­tives such as the clin­i­cal data ware­house and pre­dic­tive an­a­lyt­ics can serve broader or­ga­ni­za­tional ini­tia­tives, she says. “HIT lead­ers must be able to pro­duce rapid value as the land­scape of prod­ucts and busi­ness needs change rapidly.” HIT ex­ec­u­tives—and the ven­dors and con­sul­tants that sup­port them—also are un­der pres­sure to pro­vide a mea­sur­able re­turn on in­vest­ment for tech­nol­ogy, she adds. “Although tech­nol­ogy can be ap­plied to var­i­ous busi­ness chal­lenges, as financial pres­sure is ap­plied, it’s im­por­tant that IT in­vest­ments yield clin­i­cal and financial ben­e­fits.” HIT ex­ec­u­tives also must ex­pand their skill sets to deal with cy­ber­se­cu­rity threats, work­ing to in­form the ex­ec­u­tive suite of emerg­ing chal­lenges as well as en­sure that se­cu­rity pro­fes­sion­als are in place to pro­tect the in­for­ma­tion sys­tems on which health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions are in­creas­ingly de­pen­dent. “The threats against health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions will con­tinue,” Mead­ows says. “It is im­por­tant that CIOs take an ac­tive role in ed­u­cat­ing their peers, the board of di­rec­tors and the or­ga­ni­za­tion around cy­ber­se­cu­rity. Risk man­age­ment and cy­ber­se­cu­rity in­ci­dent pre­pared­ness are key skills for CIOs.” Pow­er­ful IT ex­ec­u­tives and thought lead­ers also will find them­selves com­mu­ni­cat­ing with more di­verse au­di­ences, and being called upon to lead larger work­forces. Emerg­ing lead­ers will need to de­velop skills to man­age work­ers in com­plex health­care en­vi­ron­ments, the ex­ec­u­tives be­lieve. “The modern CIO must func­tion like a COO who over­sees the end-to-end daily op­er­a­tions and en­gages with the busi­ness to pre­pare for the fu­ture,” says Wise. “I’ve found that em­ploy­ees cre­ate the best solutions and make their most sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions when they’re in the right work en­vi­ron­ment, one where they are trusted to per­form and they feel val­ued and em­pow­ered. One of the most im­por­tant parts of my job is to fos­ter that en­vi­ron­ment by con­sis­tently shar­ing the IT strat­egy and the big pic­ture.” And that bleeds over into a re­newed fo­cus on the “cus­tomers” of health­care IT, who are the front-line users, says Pamela Sae­chow, as­so­ciate CIO at the Cleve­land Clinic. “We’re mov­ing into dig­i­ti­za­tion to cre­ate a seam­less and op­ti­mal care­giver ex­pe­ri­ence, as well as one for our pa­tients,” she says. “My ar­eas of fo­cus now are to build a high-per­for­mance team, pro­vide ex­cel­lent cus­tomer ser­vice and in­crease ve­loc­ity—fo­cus on speed to value. And there’s a re­newed fo­cus on re­mov­ing com­plex­ity and go­ing to sim­plic­ity. This needs to be a mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial part­ner­ship with strate­gic and tac­ti­cal part­ners to drive value, cre­ate stan­dard­iza­tion and au­to­ma­tion, and re­duce costs.”

Among the Most Pow­er­ful Women in HIT: Theresa Mead­ows, SVP/CIO, Cook Chil­dren’s Health Care Sys­tem; Pamela McNutt, SVP/CIO, Methodist Health Sys­tem; and Liz John­son, CIO of Acute Care Hos­pi­tals and Ap­plied Clin­i­cal In­for­mat­ics, Tenet Health­care.

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