The Healthcare CIO Look Back / Look Forward series with Erica Williams, Chief Information Officer – CHS Southwest Market
The Healthcare CIO Look Back / Look Forward series with Erica Williams, Chief Information Officer – CHS Southwest Market
Bill Russell: 00:04 Welcome to this week in health it events where we amplify great ideas with interviews from the floor. My name is bill Russell healthcare CIO, coach and creator of this week in health it a set of podcasts and videos dedicated to developing the next generation of health leaders. We want to thank our founding channel sponsors who make this content possible, health lyrics and VMware. If you want to be a part of our mission to develop health leaders, go to this week, health.com/sponsor for more information. This episode is sponsored by health lyrics. When I became a CIO, I was really overwhelmed at first and one of the first things I did was to sign a CIO coach to walk with me through the journey. This was someone who had wisdom that can only be gained through years of experience. It was invaluable to my success in the role and I now coach CIOs through health lyrics.
Bill Russell: 00:55 If you want to learn more, visit health Lyrics. Com or drop me a note at [email protected] over the next three weeks. We have a huge treat for you. I’m really excited about it. Uh, I just got back from the chime fall forum in Scottsdale, which was a great event and we caught up with 12 active CIOs from various size health systems and asked them to take a look back at 2019 and I look forward at 2020. Uh, you’re going to hear, um, what they’re excited to have accomplished last year and what they’re looking forward to accomplish next year. I asked each of them the same eight questions and I think you’re going to be fascinated to hear the similarities and the differences based on where they’re at. Geography and other things. Each of these interviews is about 10 minutes long so you can listen to them really quick.
Bill Russell: 01:41 And some of you listen that one and a half times speed. So it’s going to go like that. Uh, we’re going to publish one a day, uh, with a few news day episodes sprinkled in through the end of November. So check back every day for the next episode and don’t forget to look back to see if you missed any. In our next conversation I get to sit down with Erica Williams who is the chief information officer for CHS in the Southwest market. And the thing I like about this conversation is it gives us a very different perspective. She is over a lot of, or she works with a lot of hospital hospitals, which are in rural markets, so different perspective. Hope you enjoy.
Bill Russell: 02:16 So we’re here again from Chime fall forum with another one of our CIO interviews and I’m with Erica Williams with CHS out of Austin.
Erica Williams: 02:26 Yes. I’m based in Austin, the market CIO for Texas.
Bill Russell: 02:30 market CIO for texas. How many hospitals in the Texas?
Erica Williams: 02:32 I have 11 in Texas and also supporting three in New Mexico.
Bill Russell: 02:36 That’s a lot. Yes, a lot of travel involved there.
Erica Williams: 02:41 Yes. Everyone is rural so there’s not, it’s not easy to just fly somewhere. There’s a lot of, a lot of driving. So Austin is the most central, so that made sense for me to be there to get everywhere in some way.
Bill Russell: 02:54 My daughter’s now going to Baylor and you know, we flew in to Dallas and drove, right. There’s a lot of space between cities. Yes. And it’s space. Just space.
Erica Williams: 03:05 Yes. When I was touring the hospital for the first time, I’ve been in my role for about a year and it was, I have some interesting stories of cattle in the road and just navigating to the different hospitals.
Bill Russell: 03:17 That was great. All right, so what we’re doing is we’re, we’re sort of eight question, we’re looking back, we’re looking forward and um, uh, you know, one of the first things we were asking people, you’re new in this role for CHS, but how have you seen the role of the CIO changed maybe over the last 12 months?
Erica Williams: 03:37 Over the last 12 months? I don’t think, you know, macro level, I haven’t seen a whole lot of change. It continues to be more and more integrated with the business. So there’s very little that the business wants to do from a strategy perspective where it isn’t there, helping them get there. So I don’t think there’s been any major changes. Just continuous, um, you know, relationship need and building there with business partners.
Bill Russell: 04:02 What are some of the, so what we’ve been asking is what do you know, what are three priorities that your health system as for next year that health, its support.
Erica Williams: 04:12 Our initiatives right now are really about strengthening our foundation. So we’re looking at getting our network, a software defined win and um, you know, our clinician experience obviously is our biggest impact and where we can make an impact, um, getting our clinician experience so we can impact the patient experience. Um, on top of that is also looking at solutions like unified communication as a service and helping clients all really simplifying it and also looking at ways to impact the clinician.
Bill Russell: 04:49 So most of your, most of your hospitals are in rural areas. Yeah. So I understand what you’re talking about, the network. So that’s, that’s one of the, cause we were in some rural locations as well. And you know, doing your network build out in Southern California very easy, right? But when you start to get into getting into places where there aren’t as many carrier choices and there aren’t as many services, that is a challenge.
Bill Russell: 05:14 Does that impact, does that impact the clinicians significantly?
Erica Williams: 05:21 Well, yes. So the biggest problem that we have is the last mile is shared. We have two circuits. We have two different vendors, but still at the last mile of the hospital it’s the same. So you have that one point of failure. So the software defined win and will give us the opportunity to reduce costs of having one circuit and then give us the, the ability to leverage using broadband and then tertiary LTE and cellular.
Bill Russell: 05:48 So you have no outlet. Essentially what tries to do is mitigate outages, right?
Erica Williams: 05:53 That’s the biggest impact from a network perspective is there’s no network, there’s no systems. And then you know, we have to start there.
Bill Russell: 06:01 It’s, it’s interesting because with all this talk of, you know, the CIO is roles being elevated. It’s about the business is about this and whatever.
Bill Russell: 06:07 And every now and then I’ll say somebody. Yeah. But if your network doesn’t work, you get fired. It’s like you still have to have the data centers has to run the network has to run. Those systems have to keep running and that’s, that’s still foundational to the CIO. Right. Um, know what’s one initiative that you believe will materially impact the patient experience in the communities that you serve?
Erica Williams: 06:27 One initiative that we worked on this year, uh, community health is working with Apple to make the patient record available in Apple health, which was huge. I mean, even me as a patient, I was extremely excited to be able to have access to my own healthcare record because I believe, and I think that’s where we’re headed, is to have the patient be the custodian of their own information. So that was, I think probably the biggest patient impact, um, that, that we had from a large scale.
Bill Russell: 06:56 That’s fantastic. Uh, one uh, one initiative that’s going to materially impact or has materially impacted the, uh, clinician experience.
Erica Williams: 07:06 Then our thin client, we recently and one of my hospitals piloted for the organization, the thin client environment. So that’s tackling both the clinician experience and also tackling the issue of lifecycle management. Right. So, um, we have about a hundred devices within focusing on the nursing areas in the physician areas, giving them, um, they’re not having to wait on a PC to read foods. They have a standardized view. They don’t log on to one PC on the second floor or the fourth floor. It looks the same. They can tap in, tap out and um, that, that one is one that’s going to expand. We started that this year and we’ll expand it out next year.
Bill Russell: 07:45 I don’t think people recognize that, you know, when you have those, uh, those clients, you have to upgrade them every three years or they’re just not any three years about, about the edge, right.
Bill Russell: 07:57 Four years, they’re too slow for those environments. But with thin clients and you’re building out the infrastructure really in the data center, right. Life cycle. We restart life cycle to seven years. I don’t know if that was going to work or not. We are here to find out.
Erica Williams: 08:14 Right. I mean that’s, um, that’s what we hear. the thin clients will have a, a longer life span, but we’ll see. But the idea of just being able to easily swap it out, there’s no really set up, you just kind of plug and play. So it’s easier for our technicians to support. It does require a higher level of support from assist admin perspective. So we will focus to make sure that we have have those resources and the right resources to support that. But we can support that more at a market level versus facility by facility.
Bill Russell: 08:43 So, um, what’s the greatest success your health it team has had in 2019?
Erica Williams: 08:51 Well for, for my role, I’m not only new to the, but the role is brand new. Prior to me coming into the Texas market, each of my hospitals functions completely independent and so we have the corporate it and then we had independent silos of it, at each hospital that didn’t really work together. So my um, my goal this year and we’re continuing to expand on that, is creating a shared services market model support. So it’s creating a service desk across the market. It’s creating assist admin team across the market, creating collaborative relationships amongst the leaders. So that’s the biggest impact.
Bill Russell: 09:30 That’s fantastic. What’s one thing in 2019 that you wish you had more time to spend trying to tackle. Maybe a missed opportunity.
Erica Williams: 09:41 I don’t know that it’s a missed opportunity but more I’m coming into this role and as I, as I mentioned, trying to build a market support level. It’s really been, and with our initiatives being focused on the foundation, it’s really been on the technical side as I mentioned on on the, the text and the assist admins and the um, the help desk support. So I wanted as well to bring in to those clinics, the clinicians, the clinical informaticist as well. And again, they’re kind of siloed in my market still. So wanting to pull them in and I started that, but we have a lot more opportunity there.
Bill Russell: 10:16 What’s one area you’d like to see more innovation if, if the, if the health industry were to move things forward, which one area you’re like, I really wish we could move the needle?
Erica Williams: 10:26 Well, I think the consumer is talked about the healthcare records being more available and having our consumers being their own custodian. And I talked about that a little bit, but another initiative that I worked on in my previous life was around real time locating and there’s, we found some extreme patients, um, you know, experience benefits, but the cost of the infrastructure is just so prohibitive of being able to do those sort of things. And we did the hand hygiene, which we made significant impacts on infection rates, you know, asset management and helping our clinicians and also as a cost benefit for that behavioral health around me. There’s so, so much that we could do to leverage the workflow of our, of our clinicians and just what they do. And it’s just really the infrastructure to do that is really costly.
Bill Russell: 11:13 Sorry, I’m just going to have to ask a followup question for that. So we’re using a BLE, Bluetooth low energy or what we were using RF.
Erica Williams: 11:25 Yeah. So Bluetooth, you know, it is a possibility. We haven’t worked with that yet, but um, finding ways for us to and within the healthcare area, being able to be able to capture those kind of timestamps and, and workflow pieces.
Bill Russell: 11:41 I understand what you’re saying. There’s a lot of value. You know, RFID, you can track the movement of the patients and you can identify bottlenecks within the the system, finding devices that are stuck in closets that you didn’t realize you had somewhere. Um, but RFID was, uh, just a little cost prohibitive for it is extremely costly. Yes. It’s interesting. Yeah. I’d love to see progress with that. Um, so you know, we did this survey of our listeners and one of the questions they want me to start asking CIOs is, uh, uh, what health it roles do you expect to be hiring in the next year?
Erica Williams: 12:20 It’s going to be, as I mentioned with some of the life cycle management and some of the projects that I mentioned is those higher level, it’s going to be, well, it’s kind of a mix. It’s that first year support at the service desk and also the CIS admins and network engineers for where we are as an organization.
Bill Russell: 12:37 I mean, the thing I love about this conversation is when you, uh, yeah, so we had Cedars on the show completely, you know, Southern California, different kind of thing. Um, and I’ve talked to some, a small health system CIO, well, nobody will get anything out of it. I’m like, no, there’s an awful lot of health systems that aren’t talking about, you know, Hey, we’re going to do artificial intelligence in this way. They’re waiting for the industry to sort of do it and then they’ll bring it into their system because they don’t have the money to make those kinds of bets that could potentially pan out or not. Right. Um, but there’s an awful lot of hospitals that are sitting there going, yeah, how can I track my patients better? How can I engage them better in the community? How can I create a healthier community? I mean, just all those basic questions and maybe not with as much budget as some of the other health systems. That’s great. Well. Erica, thank you very much for stopping by. I appreciate it.
Bill Russell: 13:30 I hope you enjoy the conversation. Remember to check back often as are going to drop an episode a day for most of November of 2019 following that, please come back every Friday for more great interviews with influencers and don’t forget every Tuesday we take a look at the news which impacts health it. If you want to support the fastest growing podcast and the health it space. Here’s a few ways that you can do that. The first share it with a peer, share it with a friend, share it with somebody who’s working right there next to you. Number two, sign up for insights and staff meeting. These are services designed to help you in your career. Number three, interact with our social media content on Twitter and LinkedIn. Number four, post or repost our content and number five, always send me feedback bill @this week in health it.com your insights continue to shape the channel. This show is a production of this week in health it for more great content. You can check out our website at this week, health.com or our YouTube channel. Special thanks to our sponsors, VM-ware and health. Eric’s for choosing to invest in developing the next generation of health leaders. Thanks for listening. That’s all for now.
Bill Russell: 14:49 [inaudible].
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