Q: Now you have an EHR vendor, Epic, and the opportunity to work with enterprise class technology companies, Microsoft, ServiceNow, Salesforce etc. There’s also this growing ecosystem of digital health startups that are bringing a lot of innovation to the table. How do you parse through this landscape as a CIO, managing the risks yet driving innovation as you transform your organization?
Timothy: Another great question. It’s a tough thing to solve, no matter where you are, how big you are, for-profit, or not-for-profit. Knowing every startup, every technology and where it’s progressing, what’s real and what’s not makes for a very confusing, chaotic environment out there. That’s a difficult thing to attack.
What it leads to is what I inherited when I first came in here, and started looking at our digital transformation program, enterprise wide. I inventoried almost 150 different digital pilots or proof of concepts going on all over the place with IT’s involvement. Now, you want some of this innovation to happen, but you don’t want to happen in chaos. In that way, where you have six solutions for the same problem, there emerge duplications, so, I brought in a digital officer and started making an inventory. Then, we collapsed that back down so as to clean up and evaluate the environment before adding more things to the pile.
I would also recommend having some good, trusted partners to help you in that journey of assessment because they can focus greatly on that marketplace while you focus on your full-time day job. After inventory and collapsing, you need to get control over what’s happening, herd the cats and ensure governance in that model to figure out what you’re trying to solve and the solutions for it. I found that we were bringing in lots of solutions looking for a problem, but we weren’t doing well. It’s important to define what the problem is, what good looks like, what the outcome that we want to achieve is and what the value, if we were to achieve that, is, and then prioritize those things that bring the highest value. Then, go, attack in a structured way.
The best solutions — either things you already have in-house or integrate or new solutions externally that you bring in to help solve that problem — enable a constructive way forward that isn’t about “Here’s a great cool technology, let’s figure out where we can use this.” It’s about understanding our big problems and our big value creation across the system, and focusing on those two things. The beauty of that is, once I have that construct now, I stay focused on what I really need to solve. When I get 20 emails a day from various vendors and both, internally and externally, I can put it against that lens and say, “Hey, that doesn’t fit in my top priority things that I’m worried about. I’m not getting 120 for another 18 months. So, come back and talk to me then.”