What’s the key to retaining top talent in an industry where it is at a premium? Challenge them, says Craig Richardville, who believes the brightest stars should have the loftiest goals. And there’s perhaps none loftier than his organization’s mission to usher the industry into the era of transformative, patient-centered care. In this interview, Richardville talks about why interoperability is “always a work in progress,” why he has no plans to move to a single-vendor platform, and how his team is applying the same principles used in the financial and retail worlds to revolutionize patient engagement. He also discusses what the CIO of the Year award meant to his team, his vision of healthcare in the future, and the question leaders should ask before embarking on any initiative.
- Learning from finance & retail
- Talent retention: “People like a good challenge.”
- CIO of the Year — “I’m just a figurehead of the great work they’re doing.”
- Vision of a “panoramic, 100% relationship with patients”
- Key to healthcare’s transformation? Preventative and proactive care
- Patient-first philosophy
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People like a good challenge. Good, strong people that you want on your team aren’t easy riders or coasters. They really want to continue to be challenged intellectually each and every day, and also be able to understand to see the impact of the changes that they’re making and the things that we’re doing.
We’ve been in the top 1 percent for several years. And for that I take great pride, because that means my people are engaged and our teammates are engaged across the whole system with all of what we’re doing, which means they really understand what our vision is. They really understand what our true north statement is.
It’s going to be so different 5 to 10 years from now. I can see it, I can feel it, I can look forward and see the things that are happening and how we move into consumerism and retail and really having more of a panoramic, 100 percent relationship with that person.
It’s really exciting, because you’re impacting family and friends and neighbors and loved ones, so it has more of an internal mission to people as opposed to whether your investments went up or down.
If you’re just looking at making decisions and criteria and developing initiatives — if you always come down to ask yourself the question what’s best for the patient, many of those answers are clear. So clear.
Gamble: I would assume that a key part of that is having a strong team in place. We hear a lot about the need to do what it takes to hold on to good people and grow leaders, and it’s something that’s a challenge for a lot of people in this industry. I wanted to get some of your thoughts about what your organization is doing to hold on to good people and to grow leaders?
Richardville: I’d say a couple of things. One is, we continue to be not only a teaching organization by leading the way in many of our efforts, but we’re also continuing to be a learning organization. And I think one of the clear indicators of strong leaders is one that has the ability to listen and to learn, and to apply that in their environment. So as we, within my area of responsibility, for example, continue to evolve and start leading this change, many of the things that we started learning from years ago, likely before many others, was to learn from other industries. Some of the analogies I gave you talked about what’s happening with financial services or what’s happening in retail. Those are things we started working on years ago because we saw the progression, and when we start looking at analytics, those were some things that we focused on years ago when we started building our enterprise data warehouse. So we had nearly a decade ago of capturing information and bringing it in from multiple sources because we could see that happening in other industries. We became more of a digital industry, just as they are all digital industries. And as healthcare is now more and more becoming a digital industry that delivers healthcare — it’s no different than a digital industry that delivers financial services or retail opportunities — we found ourselves ahead of the game, because by learning from other industries, we were able to develop some of the things that we have.
And with that comes also retention of good leaders — not only the recruitment, but also the retention. People like a good challenge. Good strong people that you want on your team — none of them are easy riders or coasters, they really want to continue to be challenged intellectually each and every day, and also be able to understand to see the impact of the changes that they’re making and the things that we’re doing.
So, no matter what the different service line is, whether it’s a corporate service line like environmental service or dietary transportation or one of the other ones similar to here where we have health information management, information services, some of our engineering areas, human resources — we’re all challenged. But we take those as opportunities and are able to get the support from our board and from our senior leaders to be able to allow people to excel. And by doing that, with those challenges, the retention part helps tremendously because people like to get up every day and be stimulated — at least the people that we were looking to be part of our team. They want to be stimulated by the challenges and the opportunities that are created.
No two days are really alike, but when you look at the true north of our system, that rarely changes. So, what we aspire to do and aspire to be, to be transforming and to be chosen for value, with all the things that we do, we can see how they contribute to that true north. And it’s really nice to watch the system progress, watch people be extremely satisfied.
For as long as I can recall, we’ve always been a top quartile, in some cases, a top decile nationwide with teammate engagement. Our annual teammate engagement survey places us in the top quartile, and then, like I said, some cases in the top decile. For IS, we’ve been in the top 1 percent for several years. Probably the lowest we’ve been is in the top 5 percent nationwide. And for that, I take great pride, because that means my people are engaged and our teammates are engaged across the whole system with all of what we’re doing, which means they really understand what our vision is. They really understand what our true north statement is. They understand their role as being part of a larger team and how they contribute to that. When people see value with what they’re doing, they can feel pretty good about doing the work. And so we’re very fortunate to have leaders who really engage the teammates to be part of the solutions.
Gamble: Right. And I’m sure it help when they see that the organization is being recognized — that’s something that can be motivating as well.
Richardville: Yeah, they take great pride in that, and they all play a part. Recently I was chosen CIO of the year by CHIME and HIMSS this year. Well, that is all pieces of 60,000 people working together. I am just a figurehead of all the great work that they’re doing and the impact that they’re having. So the fact that they all work together, we get recognized for that award and that is something we take great pride in.
There are many other awards that we continue to achieve each and every year, and those are just recognitions for the good work we do and how we compare and contrast ourselves with others. Many of those recognitions then put us in that leading transformation world, because you have to be in that top decile space in order to achieve some of the work. You can either be very strong leading the industry, or a very fast follower in some of the initiatives, and those who allow us then to be able to move the industry forward.
And it’s exciting times. One of my sons is actually in medical school, and I tell him that he’s coming in at just a great time of healthcare because it’s going to be so different 5 to 10 years from now than what it was 5 to 10 years ago. I can see it, I can feel it, I can look forward and see the things that are happening and how we move into consumerism and retail and really having more of a panoramic, 100 percent relationship with that person, versus always being coined the one that takes care of people that need care.
If you healthcare and divide it into two words, the care is what most people affiliate with providers, not necessarily the health side. And what we’re seeing now is we’re seeing a big shift. You always are going to have to have the care side, but you’re also seeing a big shift in investments on the health side and the resources and part of the strategy. So moving forward, the goal of health and wellness is trying to get people to be interactive and part of the system, and part of that is what we would call potentially like the rhythm of life or your daily habits. There are things you do each and every day — you may look at your financial accounts, you may look at Facebook, you may look at Instagram, you may look at your messaging, your emails, etc. We want health to be part of that, we want you to be able to have health be part of it. So whether it’s in terms of your diet or in terms of your exercise or in terms of managing and monitoring based upon the device and the apps that we talked about, those are all important aspects of people’s lives that many of us take for granted.
Historically, we always kind of came into the picture when you needed something, when you were ill or you had certain symptoms that you wanted to have treated. Well, the goal now is to not only identify those ourselves to be proactive in that care, but also to be part of prevention. Those prevention and proactive pieces are pieces that we’ve been doing for several years, and I think that is one of the things that is truly forming the transformation of healthcare — focusing on the before care activities, as well as that once you do leave our setting, the aftercare activity, to ensure that it doesn’t resurface again.
It’s really exciting, because you’re impacting family and friends and neighbors and loved ones, so it has kind of more of an internal mission to people as opposed to whether your investments went up or down or something that’s a little bit more external. This is truly intrinsic to the human nature we believe and the people that have those kinds of internal emotions and skills, and caregivers are really part of our industry. And so the health teammate patient referred to a while ago, it’s just critical getting those right people on board who have that intrinsic value proposition and are able to then go one step further and faster than others really helps change this industry.
Gamble: Yeah, it’s really fascinating to watch where things are going. For you as a parent too to see your son getting into this industry, I can imagine that that’s really exciting.
Richardville: It’s fun. He comes by and sometimes ask me things that sometimes we take for granted, and they’re just great points and great questions. There are thousands of people like that getting into the industry that have a whole different mentality of what they want to see and how they want to impact it, all the way from policy that’s being set, to actual hands-on care, to the virtual care in-between, the skill optimization, how we best optimize the use of people with different skills, whether they’re vascular practitioners or nurses or nurse’s aides. Everybody has a role in that whole delivery piece, from care management, care coordination, virtual care, they’re all just so important to us.
The thing that I probably like the most is the focus and the shift that we’re seeing we’re leading from being what I would say would be provider focused, where everything was for the convenience of the provider. Like I said, we’re a destination center, so people had to come for us for care. The hours of our operation were convenient for us. We’re moving all that and we’ve shifted all that for years now, and we’re starting to see the impact of it that we focus on the patient. For us, it’s been patient first always, but as an industry, some people would lean more toward what was best for the provider.
Now we’re focusing on what’s best for the patient and the reality is with all the different tools that we have, the different skills that are available, the way that we can manage our resources literally globally so that we can get the coverage that we want at certain times of the evening or the weekend or holidays where in other parts of the country or the other parts of the world where it may not be that way — this whole aspect of leveraging the resources that we have available to us is fantastic. And technology brings all that together, that whole patient-first philosophy. If you’re just looking at making decisions and criteria and developing initiatives — if you always come down to ask yourself the question what’s best for the patient, many of those answers are clear. So clear. Sometimes we try to make things complex and we factor this and we factor that, but it comes down to, just ask what is in the best interest of our patients, and you can pick the right answer.
Gamble: It’s funny, the last thing I was going to ask you was about what’s made you stay at the same organization as long as you have, but I think you’ve pretty much answered that.
Richardville: For me, it’s about the people that are here. The people here are just great visionaries, but they’re also great executors of a plan. Simply put, you plan the work and work the plan, and we’ve done a phenomenal job here. We’ve gotten the resources and the approval and the vision from our board, the C-suite is totally engaged with putting all the work and a lot of decision-making in the teammates’ hands — that improves our teammate engagement. And then the focus is always on the patient. Those three things really help us, and when we look at retention, it really is a nice way to keep people together, because you’re impacting people that you see every day in the streets. Whether you know them or not, it’s nice to have that feeling.
Gamble: Great, well said. Well, I really appreciate your time, especially on Monday morning, I’m sure you have a million things to do. Thank you so much. This has been great, and I know that our readers are going to find a lot of value in what you guys are doing.
Richardville: Fantastic. If any questions or anything come up, feel free to throw it my way.
Gamble: Okay, I will. Thank you so much, and I’ve enjoyed speaking with you.
Richardville: At any time in the future. I enjoyed talking to you.
Gamble: Thank you, you too.