A pharmacist by training, Lisa Stump admits that she never would’ve pictured herself in IT leadership. But after playing a key role in implementing an early CPOE system, she discovered her passion for “providing the right information to the people who can make the right decisions for patients,” and she’s never looked back. In this interview, Stump talks about why a largescale implementation is never really finished, the fascinating dichotomy of being an Epic client while also working with startup companies, and why she believes Yale New Haven’s focus on innovation will help recruit top IT talent. She also discusses her team’s groundbreaking work with patient engagement, the new skill sets that will be required as analytics and security bigger larger priorities, and why she ignores the word “interim.”
- Engaging patients with FamilyTouch
- Epic MyChart as a “one-stop shop”
- “Where there’s a real need, we look to collaborate & innovate.”
- Innovation as a recruiting tool
- From pharmacy to IT
- Ignoring the word “interim”
- Pushing back the Beaker deadline — “Making that decision was a tough one but it was the right one.”
LISTEN NOW USING THE PLAYER BELOW OR CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO OUR iTUNES PODCAST FEED
We don’t want patients to have to interact with many different applications around a given stay or around their care, and so using the patient portal as sort of the one stop shop for all of that is a strategy that we’re really trying to put forth.
We try to avoid just the new bright shiny object. Technology for technology’s sake, we think actually is counterproductive. But where there’s a real need, we look to collaborate and innovate — whether it’s a startup company or a big tried-and-true like Epic that we’ve already invested in as a core system, we want that platform to evolve and meet our needs as well.
A lot of people think healthcare IT is not a fast-moving innovative area if you’re a techie-focused person, and I really think that’s changing. It is a very dynamic area of practice right now. So yes, I do think it’s going to help us attract new talents.
That’s a big part of where my passion was — in leveraging technology to make care better, safer, and more efficient, and to drive quality outcomes. And a lot of my vision still today is around providing the right information to the people who can make the right decision for patients.
My approach has never been to have a deadline flip. And so making that decision was a tough one, but it was the right one. I think had I not probably had the experience of leading a project myself, I don’t know that I would’ve been able to make that decision as cleanly and clearly and confidently.
Stump: We’re looking at the feedback we get from our patients. Surgical is another area where if you’ve ever brought a friend or loved one to the hospital and they go off for their procedure, we know that patients are then waiting in the waiting room, and you’re a little bit tied to the area. We had traditionally been using pager-type devices like you see again in restaurants that buzz when your family member was out of surgery, but we’ve partnered with a local company around a new product called FamilyTouch that allows us to send secure text messages to family members that patients have designated to receive informational updates, and we found that to be very well received as well.
So when the patient presents for their case, they tell us who we should keep informed of their progress, we capture the cell phone number of those individuals, and then from a pre-canned list of messages, the staff has the ability to keep the family members or friends informed that the case has begun on time or perhaps was delayed, but the caregivers at least know exactly what’s going on. And it’s a text message, so they can be anywhere. They don’t need to be within close vicinity to the waiting room as those traditional tools had required. So that’s been incredibly positive as well.
We’re really using a variety of tools. Our patient portal, Epic MyChart, is a key in that overall strategy. It lets patients interact with their care team to ask questions and to do telemedicine visits to access their medical records, and so that’s really probably the center point of our strategy. And it’s also now starting to help us in that, as I mentioned, we don’t want patients to have to interact with many different applications around a given stay or around their care, and so using the patient portal as sort of the one stop shop for all of that is a strategy that we’re really trying to put forth.
Gamble: You’re really doing a lot of interesting initiatives with patient outreach and engagement. I noticed there’s definitely a common theme with a willingness to partner and collaborate with companies and do things that maybe aren’t as quite established yet, but really try to take ideas from concept to being carried out a little quicker. It seems like there’s a really like spirit of innovation there.
Stump: We are really trying to tap and look at new and innovative solutions. We do try to avoid just the new bright shiny object, for lack of a better word. Technology for technology’s sake, we think actually is counterproductive. But where there’s a real need, we look to collaborate and innovate — whether it’s a startup company or a big tried-and-true like Epic that we’ve already invested in as a core system, we want that platform to evolve and meet our needs as well. I often find we are then the point of integration between the big EMR vendor and the small innovator, and I think that’s a key role for health system IT executives — to be looking for that right balance of what’s coming from the core system. Where you need that new innovative bolt-on solution, and how you smartly drive that integration, I think, is a key role.
That’s an exciting area and I think it’s caused us to sort of stretch our skills and our efforts a little bit. It’s a bit of a paradigm shift. We traditionally have been a fairly risk-averse organization, and I think healthcare in general is risk-averse, but needing to take on some risk and learn quickly from some mistakes, I think, is an important evolution for us to truly leverage technology for healthcare.
Gamble: Yeah, and I think it could help as a recruiting tool too when people know that it’s possible to have an idea that can actually come to fruition, like the restaurant app. Maybe it invites a little bit different aspect of talent?
Stump: It does. I actually just had the opportunity to film a recruitment video for our organization and I think even the firm that was interviewing me for that video said, a lot of people think healthcare IT is not a fast-moving innovative area if you’re a techie-focused person, and I really think that’s changing. It is a very dynamic area of practice right now. So yes, I do think it’s going to help us attract new talents and great opportunities for a career right now.
Gamble: Okay. I want to switch gears a little bit to talk about your role. You’ve been with the organization for a number of years.
Stump: 20 years, yes. I just had my anniversary in August.
Gamble: Oh wow, congratulations. And you started in the pharmacy area?
Stump: I did. I’m a pharmacist by training and came to Yale New Haven initially as a clinical pharmacist. I eventually became the director of pharmacy and then in 2008, I started to move into healthcare IT. I actually created a division of clinical informatics for Yale New Haven Hospital, so it’s been an exciting career.
Gamble: And what made you interested in that? Obviously that’s the time where things were really starting to take off with health IT.
Stump: I think if you looked at my resume, you’d think, ‘she was always sort of building towards a career in IT.’ I really never would have pictured myself here, but technology for me as a clinician was always central to making care more efficient and safer. So when I think back to my early days as a pharmacist — and I’m dating myself here — I worked in a hospital in the Midwest and we were still using pencil, paper, highlighters and whiteout, reading handwritten orders from physicians, and transcribing them onto a document in the pharmacy, literally erasing and crossing out. The potential for error was obviously huge.
One of my very first assignments as a pharmacy resident was to automate our processes in the IV admixture room. And I laugh about it now, but the software arrived on a 3.5 x 5 floppy disk in the mail and I installed it on a hard drive in our IV room. Really from that point forward, I’ve always looked to technology to replace reliance on human memory, to provide helpful information. I was part of implementing computerized provider order entry for the first time and expanding its use, and so over time, I found that that’s a big part of where my passion was — in leveraging technology to make care better, safer, and more efficient, and to drive quality outcomes. And a lot of my vision still today is around providing the right information to the people who can make the right decision for patients.
Gamble: Okay. So you’ve been in the interim CIO role since last fall?
Gamble: So as far as being an interim CIO, you’ve been with the organization for many years and played a key role in the Epic implementation, so it’s certainly a different perspective than an outsider coming in to a new situation. But how did you approach the role?
Stump: Really from day one, I’ve just tried to ignore the word interim. I don’t see my role as temporary in any way, shape, or form. I think having the background that I do has given me insight into the organization, and the history I’ve built has allowed me to build credibility with clinicians, with the leadership of the organization, and the IT staff, who have seen me at various levels even within the IT organization. I still have great excitement and passion both for the mission of the organization and my ability to help drive it forward through IT, so ‘interim’ really has not played a big part in how I’ve tried to conduct myself over the last year, and in leading the team forward.
Gamble: One of the key themes we see with the CIO role is in being somebody who supports the staff. I would think that there’s no time where there’s a greater need for that than something like what you just went through with the Beaker implementation. Was it different going through something like that being in this role?
Stump: That’s a very insightful question. Being the front-line project director is different clearly than leading it from the seat of the CIO in a more strategic approach. But again, I think my experience there let me understand very clearly what the team was going through. One of more difficult decisions I had to make was around our timeline. I hinted at it earlier that we had originally planned to go live with Beaker in April, and as we really started to work through the details of the plan and really understand the opportunities we had around consolidation, there was a key decision point around, can you take on that additional work and risk of all the consolidation that we wanted to accomplish, and could we do that in the same timeframe? We initially thought that we could, and we’re working toward that end, but it became pretty clear we couldn’t do that safely, both from a patient safety perspective and an operational-financial perspective. And so I needed to make the decision to move that timeline.
It may be common in other IT organizations, and a lot of people probably expect IT timelines to flip, but my approach has never been to have a deadline flip. And so making that decision was a tough one, but it was the right one. I think had I not probably had the experience of leading a project myself, I don’t know that I would’ve been able to make that decision as cleanly and clearly and confidently, that we truly needed to move that timeline. And the team respected that decision, as did the organization. Again, it was the right one.
Gamble: Certainly not an easy call, but like you said the right one.
Gamble: Okay, I think that that covers what I wanted to talk about. I know we’ve definitely covered a lot, and it’s been really interesting hearing your about not just what you guys are doing with the organization, but the interesting perspective that you bring, so I really appreciate you giving some time to speak with us.
Stump: I appreciate the opportunity, Kate, thank you very much.
Gamble: Sure. And hopefully, I’ll catch up with you again in the future to see how things are going.
Stump: Wonderful, I’d appreciate it.