In a complex healthcare environment where the expectations for leaders are constantly expanding, there’s a requirement that often gets overlooked: self-awareness. Not self-doubt, but awareness — the willingness to take some time to assess yourself and your organization, and make sure you’re doing what you should be doing. For Tim Stettheimer, it was that precise thought process that led him to his new role as VP of Education with CHIME, and he couldn’t be more excited.
In this interview, Stettheimer discusses the vision he and his team have to create “a path for leaders,” the tremendous value he sees in expanding educational efforts across the globe, and why it’s critical for CIOs to be “true believers.”
- New role with CHIME – “I’ve always been a teacher at heart.”
- “Creative opportunity” to expand current educational offerings & develop new programs
- Sharing best practices to achieve innovation, not just improvement
- Boot Camps in Ireland, England
- Creating a “longitudinal view of education”
- A path to help leaders “advance in their development”
- The “humility” and “eagerness” in faculty members
If I look at organizations that are like mine, I get ideas for improvement. But if I look at organizations that don’t look like mine, or are delivering care in a different environment, it gives me an opportunity not just for improvement, but for innovation.
While we might think it’s challenging in a single-payer environment where consumers don’t have a choice in where they seek care, that’s not how it actualizes. In fact, those organizations have to work even harder at consumer engagement.
We do this to learn. The requirements are becoming so much more challenging in our environment, and if we don’t look up and try to learn from best practices all around the world, we’re doing ourselves a disservice.
Sometimes the team will say to me, ‘we’re at full speed already — are you sure we can go faster?’ And I’ll say, ‘We can go faster. We can do more of the things that have made us successful.
Gamble: Hi Tim, thank you so much for taking some time to chat with us. Congratulations, first off, on being named VP of Education with CHIME. What are you looking to do in this role?
Stettheimer: Thank you. I am really excited about this role. I’ve spent the last 20 years of my career as a CIO, leading organizations and contributing to strategic planning. As I came upon this transition, I considered making the move to another CIO role, but when I was approached by CHIME, I saw an opportunity to support education efforts in a way that hadn’t been done before.
I’ve worked with CHIME in their education arena for more than a decade, teaching at their CIO Boot Camp and leadership academies. When I was on the Board a while back, I helped lead the education strategy and was a liaison to that arena. And so, while CHIME offers a lot in terms of networking and even benchmarking, it’s the education part that I love. I’ve always been a teacher at heart.
Gamble: And that’s what attracted you to this particular opportunity?
Stettheimer: It is. This role offers a chance to not just help with current education programs and provide feedback, but also to look at opportunities for expanding on those offerings, and creating programs that, even to a greater extent, touch on the developmental needs of CIOs and their teams. We’ve got some exciting things in the works already. So I would say that what attracted me to this role was the creative opportunity it offers.
Gamble: And are those programs focused both inside the US and outside?
Stettheimer: Yes. The international work is really exciting to me, because we have so much to learn from each other, and from those all around the world. In our day-to-day lives as CIOs, we can be very heads-down and focused on what we’re doing; often we’ll come up for air and start asking what similar organizations are doing — how are they looking in terms of strategy and financing? But we rarely look at it on a broader scale, and in doing so, we’re missing out.
If I look at organizations that are like mine, I get ideas for improvement. But if I look at organizations that don’t look like mine, or are delivering care in a different environment, it gives me an opportunity not just for improvement, but for innovation — thinking of things in ways I hadn’t thought about before.
With the members we’ve added around the world, that opportunity has peaked over the fence — even jumped over the fence, in some cases — to see what best practices in healthcare IT look like in different environments, different countries, different payer systems. It’s a chance to truly innovate and jump ahead.
Internationally, we’ve held leadership academies and have even been working on the startup of CHIME chapters in different countries. Last year, we began offering CIO Boot Camps — we’ve done a complete series in Ireland, and we’re doing one in Great Britain. It’s exciting. It’s an opportunity to get better as executives and leaders as we expand our scope worldwide.
Gamble: Are there particular areas where you feel there are big opportunities for the U.S. to learn from other counties, whether it’s consumer engagement, cybersecurity, or another area?
Stettheimer: Absolutely are. IT’s interesting; when you look at some of the single payer systems around the world, or countries like the UK where there’s a national health system, you discover a lot in terms of what we can do with consumer engagement and interaction. Because while we might think it’s challenging in a single-payer environment where consumers don’t have a choice in where they seek care, that’s not how it actualizes. In fact, those organizations have to work even harder at consumer engagement, for a few reasons. It’s not about competition — although there is some of that. It has to do with the transparency that happens when you’re in an environment where everything is more equal. That’s what we’re learning.
You also mentioned cybersecurity. In some of the countries we’ve visited, we’ve spoken to CIOs whose creative approaches far outpace ours. One example is Israel, which is in a position where it needs to be very much in tune with security requirements. And so in our work with Israel—I was lucky enough to visit the country—we learned that they have a robust approach to securing patient information — and even in the delivery of care, frankly. We’re just beginning to scratch the surface of this.
Gamble: Has CHIME had any resistance from members in terms of the international efforts?
Stettheimer: I wouldn’t call it resistance, but I have heard some CHIME members ask why we do international work, particularly when we have so many concerns to deal with in our own backyard. My answer is, we do this to learn. The requirements are becoming so much more challenging in our environment, and if we don’t look up and try to learn from best practices all around the world, we’re doing ourselves a disservice.
The other reason is that our mission at CHIME is to advance the leadership of healthcare executives; there’s nothing in that statement limiting it to the U.S. People all over the world need quality care that’s accessible. As healthcare and health IT leaders, we all face the same challenges, and so we’re trying to help that by connecting members both internationally and domestically.
Another area we’re starting to look at is what we call our longitudinal view of education. Up to this point, CHIME has offered extremely strong programs, but they’re core offerings that fall into specific buckets. We have advocacy programs that offer education on public policy. We have leadership academies where we do a compressed walkthrough of principles. We have cybersecurity forums. All of these, however, have stayed within their own space. What we’re looking for is an opportunity to create more of a path forward. We’ve had members finish CIO Boot Camp and then say, ‘what’s next?’
We didn’t have a path for what to do next — it was more like, ‘here’s what we offer, you can pick and choose.’ It was sort of like a dim sum menu. Going forward, we’d like to offer more of a course serving that can help people advance in their own development through a progression where it makes sense to move from one place to another. And we want to do that using what we’ve already learned through successful programs, and taking that to the next level, which is to connect these things together, and add in some new offerings to fill the gaps.
Gamble: So you really have a lot going on, and a lot in the works.
Stettheimer: We do. We’re a tight team, and we’re always busy. Sometimes the team will say to me, ‘we’re at full speed already — are you sure we can go faster?’ And I’ll say, ‘We can go faster. We can do more of the things that have made us successful. That could mean adding another Boot Camp, or increasing the number of leadership academies based on the needs of provider organizations, CHIME Foundation members, or even other organizations like HIMSS or AMIA. We’re saying, ‘why don’t we just schedule one every month?’ It’s doing more, faster — and I know it can raise eyebrows among the team when I suggest it. But they see vision. We just have to figure out how to balance it, because we don’t have a faculty on staff. These courses are taught by experienced people working in their positions, and so we’re also going to focus on recruiting and development more faculty members.
Gamble: When you’re recruiting faculty members, are there people who underestimate themselves and say, ‘I’m not sure I’m qualified enough’ when in fact they are?
Stettheimer: I find that people come at an invitation like that with the high degree of humility. They also have a degree of hesitation, because they want to be successful in the role. I also find that the people we invite are typically in the mid-to-late stage of their career; they’re at a point where they really want to give back, or as I like to say, pay it forward.
They’re executives and leaders who have benefited in their careers from others from mentoring and from others who have helped them. They’re eager to help others avoid the messes they’ve stepped into, and provide guidance to those who want to move into higher leadership roles. So there’s humility, but there’s also an excited eagerness.