Whether it’s termed customer or colleague satisfaction, David Lundal is focused on not only ensuring those he serves have the technology they need to deliver superior patient care, but are happy to call IT when they need help with it. Specifically, the massive and complex organizations he calls home are well along the road of implementing just about everything Epic has to sell, in just about all their entities. To learn more about both his organization and how it’s working to have IT seen as sound service provider, healthsystemCIO.com recently caught up with the long-time IT professional.
- Lundal’s team
- Future opportunities and career paths
- Striking a sound work/life balance
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in the ’90s people wanted to grow to get cash. They were willing to be acquired or join a larger system for cash, but now, more and more, it’s about getting access to technology. I don’t think you can survive without technology.
I try to break this down into the smallest teams possible, so that we can just be sitting around, almost like a kitchen table-type scenario. Everyone can have their town hall meetings where they stand up in front of all 200 people and talk, but the level of connection is not very good there.
Here I am working on my Blackberry, loving it in terms of email and calendar and Blackberry Messenger, I really enjoyed, loving all that. But clearly that’s not cloud. That’s not mobile. It’s not all the future things that I need to give an opinion on.
Guerra: What kind of team do you have reporting to you? How many direct reports and below those folks, approximately what’s the size of your team?
Lundal: I think it’s 12 reporting to me.
Guerra: That’s a lot, right? That sounds a little high.
Lundal: It is a lot. They’re very good people. So that’s helpful. I do have it go through my head sometimes: “Do I need to simplify that?” and that’s in the mix too of what do I need to do.
Guerra: And how many folks under them?
Lundal: There are 21, and I’ll tell you why that is and tie that into something that I think is part of my job. We focused a lot on the organization. The whole Epic strategy, the electronic health record strategy, Meaningful Use, that’s one of those things from a strategy standpoint that you know what you’re doing and it’s kind of old school. As I describe it to people, we’re going to do electronic health records, you get the Gartner Magic Quadrant our, you identify the top vendors, you do a selection process, and then you do the biggest thing you’ve ever done in your life for 5, 6, 7 years. That’s what it is.
Where we’re at is that the biggest thing we’ve ever done in our lives project is going on. In the middle of working with multiple companies, I couldn’t go to one CEO and have a decision made. We have multiple CEOs that are involved in all of this. So you had that dynamic. You’ve got the fact that everyone in healthcare wants to grow and, several years ago, the CEO of SSM Wisconsin said that in the ’90s people wanted to grow to get cash. They were willing to be acquired or join a larger system for cash, but now, more and more, it’s about getting access to technology. I don’t think you can survive without technology.
So the other thing that we have in our philosophy is we need to do things very well because I never know when the CEO is going to say, “Hey we’re talking to this organization, they’d like to talk to you about doing Epic so let’s do site visits.” Just recently I’ve had a hospital organization visiting sites where we implemented Epic, and they’re asking not only about Epic but about our organization. So it’s very important that they say, “Yeah, you know what, they’re fantastic. It’s the best thing we ever did was joining them because they take great care of us.” So that’s very important.
I guess that’s the long way of getting around to the 22 or 21 reports who report to my 12 direct reports because I focus on what can I do to help this organization because we need this organization to run really, really well. And that’s kind of the mode we’ve been in for probably the last five years. One of the things I do is I have a sit down with every manager and their direct reports and I try to break this down into the smallest teams possible, so that we can just be sitting around, almost like a kitchen table-type scenario. Everyone can have their town hall meetings where they stand up in front of all 200 people and talk, but the level of connection is not very good there. I can write to keep them updated on things, but the level of interaction, the benefit I get by having those individual connections in smaller group conversations is really key.
That’s what I’ve been about for the last five years, is making sure the organization is very strong. Now we’re now getting into a different era for me, because the heavy lifting is essentially done. We’re now getting into the non-Gartner Magic Quadrant area. We’re getting into smaller things. For example, we’re doing on business intelligence right now in a development project with a company that’s very good in one aspect of the space.
The other big thing we’re getting into is telemedicine, telehealth. In all of these, you’re dealing with some smaller vendors. You’re trying to do some creative things. So the strategy is coming back to the forefront for me. I have to help guide the organization by picking the things we’re going to invest in and when are we going to invest in those things.
Guerra: So it sounds like you should have plenty of opportunities for yourself personally. What are your thoughts about what might lay down the road for you?
Lundal: I think everyone gets calls on things. I get calls occasionally. That’s a complicated mix of my job as a CIO and my other roles as husband and father. My oldest daughter, she’s going to be starting high school here in about a month, and then I’ve got two behind her and they all very much like living here in Madison. They have lots of friends.
The other thing is the organization is doing really well and poised to do some nice growth here in Wisconsin. As you can probably tell from everything I’m saying, the job is pretty big that I have. So a lot of the calls that I get, they’re for jobs that aren’t any bigger than what I have, and then they would require a move.
So right now I’m sitting tight and just enjoying what I’m doing and then we’ll see what comes down the road. I can’t imagine that I’ll be able to keep doing this for too much longer. There will be a point where I’ll say, “I’ve accomplished everything I can accomplish here, let’s do something else.” At that point, hopefully, I’ll keep doing things and keep growing and people will look at everything that I’ve done from home care to ambulatory, inpatient to managing what I think right now is some technology of the future. When I’m ready, I’ll be able to find something that fits. That’s how I’m handling it right now.
Guerra: The job is not without its stresses, right?
Lundal: It is not, that’s true.
Guerra: Not a stress-free job. You mentioned taking a couple of days off. Were you able to disconnect when you get out of the office or are you attached to the iPhone? I should say the iPhone, that’s probably the default for everyone.
Lundal: I actually had my Blackberry up until a month ago. My daughter wanted to upgrade her iPhone and I went in with her and went ahead and took the plunge and I upgraded mine as well to an iPhone. I was a Blackberry user until then.
Guerra: She was probably saying, “Dad, you can’t have a Blackberry anymore.”
Lundal: Part of it too is just thinking what’s my role here in understanding new technology. One of the big topics on our plate, of course, is mobile and that’s either an Android or an iPhone. Here I am working on my Blackberry, loving it in terms of email and calendar and Blackberry Messenger, I really enjoyed, loving all that. But clearly that’s not cloud. That’s not mobile. It’s not all the future things that I need to give an opinion on. If I’m kind of a caveman in terms of my technology being older, that’s not going to help. So I made that plunge.
I think disconnecting, I try and do that. I don’t like coming back to the office and having hundreds of emails in there so I try and delete the ones that I can. Other than that, I do try to disconnect. Now I’m looking forward to 2013. So in January, I hit my 10 years with SSM and I’ll start accruing at a little bit higher vacation rate. I’ve never taken a two-week vacation. So I’m just now passing 20 years in the industry and never done that.
Lundal: People tell me that it’s completely different from a one-week vacation. You do truly get to relax because on a one-week you’re just unwinding from the stress of work the first few days and then you have about a day where you’re kind of there and you’ll start thinking about work again because you’re going back in a couple of days. They say with a two-week, you have a lot of time where you can really just absolutely relax. I’ve got just an awesome team. I know that I can do that and be away and not really worry about anything because people take care of whatever issues come up.
So we’re in the midst of what can we do now. It’s not easy planning a two-week vacation. So we’ll see what we get done. If you ask me again a year from now, maybe I’ll have a better idea of if I was able to disconnect or not.
Guerra: Any prime targets for your two-week vacation? Any top three?
Lundal: I’ve been going back and forth between doing the Wisconsin thing — rent a house on a lake and just chill for two weeks or doing something on the East Coast. We like renting houses because there’s five of us and we like to invite people with us if we can and a house is nice for that. Renting a house somewhere that can be a central base where there’s a beach or something close by, but also maybe we can drive into Washington D.C. and see things there, make it to New York City or something, places that you want to take the kids before they get out of the house.
I’ve never been to Europe, but I’m not sure about financially swinging it now, or is that something I’m going to have to do when the kids are gone and my wife and I will maybe do alone. That’s kind of the pipedream one for me, and we’ll see if I can swing that. I would love to give that experience to the kids as well.
Guerra: If you get the house for everyone in Europe, I’m sure they’ll all come and take advantage of your hospitality. J
Lundal: Yes, but where in Europe? I’m worried sometimes that I’ll end up getting a house that’s completely in the middle of nowhere, it’s in a bad neighborhood or something like that. It takes more planning than I’ve had time to do. But that would be nice.
Guerra: I’m picturing some lake in Italy where you’ll be next to where George Clooney hangs out. J
That’s about all I had for you, Dave; is there anything else you want to touch on before I let you go?
Lundal: No. I think it’s exciting times in healthcare and it’s especially exciting times in healthcare IT. I think we’ll do some great things, and I’m really proud to be part of it.
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