Being CIO of a two-hospital system within the massive Catholic Healthcare East superstructure presents opportunities and challenges for CIO Maureen Hetu. On the upside, her facilities are able to afford advanced technologies they would never have been able to obtain on their own, while, on the challenge side of the equation, dotted-line governance and having “multiple” bosses means going out of one’s way to keep everyone informed. But those are challenges she’s taking in stride as Hetu works to deepen the usage of Siemens Soarian clinicals at her hospitals. To learn more about her HIT journey, healthsystemCIO.com recently caught up with the long-time executive.
- Staff management
- Growing from within
- Siemens as a partner
- Hetu’s future
- Having a work/life balance
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… we tend to see the shortages in the integration resources, so the more technically-oriented resources to develop interfaces. They are so much in demand at this point.
I’m not someone who is happy just supporting the status quo. So I’m happy here as long as there continues to be challenges.
I love what I do. I don’t think you can do this work and not love what you do. It is way too demanding and stressful.
Guerra: Let’s talk a little bit about staff management and leadership issues. Tell me about your IT team. How many people do you have on the team?
Hetu: Here, locally, I have about 23 FTEs on the IT team supporting these hospitals. I believe that Lourdes Medical Associates has two supporting their practices. So they tend to run pretty decently. Obviously there’s a significant staff at Catholic Health East and, within the system office, that provides all the application support for Soarian and most of the major clinical and financial systems, also the technology of the wide area network and local area network infrastructure.
Guerra: So if you weren’t part of CHE, your team would need to be much larger?
Guerra: Double? I’m just curious.
Hetu: I will tell you that probably five or six years ago, before CHE started actively centralizing the IT function, my staff at its peak reached about 45.
Hetu: 45 FTEs. And even at that point, I was not supporting or building within Siemens Invision. So without having CHE taking those major functions, I would need to have to support two hospitals. I would have been looking at a much larger IT staff.
Guerra: Right. So what do the people you currently have focus on?
Hetu: I have a corporate director that provides oversight and leadership and organization around the IT function. Three project managers, so we have a formal project management methodology, and have had since I came on board 12 years ago. I have a physician liaison, so someone to help especially with the deployment of CPOE and physician documentation, development of the order sets. So that person works very closely with the CMIO and the CMO. Five applications analysts, so they are more business analysts, they don’t actually build any of the functionality within Siemens or any of the other products, but facilitate the collection of use requirements, put together project teams on any of the smaller projects and testing, training, etc. Then a couple of FTEs as network administrators to help with support of the local network infrastructure and balance our desktop checks. I have one IS educator.
Guerra: Have you seen a talent shortage. If so, for what type of folks?
Hetu: I haven’t seen a talent shortage. When I hear it globally within the industry, that’s typically what you hear — application specific folks. We’ve been fortunate that we’ve actually grown a significant pool of talent from a clinical perspective. The people who are managing our clinical apps typically grow up in the clinical function. So we have a couple of nurse analysts who support Soarian. One of them has been involved since the original deployment of Invision back in 2000.
Within Catholic Health East, we tend to see the shortages in the integration resources, so the more technically-oriented resources to develop interfaces. They are so much in demand at this point.
Guerra: I guess you’re not too far from Malvern, I don’t know if that helps.
Hetu: Yes, that always helps. We’ve been fortunate. We haven’t been very reliant on Siemens resources, other than obviously during the Soarian implementation itself, we did outsource some portions of the development to Siemens and then there was a Siemens project manager who worked with the local and system office project managers. But we’ve been fortunate that CHE has been able to either recruit and/or retain a lot of talent. So we weren’t overly dependent on consultants to get through the implementations.
Guerra: Do you feel like Siemens has been a good partner?
Hetu: I do. I dealt with Siemens in my early days. I was actually at Mercy Health System in the Philadelphia area for years. So I had dealt with Siemens there. I found them to be responsive. They’ve been engaged. I know that, obviously, you have difficulty at times with every vendor. It doesn’t seem like anyone always gets it right all the time. But they’ve come to the table. They’re willing to negotiate. They’re willing to deal with issues. They take responsibility.
Guerra: Good, very good. Now, what’s your career path look like from here? You’ve been there 12 years but you’re at the top in terms of IT at Lourdes. Of course, there’s other systems. There’s also the hierarchy of CHE. What do you think would be your next challenge? Or you’re good there 12 years, you’ll do another 12?
Hetu: I do not think it’s the latter. I’m not someone who is happy just supporting the status quo. So I’m happy here as long as there continues to be challenges. We’ve got a lot of deployments going on, but eventually even that gets old. I haven’t actually been able to determine yet what the next move might be. I love being at Lourdes. It’s a great place to work. The people are wonderful. The mission is very rewarding. They depend on technology and understand its potential. So there’s always a tremendous amount of support, which is a great place to be as a CIO.
I have an opportunity here that, because I’ve been around for so long, I have my hands in a lot of other things outside of IT, so I manage the clinical ancillaries – not that I manage them directly, but I have responsibility for the clinical ancillary departments. I get involved in a lot of management of significant strategic initiatives because, from an IT standpoint, we tend to have more of the sophisticated project management skills. So I have an opportunity to touch a lot of things. But eventually I’m sure that, if another opportunity is meant to be, it’ll come along. It could be at the system office, who knows?
Guerra: There should be no shortage of opportunities with a big clinical IT implementation under your belt. That seems like a good skill set to have for the next 10 years.
Hetu: Definitely. Although I’m happy, I’m not seeing any moves imminently and, obviously, I’m going to say that because you’re going to broadcast this. J
Guerra: That’s right.
Hetu: I am very happy here. But I still have a couple of decades ahead of me from a career standpoint. So will I remain in the same position forever? I doubt it.
Guerra: So you’re not one of these people dreaming of retirement?
Hetu: No, no, no, no. I love what I do. I don’t think you can do this work and not love what you do. It is way too demanding and stressful.
Guerra: Right. Are you able to shut it off at the end of the day or is it hard?
Hetu: Yes, I am. I have two children at this point who are grown. I have a grandchild.
Hetu: Your family helps you put things in perspective. I work long hours but, when I do leave here, I leave. If I need to take care of something at home, I do that, and then I shut it off. But sometimes it’s scary because I do the opposite too; when I walk in the door to work, it’s almost like I’m only here. I don’t remember to deal with the family things until I walk out. You’re so focused sometimes that it’s scary.
Guerra: I would imagine your family has gotten used to that over the years — Don’t call mom or grandma at the office.
Hetu: Yes, it’s very rare. J
Guerra: They don’t call up just to chat.
Hetu: No, no, no. Even my husband at this point, can’t say that he calls to chat.
Guerra: He knows better.
Hetu: He’s used to the response ‘I’m in a meeting, can I call you back in half an hour.’
Hetu: So I spend my life in meetings.
Guerra: How old is your grandchild?
Hetu: My grandchild is 18 months.
Guerra: Wow. I have an 18-month-old son and a 3 year old. J
Hetu: You have your hands full at this point.
Guerra: Oh yeah.
Hetu: I love that age though, both of them. They actually are turning into little people, especially with the 3 year old because they can talk.
Guerra: But remember, it’s more fun as a grandparent because you get to go home and go to sleep. J J
Hetu: That is true. I can give them back
Guerra: Yeah. Every few hours at night, I get a little one trotting in my room saying, “Daddy, I’m afraid of monsters.”
Hetu: But that’s fun.
Guerra: I know. I know. I know.
Hetu: Believe me, you wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
Guerra: I know. It’s one of those things that’s painful when you’re in it, but you know you’ll miss it.
Hetu: Right. The other fun of being a grandparent is that I don’t have to be the disciplinarian anymore. That’s a great thing.
Guerra: My wife says that about me. She thinks I get out of being the disciplinarian. She calls me a “Disneyland daddy.” Have you heard this term?
Hetu: No. What’s a Disneyland daddy?
Guerra: Everyday’s Disneyland when you’re with Daddy. There’s no rules, which is not totally true. It’s a little exaggerated.
Hetu: Just a little.
Guerra: I don’t know. It’s hard to be tough with those little ones.
Hetu: I know. They’re just so darn cute.