I’ve been at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for 17 years this week. I’m sometimes asked why BIDMC has been, and will continue to be, my long-term career home.
The answer is simple — it’s a foundation for what matters.
1. Colleagues matter
Loyalty to my staff is the number one reason I stay at BIDMC. Together we’ve shared the network outage of 2002, security challenges, first-in-the-country Meaningful Use attestation, hundreds of innovative application go-lives, and the creation of a world-class cloud computing infrastructure. The average tenure of IS people at BIDMC is 17 years. Many have been here more than 30 years. Turnover is never more than 10 percent per year across all IS divisions.
2. Mentoring matters
The real-world experience of operating large-scale applications and infrastructure at BIDMC enables me to share lessons learned with students and professionals all over the world. Whether I’m doing a Harvard Business School case study, helping a government in Asia, or empowering young investigators by connecting them to collaborators, it is my experience at BIDMC building and buying technology that gives me a broad base of successes and failures to share.
3. Patients and providers matter
Creating technology for technology’s sake is not as impactful as using technologies to achieve policy goals. BIDMC is a learning laboratory with 250,000 active patients, 3,000 doctors, and 2 million patient records. Every day we can iteratively improve quality, safety, and efficiency by listening to our stakeholders and testing new technologies in production environments.
4. Innovation matters
BIDMC has a unique blend of built and bought technologies that enable us to control our own destiny. If a new Meaningful Use idea needs to be piloted, a new technology investigated, or a new workflow trialed, we can move with agility, often without dependency on vendors. When a vendor wants to accelerate innovation by testing new technologies, we can be a development partner. Many commercial infrastructure and application products had their start at BIDMC.
5. Culture matters
For 30 years, BIDMC has had an impatience with the status quo. The complaints we hear from our stakeholders often relate to problems that other organizations have not yet thought about. There is never time to rest on our laurels. At times it seems that memories of our successes fade quickly, but the culture of impatience ensures we get rapid adoption of whatever new features we introduce.
While on the plane back from Osaka on Friday, I spoke with a gentleman who has worked for many companies throughout his career. At this point, he’s decided that he needs a company of the right size, right leadership, and right structure to empower problem solving. He has no tolerance for people and organizations that impede progress. For me, BIDMC has all the characteristics which are foundational to a satisfying career.
As I reflect on my time in Japan, my most influential moments were those I spent teaching, talking with colleagues, listening to others’ experiences, connecting people for collaboration, and sharing meals. BIDMC provides me a base of operations that enables these international experiences, national committee membership, and regional cross institutional cooperation.
Life is complex, budgets are limited, and people are diverse. Our careers will have their frustrations when there is competition for resources, ever-increasing regulatory pressure, and accelerating change. However, if you have great colleagues, remarkable students, a learning lab, a capacity to innovate, and a supportive culture, you have all the ingredients you need for a career home where you can make a difference. That’s what matters.