Forget everything you ever learned about plagiarism. Not only is it no longer being condemned; it’s being encouraged by Russell Branzell, president and CEO of CHIME, who believes sharing and stealing ideas “as quickly as we can” is essential to the survival of CIOs. In this interview, Branzell speaks candidly about a number of topics affecting CIOs, including the midpoint of Meaningful Use, which he believes is the perfect opportunity to look at the program in its entirety. He also talks about the work CHIME is doing to make sure its offerings meet the evolving needs of its membership; what the CIO 3.0 might look like; his thoughts on the direction of the industry; and what CIOs will be buzzing about at HIMSS15.
- Redesigning & minimizing — “We moved to more of a social media platform.”
- CHIME/HIMSS Forum: CIO 3.0
- Charting a course for “becoming a better leader.”
- “We’re in the era of blatant plagiarism.”
- The evolving role of the CIO
- Innovation over new gadgets — “Change the world with what you already have.”
- Time for collaboration
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The traditional world of the CIO that I spent so many years in has really changed. Most CIOs are involved much more in a strategic environment. They’re trying to spend time developing their next level.
We’re entering into the era of what I like to refer to as ‘blatant plagiarism,’ where our goal is to share as fast as we can and steal from each other as quickly as we can, instead of always innovating locally. Our goal is to try to get that out to the members.
It’s so different than it was even three or four years ago, never mind 10 years ago, which means given the shrinking of the process of change and how fast it happens, our members in the industry have to be ready for something totally new in five years.
There’s going to be mergers and acquisitions. There’s going to be changes in process. There’s going to be consolidated services. There are some trends that are occurring that seem to come in waves and are not just constantly pegged up in growth. Our members are looking how to deal with this; how to work in this environment.
Gamble: I wanted to talk now about some of the things that CHIME is doing. As far as myCHIME and some of the new features or changes to that, can you just talk a little bit about it to our readers about how they can be using this tool?
Branzell: One of the things we’re trying to do right now is create an opportunity to refresh everything we do. We exist for one reason and that’s to serve our members, both our HIT professionals, as well as our foundation members. We serve to make their life a little bit easier. Or, as I have been saying most of the time with the CIOs, a little less difficult, because I don’t know if there’s any part of being a CIO or being a foundation member at this point in our industry that is easy, so maybe a little less difficult.
Part of that is just refreshing the world in which they get to work in and interact with each other and interact with our organization. Part of that was a ground-up redesign of our website and actually minimizing our website, because how many of us really go to websites that much anymore? What we wanted to do was create a website that serves as a conduit to more of what most of us deal with in our life, and that is the mobility and social environment we work in.
So we’ve done a pretty significant refresh of both our social environment. We partner with NextWave Connect on myCHIME, which we used to be a web-based platform, and we moved to more of a social media platform, and we’ve just recently updated that again to provide a lot more opportunity for interaction, networking with peers, expressing concerns — just living your daily life in a networked world, like we do on many other social media platforms.
I very rarely grab my phone and say I want to go to a website, but I’ll see all my apps with little numbers next to them that say there’s something going on and I’ll tap on those real quick just to see what’s happening. That’s what we’re trying to do is get integrated into the natural DNA of the flow and try to figure how we can help solve some problems, or at least connect the right people to solve those problems. And we’re fortunate with both the partners that we have, as well as our staff really focusing and getting the input from our members to make sure meeting their needs.
Gamble: I’m going to guess that in this world you have to be constantly evolving to meet those needs.
Gamble: And CHIME’s own site, I noticed, has undergone some changes. I imagine a lot of that is just making it easier for people to find what they need to find.
Branzell: The traditional world of the CIO that I spent so many years in has really changed. Most CIOs are involved much more in a strategic environment. They’re trying to spend time developing their next level, which was one of the reasons we launched the three new associations last year for Chief Technology Officers, Chief Security Officers, and Chief Application Officers. They even now have their own websites and will have their own events this year, and so just the development of what we affectionately refer to as the C-suite of the CIO is now a new emerging trend where there’s so many different things going on, and we need to connect all of that world, provide education, provide networking, provide opportunities to collaborate. One of our goals is to create this whole continuum where people can work together.
Gamble: Okay. So there’s a little event coming up soon in Chicago. Specifically with the CHIME/HIMSS forum, I wanted to talk about what CIOs can expect from that without of course revealing too much. One thing I noticed right away was having CIO speakers for one of the keynotes, and that’s something I’m really looking forward to — who doesn’t want to hear from some of these really smart CIOs who have been doing this for a while. I wanted to talk a little bit about that and what else people can expect from the upcoming forum.
Branzell: One of the themes that we launched this entire year was around this concept of taking leaders to the next level and helping them in that journey. If the last 10 years was going from CIO 1.0 to CIO 2.0, what does the Health IT CIO 3.0 look like in the future? Do we know the answer completely? No. We know where some of the direction is going though. We’ve actually got teams working right now collaboratively to define that next 3.0 world, and which is what the theme of this spring event is — how to take the leaders to the next level and how to chart your course for you becoming a better leader. And so one of those is, where are your peers? Or in this case, where are the people you should be following?
We’ve asked several of our CIOs who are well on their way, if not there, to being truly 3.0 leaders, which is probably a rarity, to get up there and do what you see in other events. You can compare it to something like a TEDMED or some of these other events where you see quick snippets of excellence that you can take away as quickly as you can learn from those.
I think what we’re seeing at this point is not only do we want outside expertise, but we want inside expertise in learning and sharing with each other. I think we’re entering into the era of what I like to refer to as ‘blatant plagiarism,’ where our goal is to share as fast as we can and steal from each other as quickly as we can, instead of always innovating locally. Our goal is to try to get that out to the members. All of our speakers will complement that, and all the events we’ll be doing during the week will actually complement that process of getting people to the next level.
Gamble: It certainly makes sense. Nobody has time to reinvent the wheel anyway.
Branzell: As an example, one of our speakers is Michael Earl; I think this may even be his third time that he’s come to CHIME to speak. He’s been studying the role of the CIO for decades now and has said as he’s coming to speak that it’s so different than it was even three or four years ago, never mind 10 years ago, which means given the shrinking of the process of change and how fast it happens, our members in the industry have to be ready for something totally new in five years for what they look like today.
Gamble: Daunting, but very true. Now I’m going to ask you to put your fortune teller hat on — what do you think are going to be some of the biggest topics of discussion among CIOs at HIMSS? I would imagine that security is one of them because it always is a concern anyway, but with some of the breaches that have happened recently making national headlines, it’s something that is certainly going to be on everyone’s mind.
Branzell: Well, I think you’re right. I think there will be a thread of this that’s going to be very focused on reaction or awareness of what’s occurring in the security portion of our industry, where we generally are still behind, and vulnerabilities are occurring and breaches are occurring. I know that will be a point of attention. What I am hearing from a lot of CIOs though is an interesting point, and that is they’re trying to move not only themselves but the organization to that next level — way out of adoption and really into the world of optimization and outcomes realization, whether they’re getting ready for population health or they’re getting ready to be part of a community ACO or just trying to transform that organization to a new model. They’re trying to get their team, themselves, and their organization to a new level. I think they’re going to be looking for examples of that — not necessarily tools meaning software or hardware, but more conceptually, frameworks that help them launch this whole new level.
The other thing that’s starting to become somewhat of a trend is to minimize the technology part of this and to optimize the process. I think that’s something we’re starting to see a lot more of, which is don’t spend all your time putting in new gidgets and gadgets and trying to innovate with it, but rather use what you’ve got and change the world with what you already have. I think a lot of our members are starting to spend a lot more time on that, especially as we see budgets probably over the next few years starting to shrink a little bit, or at least flattening out, compared to what we’ve been able to get over last 5 or 10 years. They’re going to have to spend a lot of time doing new and innovative things with what they’ve already got. Like you said, if you look at some of the CIO speakers that are there, that’s exactly what they’ve been doing for years, which is massive innovation with the tools they already have.
Gamble: It’s just a smart way to do things and it’s becoming more and more necessary, as we’re seeing that budgets aren’t always what we’d like them to be. You have to be smart and say, how can we use these tools better? I’m sure that that will definitely be a big topic of discussion.
Branzell: You mentioned one in one of your previous questions, and that was the state of the industry as a whole. There’s going to be mergers and acquisitions. There’s going to be changes in process. There’s going to be consolidated services. There are some trends that are occurring that seem to come in waves and are not just constantly pegged up in growth. Our members are looking how to deal with this; how to work in this environment. It actually doesn’t decrease work in this process — for at least the short-term, with that being probably three to five years, it actually increases the work. Because so many systems are being consolidated, both from a physical perspective meaning the actual health systems, but also computer systems are being consolidated, which is a massive amount of work. And so I think people are looking for answers to that, as well as what this might look like in the next five years.
Gamble: It should be a lot of great discussion. It’s a great opportunity for CIOs to do this in person, and then also good a reminder to use social media and other tools out there and come out and ask everyone else, ‘how are you doing this?’ It seems like CIOs are really pretty willing to share their experiences.
Branzell: I think we’ve had a really good run of being to do a lot of this in both isolation and in collaboration, but to be successful moving forward, we’re going to have to lean on each other greatly to be able to be successful.
Gamble: Absolutely. Alright, I think that’s a nice snapshot of a lot of things. I’m really looking forward to seeing you guys in Chicago and catching up.
Branzell: Us as well. As always, we thank you for what you do, just spreading all the good word and all the good work that everybody’s doing. Thank you for everything you do to help contribute to all the hard work.
Gamble: Thanks. It’s great to talk with you. We’ll get to catch up in person soon. I’m looking forward to it.
Branzell: Thank you very much.