When Joel Taylor sees people who are out of place and talking to someone in a completely different role, he doesn’t mind at all. In fact, he finds it to be inspiring, because it shows people are curious and willing to step out of their comfort zones. In this interview, the CIO at CarePoint Health System talks about what his team is doing to create growth opportunities in IT to make sure they’re able to retain top talent. He also discusses the multi-phased coordinated care initiative at his organization, the challenges in engaging with elderly patients, the power of organic mentoring how his team is working through data sharing hurdles with acquired physician practices, and how he’s working to make innovation part of the overall strategy, and not just “the next toy.”
- 3 steps to coordinated care
- Attesting to MU 2
- Engaging with elderly patients — “It’s a struggle.”
- Waiting on HIEs and ACOs — “There are a lot of decisions to be made before going down that path.”
- IT staff of 130
- Leadership strategy – “Hire the right people.”
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We do have some strategies on front-end technologies that will provide a portal to our patients that’s product agnostic, so kind of a single portal for them to look at even though data’s coming from different sources.
They have their hands into every corner, every dark table in our databases, and are reporting information that we’re using to drive our business, from coordinated care to marketing to our revenue capture.
For an organization that’s only a couple of years old, there are some ducks that need to get in a row. It’s not the kind of thing you want to get involved in until you know you can do it really well.
If you’re micromanaging, you’re telling your team you don’t trust them. I think you have to hire the right people, you have to trust them, and you have to hold them accountable for executing their duties.
Gamble: The whole idea of coordinated care is really important for your organization and a big initiative. Can you just talk a little bit about the work being done there as far as establishing the whole care continuum for the patient?
Taylor: Certainly getting our EMR installed in the medical practices is the number one piece to this. From there, interfacing that with our hospital EMR so that information can be shared back and forth as patients utilize different components of our system.
And then stage three will actually be integrating with our affiliated physicians, physicians that are admitting but are not employed, and being able to set up an HIE-type of environment with them so that it’s easier for them to bring their patients to our hospitals and care for their patients through our system.
Gamble: When you talk about the integration team, is that a department within IT or is it kind of separate?
Taylor: It’s part of the field services team we have here. It’s the same group of people that provide the end-user support. We don’t want to have a separate group of people; we try to limit the handoffs.
Gamble: Right. When you talk about everything you’re doing to facilitate data exchange, that’s a big part of the Meaningful Use requirements. I want to just talk about where you stand in general with Meaningful Use and how you’re positioned.
Taylor: We’re moving forward with varying levels of Meaningful Use attestation at our hospitals. We’re doing the same with our physician practices. Many of them are stage 1/stage 2 already with existing products, and we will continue that forward with eClinicalWorks. It’s certainly a strategy that’s important to us.
Gamble: Have you attested to stage 2 in the hospitals?
Taylor: We have. We have two hospitals at stage 2, one hospital at stage 1.
Gamble: As far as the patient engagement piece, what’s your strategy there? Do you have a portal that you’re using at this point?
Taylor: We do. We utilize Meditech’s portal. We will be utilizing eClinicalWorks’ portal and we do have some strategies on front-end technologies that will provide a portal to our patients that’s product agnostic, so kind of a single portal for them to look at even though data’s coming from different sources.
Gamble: How has the traction been on the acute side with the Meditech portal?
Taylor: I think it’s interesting, we have a very interesting demographic here in Hudson County that has a tremendous amount of elderly patients. So obviously their interest in accessing the information from their health record and using a computer in general just doesn’t exist. Quite frankly, most of them don’t even have email addresses, which obviously makes signing up for our portal somewhat difficult.
So we do help them understand how this gives them a vehicle to bring information to their other physicians when they’re asked questions about what happened when you were in the hospital, what were you doing, why were you there, what were your treatments — these types of things they often can’t remember. This is a tool that they can easily pull up and then share that information without having to make a formal document request and whatnot.
Gamble: Right. I guess that the caregivers as well would be getting involved with that?
Taylor: Yeah, but it’s a struggle because of our demographic here.
Gamble: Okay, looking at data management and actually looking ahead to analytics, is that something that you’re doing at this point? I know that it always depends on where you stand with EHR integration and how everything’s going, but what do you foresee being able to do with analytics?
Taylor: We have a business intelligence team in IT and they’re very integrated in many aspects of our business. I tend to not like to talk about some of the stuff that they’re looking at because that is market stuff that we wouldn’t necessarily want our competitors to know that we do. But they have their hands into every corner, every dark table in our databases, and are reporting information that we’re using to drive our business, from coordinated care to marketing to our revenue capture.
Gamble: In terms of state HIEs, are you participating in one at this point?
Taylor: We’re not.
Gamble: Is it something that you have plans to do or is it not really on the table yet?
Taylor: Well, maybe. I don’t want to speak poorly about the existing HIEs. Should an HIE in New Jersey mature or come anew that has the capabilities that are valuable to your patients, yes. But to just be connected to an HIE for the sake of connecting to an HIE is not our business.
Gamble: And then what about accountable care organizations — is that something you’re looking at?
Taylor: There’s potential.
Gamble: Right. Depending on a couple of different factors or just being able to build the business case?
Taylor: Yeah, there are a lot of decisions to be made before going down that path. And I think for an organization that’s only a couple of years old, there are some ducks that need to get in a row. It’s not the kind of thing you want to get involved in until you know you can do it really well.
Gamble: In terms of the IT staff, approximately what size do you have?
Taylor: We’re a 130-employee team.
Gamble: That’s a pretty decent-sized staff. Can you talk a little bit about your leadership strategy as far as staying in communication when you have a group of that size?
Taylor: We have the team, it is segregated into functional units. Each one of those functional units has a leader. Those leaders report to me, so we do that. We also have a project management office that kind of keeps everything on track and keeps everything flowing smoothly. We have a good alerting mechanism here for when projects are going south and what we need to do for corrective action, that type of thing. It works well. My leadership style is hire the right people. It’s that simple.
Gamble: There was something I saw on your LinkedIn page. It was a recommendation from a former colleague who said about you, ‘He keeps his hands on the pulse of the daily workload, but does not micromanage the staff. He allows the staff to grow and provides them with education as needed.’ To me that’s really interesting, the idea of managing without micromanaging, because we’ve all seen the cautionary tales about that. Any thoughts on what it takes to let people do their jobs without getting too involved?
Taylor: If you’re micromanaging, you’re telling your team you don’t trust them. I think you have to hire the right people, you have to trust them, and you have to hold them accountable for executing their duties. And as long as they understand that’s how it’s going to go down and they understand that you are there to support them and you will protect them when it’s necessary and appropriate, things flow very well.
When people on your team see a career path, it’s often a problem in IT shops. You have people that sit on the helpdesk forever, and the only way to change a career is to leave. We don’t do that here. People see what the teams do. They see all the different roles. There’s a whole slew of different positions here, and so our entry level people that are on the helpdesk and the switchboards and whatnot can say, ‘Hey, I think I would be interested in doing something,’ and then they get pulled in. They get involved and engaged. They can see if this is something they want to pursue, and if they do, they can pursue it to the point of next time a position is available, they have an opportunity to move into that role.
It gives the people that have helpdesk jobs, which are miserable positions, a way to see the end. It retains talent, and you have people that know our facilities, know our end users, have relationships, and as they move, they’re predetermined for success.