We’ve all heard the adage “culture is king,” and perhaps nowhere is that truer than in healthcare IT, where organizations have been asked to absorb a significant amount of change in a short time, without missing a beat. Smart leaders have learned that if they want to move their organizations forward, they must have the right pieces — and the right culture — in place. For Renown Health, a locally-governed, not-for-profit network located in Reno, Nevada, that meant establishing a new philosophy; one where employees were empowered to make contributions and allowed to make mistakes, and one where leaders were transparent about the direction of the organization.
Although it wasn’t an easy change to make, it has been well worth it, says Mike Magera, VP of Enterprise Infrastructure, who says staff satisfaction has increased and there’s a high level of trust, which helped set the stage for a number of initiatives that will help propel Renown into the future. In this interview, he talks about his top three priorities from an infrastructure standpoint, the challenge in selling users on cloud technology, how his team is partnering with Secure-24 to ensure reliability and improve care quality, why he made the move from the gaming industry to healthcare, and what he finds most rewarding about his job.
- Managed services with Secure-24
- Selling the team on outsourcing – “It’s been hard for them to give up control.”
- New opportunities for IT
- “Our team cares very much about the patient experience.”
- 17 years in the gaming industry
- Coming to Renown: “It was an opportunity to give back.”
- Best part of the job – “Helping physicians improve processes”
We’re working through that with the network and server teams. We’re meeting with them frequently and helping them understand where they want to be in terms of their careers, and the opportunities that they have within IT, because IT is changing. We’re building a security team. We have opportunities on the application side of the house.
Our team cares very much about the patient experience and about the reputation of IT, so it’s been hard for them to give up the control. And that’s something we don’t want to lose. We don’t want to lose the care they have for the patient or for IT’s reputation; we want to keep that while moving forward into a managed services environment.
It was also an opportunity to give back to the community and make sure that healthcare is as good as it can be, and that we have the right infrastructure to keep the systems up and running. When we’re able to do that, we’re really impacting patients and helping to save lives.
I still find myself scratching my head and thinking about why we do things certain ways and why healthcare is behind the times compared to other industries. It’s difficult to understand that when you’re on the other side.
Gamble: What are you doing at this point in terms of managed services?
Mike: We’re using managed services for the infrastructure that’s in our data centers, for our service desk, and for the new telephone system we’re putting in place. We’re working with Secure-24 to manage cloud and clinical help desk services and ensure a high level of reliability. It’s been a good partnership.
Gamble: There’s still seeing some hesitation when it comes to managed services. Did you find it to be a tough sell to the users?
Magera: It was, and it’s still something I’m living every day. The outsourcing of the service desk is something [CIO] Ron Fuschillo and I discussed a lot. We had a service desk at Renown, but to get us from where we were to where we needed to be would have taken years, and so we made the decision to outsource.
In the past, I was probably a little too forward in announcing that at an all-hands IT meeting, and that didn’t go over very well. So this time around, when we were talking about managed services for our data centers and the equipment in the data centers, which impacts our server and network teams, I decided I would pull them together and have a conversation; tell a story about the changes that happened in my career over time. I wanted to take a different approach — the opposite approach to what I did with the service desk, but it still didn’t go over well.
I guess the moral of the story is no matter how you approach it, there’s still that human element that doesn’t want to hear what you’re telling them. And so we’re working through that with the network and server teams. We’re meeting with them frequently and helping them understand where they want to be in terms of their careers, and the opportunities that they have within IT, because IT is changing. We’re building a security team. We have opportunities on the application side of the house. Through our partnership with Secure-24, we have people in managed services who are pulling the levers and turning the knobs, and that provides our IT employees with an opportunity to become an architect or an analyst. It’s helped them to hone their skills and better focus on things like applications. But in all honestly, it’s hasn’t been easy to get them to understand that; that it’s a career-building opportunity.
Gamble: So it seems you’re still dealing with a perception issue where it’s difficult for some of the people in IT to change their thinking of what ‘managed services’ means for them, and see the opportunities that will be available down the road.
Magera: It’s been bumpy. The thing is, our team cares very much about the patient experience and about the reputation of IT, so it’s been hard for them to give up the control. And that’s something we don’t want to lose. We don’t want to lose the care they have for the patient or for IT’s reputation; we want to keep that while moving forward into a managed services environment.
Gamble: Very interesting. Now, in terms of your career, this is your first foray into healthcare, correct?
Magera: Yes. Prior to this, I was with International Game Technology for more than 17 years. IGT is the world’s leading manufacturer of slot machines and lottery games.
Gamble: Obviously a very different world. What made you interested in coming to healthcare?
Magera: I was looking for a change, and I’ve always enjoyed a challenge. And in talking to Ron, I knew there was definitely a challenge here at Renown. It was also an opportunity to give back to the community and make sure that healthcare is as good as it can be, and that we have the right infrastructure to keep the systems up and running. When we’re able to do that, we’re really impacting patients and helping to save lives. It’s pretty different from the gaming industry where you’re just trying to make money.
Gamble: Being in that industry for so long, I’m sure you gained some valuable experience. How have you been able to draw from that in your current role?
Magera: Definitely. At IGT I was responsible for global systems operations. We had SAP as our ERP system, and I was responsible for making sure that was deployed in common processes worldwide — we operated on six of the seven continents.
So from that aspect, I understood the benefits of having standardized systems. I understood what it means to have a technically current infrastructure, to have collaboration tools, and to be able to work with teams. Those are the biggest things that I brought with me.
Gamble: I can imagine it’s been helpful for the other leaders to have someone with that outside experience and perspective, because I’m sure it’s easy to get stuck our own world and get stuck in the mentality that ‘this is how we’ve always done things.’
Magera: It is. I still find myself scratching my head and thinking about why we do things certain ways and why healthcare is behind the times compared to other industries. It’s difficult to understand that when you’re on the other side.
When I first came here, one of my first jobs was to roll out laptops to the employees. At that time, Renown didn’t provide them — people were bringing their own laptops and connecting to the network. They had to use GoToMyPC to log in from home, which is a very old technology. Now, we provide laptops. That’s just one example where someone from the outside can see right away that it needs to change.
Gamble: Now that you’re two years in, do you feel like you made the right move?
Magera: Yes, definitely. I don’t look back. I just need to get through the three major projects, then I’ll have some time to think about the future and figure out what else we can do — what else we can improve. We have a long list of priorities, so now it’s deciding what to focus on next.
Gamble: What do you enjoy most about being with Renown?
Magera: Some of the most rewarding things have been helping the physicians and clinicians improve their processes, and getting them the right equipment. For example, after I was here about six months or so, one of the ER docs contacted me and said, ‘hey, our computers are really slow.’ So I took a team to the ER and we saw nurses and doctors banging microphones against the desk because they weren’t working — at least, that’s what they thought. It turned out it wasn’t the microphone; the PCs they were using were outdated. They needed to be refreshed, and so we refreshed all the PCs in the ER so that they could operate as they should. It was very satisfying to be able to fix that. Those are the kinds of things that keep me going.
Gamble: I’m sure. Well, I want to thank you so much for taking some time to share your story. Renown is doing some very cool work, and it’s been great to hear about it.
Magera: Thank you.
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