In the fall of 2021, it was all about Covid – and the CHIME21 Forum was no exception. At the event, attendees were excited (and understandably nervous) to gather together and share ideas. Now, with another year under their belts, healthcare leaders have moved past the initial challenges of the lockdown phase and are focusing on some of the “residual effects” such as staff shortages, increased cybersecurity attacks, and burnout, according to Tanya Townsend.
With that in mind, the timing couldn’t be better for CHIME22, which takes place Nov. 7-10 at JW Marriott Hill Country Resort & Spa in San Antonio, Texas. The event will offer the track sessions, focus groups and networking opportunities that have made CHIME “so instrumental to the healthcare digital community,” said Townsend, current CHIME Board Chair and SVP/CIO at LCMC Health.
During a recent interview, she talked about what attendees can expect at the event — during which CHIME will celebrate its 30th anniversary; how the organization strives to stay true to its roots while evolving to serve the needs of members; and what she enjoyed most about her team as Board Chair.
Q&A with Tanya Townsend, SVP & CIO, LCMC Health, and CHIME Board Chair
CHIME’s key areas of focus
In recent years, we’ve really expanded our membership. And so, we’re going to have topics for everyone, both on the foundation side and the provider side, covering everything from care delivery to leadership development to diversity and inclusion, and even public policy.
In terms of some of the challenges we’re working through post-pandemic, we’re all facing a talent war, because everything moved to virtual. And so, we’re all still trying to figure out the right blend of virtual versus remote, especially when it comes to building culture.
We’re continuing to work through that, while also competing for resources, even on the non-IT side: how do we as healthcare IT leaders help address burnout among clinicians. They’re facing the same challenges around finding resources and retaining. How can we be innovative in that space?
And then there’s cybersecurity, which unfortunately isn’t going away. We saw a lot of activity during the pandemic, and they’re only getting smarter. How do we continue to manage that risk, or avoid it?
Finally, it’s managing expenses post-pandemic. Inflation is skyrocketing and revenue isn’t changing. How do we, as healthcare leaders, help address those competing priorities?
Recruiting & retention challenges within IT
You need a good work culture, even if it is a remote workforce. It’s also the tactical logistics of recruiting and doing the HR pieces and parts to make sure you’re following all the rules and regulations for out-of-state employees.
And because there’s the ability to recruit from anywhere, the challenge is not only how do you recruit, but then how do you retain so you’re not losing folks.
Celebrating CHIME’s 30th anniversary
This year, in addition to track sessions, focus groups and networking opportunities, we’re celebrating our 30th anniversary — it’s hard to believe. This organization has been so instrumental to the healthcare digital community since it started back in 1992. And so, we’re going to do a lot of celebrating and we’re going to recognize those who paved the way for us, including the founding members who had the vision to put this together.
Focusing on diversity on CHIME22
We’re doing a few things. There’s a specific track around diversity and inclusion, which will be a great opportunity to network and learn what others are doing. It’s important because as an industry and as individual organizations, we want to continue to understand the challenges that exist, and make sure we’re representing our communities.
We’ll also have sessions focused on helping women advance their careers in what has traditionally been a male-dominated field. [‘CHIME Diversity – League of Women’ will be held Tuesday, 11/8 at 1:15 pm, and ‘Women in Healthcare IT: Cultivating Women to Lean into Leadership,’ during which Townsend will serve on the panel, takes place the same day at 3:30 pm].
Making the most of the event
Whether it’s your first time or your 20th time, there really is something for everybody. But if it is your first Forum, I urge you to take it all in. There are different tracks for security, technology, applications — there’s something for everyone. And now we have the CHIME University Master’s program if you want to continue your education.
There are so many opportunities to network and participate in focus groups — not just at the Fall Forum, but afterwards as well. There are opportunities to get involved, be engaged, and help set the direction for our future.
We’re also holding events to benefit local charities, including the Golf Tournament [which will benefit First Tee San Antonio] and our Giving Back Event, PaintFest [which will benefit “The MAC,” a Multi-Assistance Center at Morgan’s Wonderland]. It’s a great opportunity to give back to the San Antonio community.
Serving as CHIME Board Chair
It’s really been exciting for me. I’m honored to be trusted with this important role, particularly as we had to manage through a pandemic, and now come out of it. I always give a shout-out to John Kravitz, the prior Board Chair, because he had a two-year stint because (due to Covid). And so, although we continued to stay strong as a board and come together, it was difficult trying to do that virtually. We made it happen, but we certainly had to pivot. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished as a board, and I’m excited about what the future holds for the incoming board members.
What’s been most exciting for me during my tenure was to see all the advancements happen. In 2019, my first year on the board, we established CHIME 3.0. I don’t think I fully realized at first what they meant. And so, we as a board got together and talked about what the future holds for CHIME. How do we want to advance it? Where are the opportunities? And it wasn’t just a one-time event. We’re always working on advancing that. Our goal is to represent the entire ecosystem of health and care.
In addition to CHIME University, we have our Most Wired Survey, which includes a Digital Health Analytics portal that can be accessed 24/7. There’s a lot of good content there.
We also had an exciting first-time event in 2022 with ViVE, which was done in partnership with HLTH. I think it was an industry-changing event. It was a place for members to share thoughts around challenges, and to have productive conversations with innovation and foundation firms about digital transformation. I was really excited to serve as board chair for that inaugural event.
CHIME’s challenge: Evolving while staying true to its roots
We’ve grown and evolved from where we started. The question is how we stay true to our roots — which is all about networks and continuous education to help drive discussions around the challenges that healthcare IT leaders face — while realizing that there’s more in the healthcare ecosystem that needs representation. I’m proud that we’ve been able to stay close to our roots and still have that connection with our members, but are continuing to offer different tracks and avenues. We have a little bit of something for everyone.
Personally, I joined CHIME in 2006 because my boss at the time encouraged me to join the CIO Boot Camp. Before that, I really had no exposure to CHIME. But the Boot Camp was an amazing experience; I would call it career-changing, because it helped launch my career, through the educational content, the group exercises, and the friendships I established. I’ve been hooked ever since. It has been surreal to have had that introductory experience and been able to participate in so many events.
Advice for incoming Board members & officers
Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. You’re representing the member community, so please come and share your ideas and be willing to challenge where we’re going. We’re moving past CHIME 3.0 and working to develop that next 3 to 5-year roadmap, and so, we need people to be open and honest and tell us exactly where we need to go from here.