A Week in the Life of a CIO: Mark Crandall, Consulate Health Care
The role of the Chief Information Officer has been significantly impacted by Enterprise Mobility, and has consequently been forced to evolve in terms of operational focuses and relationships across the entire business.
We asked the CIO from the enterprise parent company of more than 200 healthcare and rehabilitation centres across the US to share with us how his typical week is shaped, to help better understand the importance of mobility to the modern CIO. The following article consists of the thoughts of Mark Crandall, CIO of Consulate Health Care.
In Consulate Health Care's IT Department, we place a high priority on understanding the needs of our Operations partners and growing our employees in their talents, with respect to how to better serve our patients and their families.
To this end, I typically devote my Mondays to meeting with the Executive Management Team in our Operations departments and our CEO, Joseph Conte, to discuss the state of affairs in our Clinical, HR, Legal, Accounting/Finance, Admissions, Purchasing, and Safety Operations departments. It truly takes the collaboration of our entire team to provide the best care and services to our patients. After meeting with Operations, I then take the rest of the day to prepare the cascading messages to my department heads and their staff. This direction shapes not only the initiatives that are underway, but also provides opportunities to hone IT employees' understanding of the 'why we do what we do', as well as their focus on continuing education to apply emergent technologies to the solutions at hand.
The remainder of the week is devoted to a variety of activities to make forward progress on our 2015 operating plan. Consulate Health Care’s 2014 and 2015 IT operating plans have been focused on the infrastructure required to help our caregivers achieve the most efficiency in the coming months, as we roll out our Electronic Health Record platform. This has entailed large investments in enabling simple, secure wireless infrastructure, as well as the virtualisation of a large part of our data centre to prepare for a homogenous look and feel for the applications that practitioners will use on mobile devices at our patients’ bedsides.
One day during the week, especially due to the enormous change that our practitioners are going through to transition from paper to an Electronic Health Record platform, Jeff Jellerson, our Chief Operating Officer and I may visit a care centre that has recently gone through the EHR implementation.
This is one of my favorite times, as I get to see first-hand how these technology solutions impact our practitioners. There is no question that these implementations are challenging, but when I hear directly from one of our Directors of Clinical Services that medication pass is much more efficient and gives our nurses and CNAs more time with patients, I know that we are doing the right thing for the thousands of patients we serve.
Of course, the typical activities of an IT Department occupy my team’s time every week: problem solving, change requests for moves of code to production, network and systems engineering to make the best use of our data centre’s resources and the applications that we provide, improving our customer service with our 24/7 Service Desk offerings, and the efforts of our application development, business intelligence, project management, and provisioning teams. All of these teams’ contributions are necessary to not only ‘keep the lights on’, but move forward our aggressive agenda to bring the best technology solutions to our care centres and practitioners.
Interaction with the Wider Business
We are not required to have a clinical background in our IT department, although some of our analysts are trained clinicians. A majority of our IT employees do not have the benefit of being able to help our patients directly. However, there’s a sign hanging in the IT department that reads, ‘If you’re not helping one of our patients, you’d better be helping someone who is’. That’s what it means to be in IT here at Consulate; we’re always looking for ways to utilise technology to put better tools in the hands of our caregivers.
In the post-acute care space, coordination of care with provider partners (transition care) must be the main focus. Consulate is poised to tackle the challenge of working with providers across the continuum of care to be sure that the person-centric representation of the data is in the hands of our practitioners at the right time.
We must achieve this goal in the face of real constraints like regulatory oversight, the security of our patients’ data, and interoperability with our provider partners. These challenges are not always easy to address, but Consulate is positioned to succeed as we have, for years, by approaching the care of our patients with a focus on the many aspects of the person rather than just disease management.
Consulate Health Care is moving down the path of a highly mobile environment. Paper charts will no longer be stored behind the desks in the Nurse’s Stations, and every practitioner’s device, even those not owned by Consulate, will be required to securely and efficiently connect to our network for ease of access to patient data, and ease of communication across the continuum of care. Our network access solutions give us a seamless way to support the BYOD phenomenon that not only improves productivity, but lowers Consulate’s capital and operational costs.
Mobility Driving Business Forward
Like most industries, Information Technology has become the foundation of many of the operational solutions in place today. Now more than ever, it is important for the IT Department and our business partners to be in lock-step when it comes to the initiatives that are prioritised. We all know that budgets are not unlimited and that our employees need a work-life balance, so our department’s role has become much more collaborative as technology, and specifically mobility, evolve to be the enabler of many more solutions. If we focus on delivering valuable solutions to our Operations, Finance, HR, and Legal partners, we become a catalyst for care improvement and business growth rather than just a cost centre.
At HIMSS in Chicago this year, the theme that I heard when speaking with peers was the need for Health IT applications that are grounded in secure data communication, while providing a workflow that is easy for our practitioners to use.
How does this translate to our caregivers and our patients? We are going to be looking for our software partners to incorporate a friendly user experience to securely gather data from patients, families and providers. When you combine this with analytics that transform general information into targeted individual decision making, you have the key ingredients for the success of future health applications. More and more, health applications are expected to perform and be as usable as the applications that our patients and families have on their smartphones – this is a tall order – when is the last time that you heard a clinical application called ‘sleek and super easy to use’? Compare that to Pandora or Kindle for the iPad.
Solutions must be positioned as mobile-first. Mobility is shaping our solutions as it becomes required to get the right data to the right practitioner at the right time, directly to their fingertips. We have an amazing team of over 20,000 practitioners augmented by third-party doctors, that require the ability to connect securely and simply to our stable wireless infrastructure. This is a huge challenge as they each have their own personal mobile device, but this challenge is our opportunity to differentiate ourselves in our industry, through our goal to provide the best possible technology for our practitioners, and the best possible care to our patients.
This article was written by Mark Crandall, Chief Information Officer, Consulate Health Care.