How one CIO is picking up business leadership skills to create new value.
By Kathleen Healy-Collier
As a leader, I know I can create and deliver value in many ways. Right now, the opportunity to do that is through technology, and there are so many possibilities open to us in healthcare. But I don’t want to stop there.
I set out to get my doctorate in health administration because I’ve been thinking for a long time about how I can make the biggest impact on families and patients. Sometimes that means making it easier for people to access resources they already have, other times it can mean using technology to make something entirely new possible. But anything that I do as a leader, I’ve always wanted to produce the greatest potential benefit by learning to take my strengths and apply them to making people’s lives better.
I didn’t come up through technology, but I’ve always gravitated toward it and eventually recognized that it provides a wealth of opportunities for the future of healthcare. Recently, that has been clearer than ever.
At one end of the spectrum, information is key in healthcare, but it’s often fragmented, with owners across the system. To create solutions within Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, such as our Center for Knowledge Informatics and Decision Support (KIDS), my IT team had to go beyond applying business intelligence to a single data set. Understanding the daily lives of analysts from across the hospital system, and how all the pieces fit together, meant that we could develop KIDS to assist all our leaders in making important strategic, clinical and administrative decisions.
There are also the projects that technology enables where the patient impact is obvious and direct, like our interoperative MRI (iMRI). We are one of only a handful of hospitals in the United States with this tool, which allows physicians to collect high-resolution images before, during and after an operation. Technology also allows neuroradiologists to read these images while the operation is in progess, consulting with the physicians in real time and cutting down on–or even removing the need for–follow-up visits or surgeries. This obviously lightens the resource load on the hospital, but the end game is that it means less physical and emotional wear on the patient and the family. That’s the kind of impact that I’ve known is possible.
Gaining that understanding of the wide-reaching benefits that technology-savvy leaders can create in the healthcare space is an ongoing effort. I’ve always had great support from the people above me. Some have served as personal mentors, while others have provided professional support and guidance that has allowed me to stretch in my job.
The doctorate takes me one step further, giving me the tools to see the big picture and understand how everything comes together–starting with healthcare law, and extending to the needs of payers and patients. Frankly, it allows me to think more like a CEO.
If I want to take full advantage of the opportunities that are out there, I know I need to strengthen my abilities as a well-rounded leader. Technology is critical to the future of healthcare, and by taking responsibility for my own growth, I can translate my experience into greater value for myself and others.
Kathleen Healy-Collier is administrative director at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and a member of the CIO Executive Council.
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