The CIO’s crisis management playbook: 8 lessons in leadership

The coronavirus pandemic has been a litmus test of leadership under pressure. CIOs from the healthcare industry and beyond share tips for leading through crisis.

The CIO’s crisis management playbook: 8 lessons in leadership
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The COVID-19 pandemic has been a double whammy for Jack O’Hara, CIO of Springfield Clinic. O’Hara was still adjusting to being a brand-new CIO in a new state, when he had to mobilize a team to rapidly deploy telemedicine in a rural community. He did the latter in a span of three weeks.

“We had a zero remote culture up until two weeks ago,’’ says O’Hara, referring to mid-March, when the pandemic began ramping up and people were starting to work remotely. “My first six months [here] feel like six years. I really got thrown into the fire.”

O’Hara became CIO of Springfield Clinic, a $1 billion healthcare system with 400,000 patients and 3,000 employees, in Springfield, Ill., last summer. By Nov. 1, 2019, he had rolled out an updated billing system, which he says is the biggest upgrade you can do in healthcare. “There was lots of complexity, but it was great to build camaraderie and trust with the team,” he says. In February, IT moved the hosting of its electronic health records system to the clinic. That was “also a once in a 20-year project,’’ he says.

Then came the coronavirus in March.

O’Hara had just finished laying out a 12-month strategy to deploy a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) so people could eventually work remotely — just as people began working remotely.

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