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A Chat with St. Joseph's New CIO Larry Stofko, Part III

March 4, 2008
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In this part of our interview, Stofko discusses his plans for Azyxxi (now Amalga) and the organization’s Stark strategy.

In October, Larry Stofko took the IT helm at St. Joseph Health System. Stofko — promoted into the senior vice president and CIO job at the 14-hospital $3.7 billion not-for-profit Catholic health system — had been with the organization for seven years. Most recently, he served as vice president, IT strategy and innovation. So what’s it like to go from a supporting role to a true leadership position? Recently, HCI Editor-in-Chief Anthony Guerra chatted with Stofko about his new role, and what it takes to be a successful CIO in today’s environment.

Click here for Part I

Click here for Part II

AG: Tell me more about your goals for the Azyxxi product.

LS: Two out of three of our big organizational goals can be helped by Azyxxi. One is perfect care, and that really focuses on all of the evidence-based medicine, the healthcare equivalent of zero defects, trying to make sure that we use not only external evidence but also internal best practices. That involves trying to drive wrong site surgeries to zero versus saying let’s have a 10 percent decrease this year and 10 percent decrease next year. I’ll mention how I think we can support that in just a minute, but I’ll mention the second goal so you have both of them in your mind.

The second one is ‘Healthiest Communities.’ That means that — in the markets we serve — we will have the healthiest communities in the nation. So we’re looking at what can we do as a health system to create that outside the four walls of the hospital.

And I’ll mention the third one just so you know what it is. It’s called ‘Sacred Encounters.’ And that’s really how all of our employees interact with the patients, with coworkers, with vendors. They are instructed to really take the time and attention to be present and focused in what they’re doing. That may be a nurse, when she’s washing her hands before she gets into her patient’s room. For her to dismiss all the other thoughts that may be going on and to focus on the care of that patient when she’s in the presence of that patient. It’s similar to how I’m taking the time to focus on our conversation right now, to clear my agenda and shut the door.

AG: And not check your e-mails while we’re talking and lose your train of thought. I’ve had that happen a few times.

LS: Right (laughing). I think ultimately the repository will help and our systems will help because it will put the data where providers need it. This way, they don’t have to spend a lot of time scrambling for data. So in the long term, I think, a lot of the IT will support that goal.

But to get back to Azyxxi and the data warehouse, I look at its benefits and uses from three vantage points. One is real time access to information. So if we start taking all this information from disparate systems — hospital based systems as well as from physician offices — and pull this data together, an example is in the ED, and this is where MedStar (who developed the Azyxxi product before Microsoft picked it up) used it. That’s kind of how they used it, real-time transactional access to a large variety of data that you can get in a more rich fashion than in any one individual transactional system. Because each system by itself can’t give you the full picture of what’s going on with that patient. So that’s something we see using it for pretty quickly, because we’re going to push some lab results, ADTs, pharmacy information. We have a Web portal, but this will start to take in some additional hospital-based information from multiple systems and put that together for clinicians to make better decisions before they go into CPOE, as an example. So instead of just going in saying, ‘Here’s the order set I want to do within CPOE,’ having broader information that includes hospital-based and non-hospital-based, giving them a better picture in decision support. So that’s the transactional aspect.