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One-on-One with Dublin Methodist Hospital CIO Michael Krouse

April 16, 2008
by root
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Michael Krouse was able to take on a CIO’s dream job — designing a paperless hospital from the ground up.

Dublin Methodist Hospital is a part of OhioHealth, a not-for-profit, charitable healthcare organization consisting of 15 hospitals and 20 health and surgery centers throughout a 46-county area. The new 94-bed hospital, which opened in January, can expand to 300 rooms if demand increases in its northwest corner of central Ohio. Recently, HCI Editor-in-Chief Anthony Guerra had a chance to chat with CIO Michael Krouse.

AG: When did you start and what organization did you come from?

MK: I came from the Washington state neighborhood. There's a little system out there called Northwest Hospital and Medical Center. Prior to that, I ran the western half of the United States for First Consulting Group. I’m also the founder of a company called KH Consulting which I started before I came out here and took on this role. That company specialized in strategic planning and executive input services in terms of placement, not recruiting, but interim support for senior executive roles.

AG: Tell me a little bit about the size of Northwest Hospital where you came from?

MK: It’s a single hospital, 220-bed facility. When I joined, we were in active discussions with Swedish Health Services in Seattle, which is much bigger. I'm trying to remember how many beds Swedish is because they purchased Providence. When I joined, we were in this discussion about pulling all of these systems together. When I came onboard, I was the senior VP over administrative services. I had human resources, IT, medical records, position development and several other components, so not what you would term a traditional CIO role. My 12-plus years at First Consulting Group, I was working with all the major, large healthcare systems in the western half of the U.S. — the Catholic Health Initiatives, the CHWs, Adventis Health, the Stanfords, the UCLAs etc. That's where, in my role, I was leading them from an IT perspective, relative to what kind of investments should they be making and how to deploy them.

AG: As an outside consultant, were you able to see solutions that internal people couldn’t grasp because they were wrapped up in the day to day?

MK: I've been here since June of last year, and I guess to answer your question directly, it's always easier to see from the outside with a fresh set of eyes, so that you're not immediately imbedded in the cultural aspects of why certain things happen. You always have a fresh eye and a freshened ability to ask the question why do you do it this way. Additionally, I think one of the reasons the organization was interested in getting me onboard here is because I've got so much additional experience into other health systems across the country relative to the way that they do things. So to take Ohio Health to the next level, was to bring all of that experience to the table and challenge the status quo where it makes sense and run with it where it doesn't. That's the beauty of being the new set of eyes.

The difference is that once you're here, you've got to see it through. You're no longer playing the role of the consultant that says from on high, ‘These are the things you should do, and once you get these people to do that, I'll check back with you in six months.’ Now I'm also the resource that has to make that happen. Operationally speaking, I've been on both sides of that coin. I've been a consultant for many years, and I've been an operational person for many years. There are pros and cons to coming at it from different angles.

AG: Dublin is brand new. Were you involved from the blueprint stage?

MK: It’s a multiyear project. Any time you're bringing something up like Dublin from the ground up, it's probably been, certainly from an IT perspective, nearly a two year planning exercise. I would say that they were in the throes of building some of the core applications that we utilize in our other facilities.

At my arrival, what we were really interested in doing was aggressively introducing some of the newer components of technology. Those newer components included the bar code scanning technology in terms of the way we were going to deploy the single sign-on fingerprint scanning technology. It was state board of pharmacy approved. The idea was to push the electronic medical record in the right way so you've got a completely wireless communication infrastructure. Those are the pieces that I really jumped into in my arrival to ensure that the way in which we were kind of going about those pieces — all those new things, because they're brand spanking new to Ohio Health — were really critically well done. There was a fair amount of foundation work that had already been done. And in terms of inheriting the caretaker aspects, all the core applications and things like that had been built, that's absolutely all I did.

AG: Was there someone in the CIO role who had put those things into place? Who had done that work?