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One-on-One with Dublin Methodist Hospital CIO Michael Krouse, Part II

April 22, 2008
by root
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In this part of our interview, Krouse talks about how important it is for CIOs to walk a mile in their clinicians' shoes.

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.

Part I

AG: Would you say you were a partner in developing the three-in-one handheld you mentioned?

MK: I think that we worked pretty aggressively with McKesson to standardize all those applications. The Symbol devices themselves were being deployed in other of our facilities, but again to support just a single application. We had to work with McKesson to fold that into taking advantage of the devices that we already had, and then running multiple applications on them, and that's somewhat difficult because the applications sometimes come from different vendors.

AG: That's interesting, and we see that more in the market with large healthcare systems and the CIOs. They're not just buying products, but essentially partnering up with vendors, sometimes it's a formal partnership where royalties or revenues are shared after something is co-developed. What are your thoughts on that as a CIO in terms of the need to get out there and not just buy what's there, but get created what you need?

MK: I'm a big proponent of it in that I think often that to do two things simultaneously — (1) Maximize the investments of the technologies that you've already made, and the devices that you've already made, and (2) to collapse down the simplicity of deploying some of these devices out — to some extent you have to engage in partnerships that lead to custom development.

I’m not a fan of doing one-offs in that way. I am a fan of doing it in a way that represents the natural evolution of the industry. Where I like to do it, is when I know I’m going to be on the front end of the curve, and where I know that what I have developed will be not only desired, but is a key critical component for other facilities to follow behind me. In that case, I like to be out on the front end of the curve and develop in that way.

I don’t like to develop custom one-offs that are so unique to my environment that they’re really not replicable in other healthcare environments, because over time that will cause me grief. Because the vendor themselves will see me as a one-off and difficult to support, etc. I’m selective about where I’m doing it, but I’m doing it for a reason, because I’m trying to get more advanced relative to where I see the direction of the industry going.

AG: Have you ever gone down the road of really formalizing that into shared revenues, really getting the lawyers involved and contracts and that kind of thing?

MK: Not from the standpoint of shared revenues, but when we negotiate the contracts in terms of the upfront costs and/or we say what’s it going to cost to maintain this long term, there are some significant gives and takes as it relates to that. Now we do have within Ohio Health, much like the Cleveland Clinic and others, a research and development arm and an innovation arm that looks for opportunities to take some of this true custom development, whether it be specific to devices in a physician patent or whether it be specific to some component of IT, to manifest itself into a true business that could stand on its own. But that’s a whole separate division within Ohio Health and is relatively new for Ohio Health in the grand scheme of things, but definitely a direction we could go.

AG: You see that as part of the CIO role going forward?

MK: Sure. Absolutely. I think the successful CIO going forward is a nontraditional CIO. By that, I mean they have to be an individual that understands the business well and knows what’s necessary operationally to take the business forward, both strategically from the perspective of how we align more closely to our physician community, how do we keep them incented to stay actively involved with the hospital system, how do we grow, what service areas do we offer to the community.

Today’s CIO has to understand that first and foremost. Once they understand that comprehensively, they can go out and selectively apply solutions. The days are gone of the CIO saying, ‘Hey, you know, I’m hearing about a new OB system, what do you think about implementing it,' without any context as to how that fits into the bigger picture.