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At the HIT Summit in Minneapolis, the Mayo Clinic’s CIO Shares His Perspectives on IT Leadership

June 13, 2018
by Mark Hagland
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Cris Ross, CIO of the Mayo Clinic, shared his perspectives on HIT leadership, at the Health IT Summit in Minneapolis

At the Health IT Summit in Minneapolis, sponsored by Healthcare Informatics, Cris Ross, CIO of the Rochester, Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic organization, shared his perspectives on CIO leadership and his organization’s IT journey, on Wednesday morning, at the Marriott Minneapolis City Center.

Complexity is built into the landscape at Mayo Clinic, Ross noted, with its 23 hospitals, 3,715 beds, 112 clinics, 1.3 million outpatient visits per year, 4,500 physicians, 2,400 residents and fellows, 57,1000 allied health staff, 67,000 employees overall, and $10 billion in annual revenues, spread out across several states. Furthermore, with its illustrious history of clinical and operational innovation, it is imperative that the healthcare IT leaders in the organization create and optimize systems worthy of the organization, Ross said.

Ross began his keynote address by providing his audience with some background on the history of Mayo Clinic, including on the innovative culture that emerged at the very beginning of the organization’s existence, 153 years ago, when the English-born William Worrall Mayo, who had served as an examining surgeon for the military draft board during the American Civil War, set up a medical practice in Rochester, Minnesota, with his sons William James Mayo and Charles Horace Mayo. After a devastating tornado struck Rochester in 1883, the Mayos collaborated with the Sisters of Saint Francis in establishing a hospital there, and from there, the Mayo story evolved forward.

Cris Ross

Among other innovations very early on were the creation of one of the very first true medical group practices, in the early 1890s, and the creation of the first shareable patient medical record, by Henry Plummer, M.D., one of the original group members at Mayo Clinic. “They hired Henry Plummer, an endocrinologist, who was also an engineer,” Ross noted. “He also invented the modern medical record. He and his colleague Maude Mellish [Wilson] came up with the concept of how to consolidate all the data about a patient in one place, which was an innovation, as data was scattered everywhere. The other was how to share a record, as the fuel to the operations of an integrated group practice. That was also a huge innovation. The last piece was, Maude’s insight was, if we could systematize the way data was collected, we could use it for research purposes, and derive insights from data. Quite an insight during the period 1908-1910. The work behind creating a single record was a huge element in creating a unified clinic at Mayo. And even the idea of outpatient consultations was more or less pioneered at Mayo Clinic.”


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It is in that context that he sees his responsibility as CIO, Ross told his audience. “This is a world-class institution that needs world-class IT,” he said. And that constant awareness sits at the core of his strategic planning as CIO, he noted.

Thus, his “lesson number one” among several: “know your place”—meaning that he feels it incumbent on himself and his team to provide the Mayo organization with a level of IT foundation and capabilities worthy of its culture of innovation.

And while the Mayo Clinic’s IT organization “consumer-centric, responsive, individualized, and best-of-breed”-focused several years ago, Ross, said, the best-of-breed focus had created a level of IT foundational weakness that was not sustainable. “To this day,” he said, “we have 2,000 named applications. The bad part was that our technology was siloed, proprietary, diversified, and imperfect. Here we were, arguably, the world’s best group practice, but our IT was far from perfect. So we created themes. For example, we had three EHRs [electronic health records]—one in Rochester, one shared between Arizona and Florida, one used in our community health systems in the Midwest. We were on a sustainability death march. We had multiple systems kluged together, we just couldn’t get there. So, sustainability was a theme” for the corporate IT team, moving forward into the future. “Innovation was another theme. Capability and execution were the third and fourth themes.”

Given some of the operational imperatives involved, Ross said, “We developed a plan for strategic workforce readiness, with five IT imperatives: maintain service while we change; secure the enterprise; implement shared enterprise systems; build platforms guided by architecture; transform the IT organization.”

Moving forward in terms of creating a single, unified, enterprise-wide EHR, Ross and his colleagues named that initiative “The Plummer Project. We wanted to honor Henry Plummer’s legacy,” Ross noted. And, within the context of the initiative, Ross and his colleagues have implemented a number of new systems, including the enterprise-wide EHR implementation. “One of the things we felt we needed to do was to put as much data into the EHR as we could,” he added, with regard to the idea of making the EHR as useful to Mayo clinicians as possible. The Rochester campus went live with the new EHR implementation on May 5, while the Arizona and Florida campuses are scheduled to go live in October. Meanwhile, a number of new systems, including a new dictation/transcription/speech recognition system, a new electronic fetal monitoring system, and a new real-time eligibility system.

“Lesson number two” in this journey, Ross said, “is that table stakes don’t win; and maintaining a stable enterprise core is table stakes.” In that regard, he said, “The absence of that enterprise core might break us, but its presence won’t ‘make’ us.”

The bottom line for CIOs? Creating and optimizing an exceptional information technology foundation; maintaining the highest level of service possible for clinicians and all end-users; and continuing to innovate forward, to support the clinical and operational innovations constantly evolving forward at a pioneering patient care organization. And, Ross said, providing a continuous level of information technology and IT service, to the high-performing clinicians and staff at a high-performing patient care organization, remains a continuous challenge, but with tremendous opportunity.


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Ed Kopetsky Named CHIME-HIMSS CIO of the Year

January 7, 2019
by Heather Landi, Associate Editor
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Ed Kopetsky, CIO of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford and Stanford Children’s Health, has been named the 2018 John E. Gall Jr. CIO of the Year award recipient by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

The award—named after John E. Gall Jr., who pioneered implementation of the first fully integrated medical system in the world in El Camino Hospital in California in the 1960s—is given annually to a CIO who has shown significant leadership and commitment to the healthcare industry during his or her career. The recipient is selected jointly by the boards of CHIME and HIMSS.

“I have had the great fortune to work with and learn from many healthcare executives and IT leaders, and to have talented teams working alongside me throughout my career,” Kopetsky said in a statement. “I am honored to have been nominated, and to have CHIME and HIMSS select me for this award.”    

Kopetsky’s career has spanned the industry, from CIO of three prominent healthcare systems to partner in a consulting firm specializing in healthcare IT and process improvement. He joined Stanford Children’s as CIO in 2009, after working as a partner at the professional services organization Healthlink, which was acquired by IBM in 2005. He was senior vice president and CIO of Centura Health from 1996 to 2000 and CIO of Sharp HealthCare from 1986 to 1996. Under his leadership, Stanford Children’s received the HIMSS Stage 7 Acute Care and Ambulatory Awards, Most Wired recognition from 2015 to the present, honors for having one of the best healthcare IT departments in 2016, and the international HIMSS Davies Award in 2017 for improving patient outcomes and care processes using health IT and analytics.

Over the decades, Kopetsky has helped launch and sustain numerous initiatives that have helped the industry grow, according to officials from the two associations. He was a founding member of CHIME in 1992 and has been an active member of HIMSS since 1987. He started and chaired a HIMSS chapter in San Diego in 1988 and three decades later joined the HIMSS Executive Institute. His contributions to CHIME include board member (1996-1999) CHIME chair (1998) and CHIME Foundation Board member (2002-2005). After losing his son to an accidental opioid overdose in late 2017, he helped launch the CHIME Opioid Task Force in 2018, which he co-chairs.

“Ed is one of the most courageous people I know,” Russell Branzell, president and CEO of CHIME, said in a statement. “Ed has turned a personal tragedy into a mission for CHIME and our members that already is saving lives. He has a vision of what can be achieved when healthcare IT leaders work together, and with his leadership we are making inroads against this devastating opioid epidemic.” 

“Ed Kopetsky epitomizes the values and traits that all in health strive to achieve,” Hal Wolf, president and CEO of HIMSS, said. “Mission driven, technically innovative and highly respected among his peers. A longtime HIMSS member and contributor, Ed has focused his personal passions into improving the lives of countless individuals. It is a privilege to honor Ed as our CIO of the Year.”

As a CIO, Kopetsky has successfully led several large-scale projects and mentored many staff members, according to CHIME and HIMSS officials. At Sharp HealthCare, his team completed implementation of one of the first integrated patient care systems supporting a multi-hospital and physician network. At Stanford Children’s he oversaw the implementation of enterprise systems, including an integrated electronic health record across Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford and Stanford Children’s Health. He is credited with developing top-notch IT teams and serving as a role model and mentor throughout his career.

Kopetsky will be honored on Feb. 11 at the 2019 CHIME HIMSS CIO Forum in Orlando, Fla. He will officially receive the award at the HIMSS19 conference that runs Feb. 11-15 in Orlando.


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Providence St. Joseph Health Hires Microsoft Exec as CIO

January 2, 2019
by David Raths, Contributing Editor
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Health system continues to draw from Seattle-area tech giants
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Renton, Wash.-based Providence St. Joseph Health, the nation's third-largest health system, has hired Microsoft executive B.J. Moore as its chief information officer effective Jan. 28, 2019. 

Moore joins several other executives that 51-hospital Providence St. Joseph Health has hired away from Seattle-area tech giants. Other additions have included Chief Digital Officer Aaron Martin, previously of Amazon, who joined in 2014, and Chief Financial Officer Venkat Bhamidipati, formerly of Microsoft, who joined in 2017. Moore will report to Bhamidipati.

In a statement about Moore’s hiring, Providence St. Joseph Health President and CEO Rod Hochman, M.D., explained why the health system is targeting tech executives such as Moore. "With data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence poised to enable and improve the way care is delivered, health systems need leaders who are well versed in the technology fields. B.J. has the depth and experience to guide our organization through this period of transformation, which will include collaborating with technology companies, as well as adopting enterprise-wide solutions that will modernize healthcare operations."

Moore spent close to 20 years at Microsoft, where he served as Vice President, Enterprise Commerce and Compliance, Cloud and Artificial Intelligence and Vice President, Enterprise Commerce, Windows and Devices Group. 

Besides its 51 hospitals, Providence St. Joseph Health has 829 physician clinics, senior services, supportive housing and many other health and educational services. The health system and its partners employ more than 119,000 people across seven states – Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Washington. Formed in 2016, the Providence St. Joseph Health family includes the founding organizations, and in Texas, Covenant Health and Covenant Medical Group; California, Facey Medical Group, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian and St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare; Washington, Kadlec Regional Medical Center, Pacific Medical Centers, and Swedish Health Services.


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Rasu Shrestha Leaving UPMC to Join Atrium Health as Chief Strategy Officer

December 18, 2018
by Heather Landi, Associate Editor
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Industry thought leader Rasu Shrestha, M.D., formerly Chief Innovation Officer at the vast 40-hospital University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), is leaving Pittsburgh to join Charlotte, North Carolina-based Atrium Health has the new executive vice president and chief strategy officer.

For the past 11 years, Shrestha has held various roles at UPMC, including, most recently, executive vice president and chief innovation officer, responsible for driving UPMC’s innovation strategy. In addition to leading innovation at UPMC, Shrestha also served as executive vice president of UPMC Enterprises, the venture capital arm of UPMC.

According to a press release from Atrium Health, a 40-hospital health system previously named Carolinas HealthCare System, in his new role Shrestha will lead enterprise strategy, including planning and tactical direction for Atrium Health’s strategic roadmap. In addition, he will spearhead a renewed focus on innovation, launching new healthcare inventions, discoveries and ideas to benefit Atrium Health patients and the communities it serves.

Shrestha will officially join Atrium Health in February 2019, reporting directly to President and CEO Eugene Woods. He will take on the position formerly held by Carol Lovin, who was promoted to executive vice president and system chief of staff.

“It is our honor to welcome Dr. Rasu Shrestha into the Atrium Health family,” Atrium Health president and CEO Eugene Woods, said in a statement. “As Atrium Health looks ahead to how we can reimagine a brighter and bolder future for care, Dr. Shrestha will help us develop the strategy and innovation to bring health, hope and healing to more people.” 

A respected thought leader and visionary in the field of healthcare information technology, Shrestha was recognized as one of the “Top 20 Health IT Leaders Driving Change” and as a “Top Healthcare Innovator” by InformationWeek, according to the Atrium Health press release. In addition, he is chairman of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Innovation Committee, and co-chair of Health Datapalooza.

“I am awestruck by the ambitions of Atrium Health to fulfill their mission to improve health, elevate hope and advance healing – for all,” Shrestha said in a statement. “I look forward to working with this incredibly talented team to forge ahead with meaningful strategies, partnerships and opportunities – and to support this organization’s commitment and dedication to its patients and communities.”

Shrestha announced the move to Atrium Health via Twitter Tuesday afternoon and also posted several comments on LinkedIn. “I find myself in a reflective mood, as I contemplate leaving the many teams I’ve had the honor of making an impact in, the culture that I’ve had the privilege of being able to help craft, and an organization I love, in a city my family and I have called home for the last 11 years since moving here from Southern California. I am humbled with the honor of having worked with some of the most brilliant leaders and doers I have met, and proud of the many accomplishments we have made as a team here at UPMC and across the industry,” Shrestha wrote. “It is this purpose-driven passion that will be a recurring theme, as we continue to cross paths and push ahead through the many challenges and opportunities.”

He remarked that he was drawn to the “human ambitions” of Atrium Health to “improve health, elevate hope and advance healing - for all.”

“What a remarkable place to start my next chapter forward. I know that when we put our hearts and minds together, anything is possible,” he wrote.

Shrestha received his medical degree from CCS University in India, completed his fellowship in informatics from the University of London and earned his MBA from the University of Southern California.

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