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Live from HIMSS17: Dan Rather Dives Into "Unprecedented" Presidential Administration, Opines on Trump-Press Feud

February 20, 2017
by Rajiv Leventhal
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In a fireside chat at HIMSS17, journalism luminary Dan Rather discussed key leadership qualities and gave his thoughts on the current relationship between the national media and the Trump administration. 
Rather, the former news anchor for CBS Evening News for more than 20 years, and current managing editor and anchor for the television news magazine Dan Rather Reports, sat down with HIMSS President and CEO H. Stephen Lieber for nearly 40 minutes in front of a packed room of conference attendees. The conversation at HIMSS17 was sponsored by HX360 Executive Engagement. 
Rather spoke first about his career as a journalist, noting that after he took over from Walter Cronkite as anchor of CBS Evening News in the early 1980s, an unexpected terrific first few years in television ratings—shortly after CBS corporate leadership told him to expect a period of failure following the great Cronkite—led to him developing a big ego. But a few personal lessons in life taught Rather to stay grateful, be modest and merciful, and have humility and forgiveness, which can "take you very far and get you places."
Continuing with a very modest tone, Rather called himself "a reporter who got very lucky." He said, "I dreamed of being a journalist from the time I first remembered important to me. You know that I know I'm not an expert. I have traveled miles and seen things, but that doesn't make an expert." 
Dan Rather and H. Stephen Lieber at HIMSS17
Lieber asked Rather about the ongoing relationship between the media and President Donald Trump's administration—which has become quite contentious—and also to make predictions for the future. Rather said while he feels he is good at reporting on what has happened, the record shows that when he talks about what's to come, "I am not great at foreseeing the future. He who lives by the crystal ball tends to eat lots of broken glass." He then commented, "Whether one likes our president or not, we have never been in this place before, as people or as a country. This is not only [abnormal], but unprecedented. I don't mean that critically, but analytically. Never before have we had a leader like this, never have we had a president who had zero experience in public service, [despite] his business experience."
Rather continued, "Clearly, what got him elected is mainly the hunger for change. There were so may Americans, some fearful or resentful, but also others, who just felt that the country needed change. I cannot recall a time in history when the appearance was extreme confusion, bordering on chaos, in just the first few weeks of a presidency. There is a lack of direction. This may turn out different as time goes on, but it's very hard to make case that it's not the most chaotic, or at least one of the most chaotic, starts [to a presidency] ever."
Rather noted that Trump might say that this feeling of chaos is all planned, since people want extreme change and chaos. But, Rather, reflected on one of Trump's principal advisors, Steve Bannon, who said years ago that he was an admirer of what [Russian revolutionary communist] Lenin brought to Russia. "First of all, if anybody in public life had said that 10 years ago, they’d run the risk of indictment. And also, look at what happened in Russia in the wake of the revolution. I think what Bannon was saying was, the country needs a shaking up from the top. If one was listening to the campaign, they’re doing what they said they would do. They’re looking for dramatic, immediate change, recognizing that the appearance of confusion might be to their advantage."
When asked about the media's role in covering the federal government, Rather said that the whole system of the press is intended to be adversarial. But, he pointed out a key subtly: "You notice that increasingly as the president's [administration] critiques the media, they say 'media' not 'press,' because the 1st Amendment calls it the press, not the media. This is done on purpose."
He continued, "No one in the past has accused the press of being the enemy of American people. Clearly, this is designed to muzzle the press. Being a watchdog is one of the most important responsibilities of an American journalist. A watchdog barks at things that are suspicious; you don't want an attack dog or a lapdog. But, we know from history what happens when leaders say a segment is the enemy of the people. This has potential to be dangerous."
Lieber then asked if the media has a role in this increasingly contentious relationship, to which Rather responded, "What has happened to the media in general is that the standards have diminished considerably. So often now, 'news' is viewed as entertainment. Far too often, the very large international conglomerates have gotten bigger with media consolidation, and the sense of news as a public service has almost disappeared. There always been those who say they're in business to make money, but we also see news as a public responsibility with trust. Now, is the only goal to make profit?  This has resulted in what I call the corporatization and politicalization of the news." 
To Rather, an example of "a legitimate news operation" with public service in mind, is doing a story in Afghanistan that involves the journalist physically going there, walking around and coming back with the story. But, he said, "If the focus is how to make the most money, it's easier and cheaper to have four people in a room shouting about Afghanistan. And when that happens, none of the four people have been there. So we do have a responsibility for what's happened out there.  But I am starting to see the press catch their breath, ask tougher questions and do more investigative reporting. But that will only go so far; the real decisions are made above [reporters]."
Whats's more, Rather noted that the pattern of modern presidencies is that a new president usually gets tested, or probed, by one or more foreign powers. "And already, some combination of Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea have already made little probes, tests: North Korea with a new long-range missile; Iran with a missile test; and Russia with (reneging) on a treaty. So I think you can see the tests on the international stage. If you believe as I do, and what presidents believe, the first order of business is to protect the people. He will be tested going forward, and how he responds to that will be critical." Rather further asked, "Can he hold his own party behind him? Republicans from his own party indicated they couldn't get behind his executive order that he put out on immigration. I do find that a lot of people are afraid. Americans are far from perfect, but being afraid is not symbolic of American character. So whatever happens with this administration, we will get through this. It might be a long night or a nightmare, but we will get through it."

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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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Early Career Physicians, Pharmacists, Keen on Working in Tech, Survey Finds

December 18, 2018
by Rajiv Leventhal, Managing Editor
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A survey of 502 early career U.S. physicians and pharmacists revealed that 47 percent of these healthcare professionals are interested in working in the technology sector.

A LinkedIn survey, conducted in October, queried 502 physicians and pharmacists in the U.S. who completed their degrees within the last five years. The participants, all of whom have LinkedIn profiles, were chosen at random and reflect different specialties and years of experience.

Thirty percent of respondents said they were “somewhat interested” in working in tech, while 17 percent said they were “very interested.” Another 21 percent said they were “somewhat uninterested,” and 20 percent said they were neutral. Just 11 percent of respondents said they were “very uninterested.”

Participants were also asked to share their views on why they would or wouldn't consider working in the technology sector. Fifty-eight percent of respondents cited substance of the work, 57 percent said total compensation, 50 percent said working hours, and 49 percent said the impact of the work.

Notably, 85 percent of survey respondents said that having peers with their background represented at tech companies could lead to innovation for “traditional” industries.

Another 48 percent of respondents said the technology sector has an allure that makes it difficult for other industries to compete for top talent. Meanwhile, 47 percent said that those who move into tech from a different industry are more interested in “big impact.”

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The Modern Healthcare CIO, CMO, and CTO

December 10, 2018
by Lori Williams, Industry Voice, vice president of fulfillment, Gigster
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Disruption in the healthcare space comes primarily from the expansion of data’s role in the industry, and the healthcare C-suite’s familiarity with that expansion will help drive company and industry success

For the healthcare C-suite executive, the industry has never been more complex—nor has it ever contained so much potential. Emerging technologies mixed with political uncertainty has created an environment where incredible amounts of healthcare data are revolutionizing how patient care is handled, but patients remain uncertain about the future of their own health. With better data and the means to draw insights from it, healthcare CIOs, CMOs and CTOs are in a position to help address patients’ uncertainties and make hospitals and clinics more accessible and effective than ever before.

Here’s a look at how the role of the modern healthcare CIO, CMO and CTO is changing:

The Modern Healthcare CIO
The modern healthcare CIO’s role has evolved to become more innovative. No longer a title reserved strictly for engineers and IT professionals, today’s healthcare CIOs are focused on information science instead of simply setting up network infrastructure or providing back-end support. The trend towards a more data-centric role began as hospitals rolled out electronic health records, equipping individuals with better access to healthcare provider data. Through enterprise data warehousing, CIOs are becoming masters of data management, governance and predictive analytics, and passing along the many benefits of those knowledge bases to patients.

The Modern Healthcare CMO
The confusing healthcare landscape makes the role of a healthcare CMO more necessary than ever before. Thanks to ongoing regulatory changes, uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act, and shifting consumer expectations for on-demand services, healthcare CMOs are responsible for helping patients navigate their way through a complex and opaque industry. As patients continue to assume the role of consumers, carrying out comparison shopping as they would for any other industry, CMOs must be adept in crafting a healthcare provider’s brand and messaging.

At the same time, CMOs must also ensure that healthcare providers offer a modern online experience, ensuring websites are mobile-optimized and social media accounts are generating engagement. This also means CMOs need to help move marketing efforts into the 21st century, transitioning away from direct mail or billboards towards digital marketing and CRM tools. Because if they don’t, there are plenty of med tech startups that will promptly eat into their market share.

The Modern Healthcare CTO
Unlike healthcare CTOs of the past who remained siloed off from the rest of the organization, today’s modern healthcare CTO is fully engaged with healthcare providers and their technology stacks, utilizing new software and hardware to improve daily workflows. The CTO is enabling the transition to patient-oriented self-service operations, enabling patients to carry out administrative tasks like scheduling appointments or refilling prescriptions over the internet. Because medical data is often stored in a variety of different sources, it’s critical for the CTO to be able to keep these systems interoperable with one another. For hospitals riddled with legacy software, CTOs should expect to continue employing middleware solutions to bridge the gap between old and new.

Members of the healthcare industry C-suite have the power to transform lives, and the CIO, CMO and CTO have roles that directly affect a provider’s ability to carry out positive change. With better data from the CTO’s tech stack, the CIO can use better analytics to help providers determine the best solutions for their patients, marketed to consumers by the CMO through modern platforms in clear, easy-to-understand language.

Lori Williams currently serves as Gigster’s vice president of fulfillment. Prior to joining Gigster, Lori was the general manager for Appririo.

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