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"I Love Being a Hospital CIO"

May 11, 2008
by daphne
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"I love being a hospital CIO.

This morning I was talking to Rose Ann Laureto, CIO at University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago. She didn’t know that my past life had been working in hospitals and we got to talking about the meaning of what hospital folks did, and that how no matter how deep into the boardroom you got, our patients were what got us out of bed in the morning.

And she told me a story:

“A few weeks ago, my technical team got a call from Social Work,” she said. A man in his nineties was in our hospital . His ninety year old wife was also hospitalized, but in a neighboring hospital. The wife was not going to live through the evening.”

“The other hospital called,” she continued, “and asked if there was a way we could set up, through an encrypted system, a way for the two of them to visually see each other since they were too ill to be transferred. And our technical team came and got me and we made it happen within an hour. The husband was able to witness the last rites being administered to his wife before she died that evening.”

Now, hospital people usually have a story or two along these lines. But you see, there was more to it than that. Rose Ann had begun by telling me that when this happened, she and the rest of the C-suite were sequestered in all-day strategic planning session. I stopped her. “You mean you were behind closed doors with the entire C-suite and your team didn’t hesitate to come in and get you?”

“No one thought twice,” she said. “They knew this was the absolute right thing to do.”

That’s what got me thinking. How easy would it have been to use the old, ‘I can’t interrupt, she’s behind closed doors’ line? That would have been the end of the story. And, how many other C-suite execs would have interrupted their meeting for something like that? Would yours? If you’re a hospital CIO, maybe that’s a good question to ask yourself: “Would they have come to get me?”

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