At Symposium, AMIA CEO Doug Fridsma Spent Time ‘Hanging Out with the Newbies’ | David Raths | Healthcare Blogs Skip to content Skip to navigation

At Symposium, AMIA CEO Doug Fridsma Spent Time ‘Hanging Out with the Newbies’

November 17, 2017
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Informatics organization seeks ways to recognize wide variety of career pathways
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The field of informatics is changing, and no one has a better view of the transition that Doug Fridsma, M.D., Ph.D.

The president and CEO of AMIA just wrapped up the organization’s annual symposium in Washington, D.C., last week. When I asked him for his impressions from the meeting, he started out by saying that he spent a lot of his time hanging out with “newbies” to the field. “It used to be that you were a doctor and you got interested in technology and got a Ph.D. or master’s degree, and that was a mid-career shift,” Fridsma said. “Informatics is now a primary career path for folks.”

Attending the symposium were college students and clinical informatics fellows just beginning their careers. To better understand these new entrants to the field, AMIA developed a work force survey and complementary employer survey, and Fridsma presented the results at the symposium. There are approximately 1,500 diplomates board-certified in clinical informatics. But many informatics professionals exist in nursing, pharmacy and other ancillary services as well. With the survey, AMIA sought to understand what jobs they hold and what level of expertise they have. It got about 2,000 responses from non-physicians, and most were not members of AMIA.

“Informatics used to be an interesting, esoteric program of study or research. We had a lot of folks who were academics, Ph.D.s and others, doing research on this activity,” Fridmsa said. “Over the last five to 10 years as we have seen the rapid adoption of health information technology and EHRs, we have not only academicians, but also an increasing number of people who are applied in their focus. There are a lot of folks who are informatics professionals who spend most of their time in healthcare settings, and they are novice, intermediate and advanced. We are developing a career pipeline that lets people come in not just at the Ph.D. level, but at a bachelor’s or master’s level and work their way up.”

With an eventual goal of certifying other levels of competency besides the board subspecialty in clinical informatics, AMIA is doing a job task analysis. “We are trying to understand the skills and competencies people need to do their jobs. Based on that we will try to develop a way for people to get recognized for their professional expertise,” Fridsma said. “We are hoping to find some partnerships with organizations able to help us with an equivalent exam to what the clinical informatics diplomates have.” For instance, he said, the medical genetics community can provide an exam for board-certified physicians in medical genetics as well as genetic counselors with Ph.Ds.

“We also recognize that there is a broad swathe of folks at novice and intermediate levels, and we want to provide ways for them to get credentials,” he explained. The high-stakes test model of credentialing is changing, even within the medical field. “We would like to get ahead of the curve a bit,” he said. “We are exploring ways for people to be recognized for their skills and expertise that may or may not require that every-10-year high-stakes examination. We can figure out ways that someone can put together a program that says I am an expert in clinical research, data analytics and standards.”

Fridsma believes it is important for AMIA to engage these professionals as well as physicians. “We aren’t going to be successful as informatics professionals unless we can create team-based approaches, and that means engagement of the nursing, pharmacy and boots-on-the-ground folks. There is a lot of work going on to embrace all those professionals and provide professional recognition for them as well as conference offerings.”

Reflecting on his own experience of the symposium, Fridsma was impressed that so many young people were participating. “We had a whole host of high school students present their work. One had written an editorial that got published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which was really impressive,” he said. A group of about 50 women college students from underrepresented communities around the Washington, D.C., area, attended. “This is the second year we had a leadership dinner where we raised funds to create a sustainable way to pay it forward. Those kinds of things are going to be important as well.”

During the symposium, AMIA announced a closer working relationship with the OpenNotes organization, which is pushing for health systems to routinely share provider notes with their patients. I asked Fridsma why that was important to AMIA. “As we have been developing our policy principles to define what we stand for, one thing that has risen to the top is what can the informatics community do to support patients,” he said. A lot of the informatics work early on was supporting the hospital and doctor enterprise, he added, “but increasingly we know that if we are going to improve health and not just care delivery, we have to be able to find ways to apply the expertise we have in informatics to help the patient. The goal should be to make patients first-order participants in their care so they can engage with providers, understand their responsibilities and ask good questions.”

OpenNotes is not a technology, but a cultural change, he added. “It is aligned with the importance we place on patients. Our job is to use informatics to make it easier for them to have access to their information.”











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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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What Does Your Magnum Opus Look Like? A Few Operatic Thoughts

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I was given the privilege and pleasure recently of presenting, for the second year in a row, a lecture on Richard Wagner’s “Ring” cycle, as the leading opera company in my city, a world-class opera house, has been putting on, in yearly succession, the four operas of the “Ring of the Nibelung” cycle by German composer Richard Wagner (1813-1883). Last year, the second opera in the tetratology, “Die Walküre,” was performed; this year, the third opera, “Siegfried.” After the concluding opera, “Götterdämmerung,” is performed, the entire cycle will be presented in festival format, always a major cultural event. I spoke on “Siegfried.”

I’ve been fortunate to have seen six complete “Ring” cycles in live opera houses in different cities, and I can tell you, it’s a life-changing experience, as this four-opera work (16 hours of music altogether), sits at the absolute summit of western art. Richard Wagner was a hideous human being himself, but spent numerous years working on something that changed the course of classical music and redefined opera.

What’s more, from the summer of 1848, when Wagner wrote a first sketch of the libretti, or texts, of the operas, until their true compositional completion in 1871, more than 23 years were to pass; and it would be another five years before the tetralogy was fully presented, in a purpose-built new opera house in the Bavarian town of Bayreuth. It was a herculean feat to create the entire text of these four long operas, and compose 16 hours of music that would completely redefine the concept of opera. Indeed, when the crowned heads of Europe, the great living composers, and the 19th-century European intelligentsia and glitterati, gathered at the new Festspielhaus in Bayreuth in 1876, many were so overwhelmed by what they saw and heard, that they were rendered speechless. Even now, 142 years later, first time Ring-goers are overwhelmed by the breadth and sweep, the musical and dramatic audacity, and uniqueness of the “Ring” operas, with their story of gods, giants, dwarves, flying Valkyries, Rhinemaidens, one huge dragon, humans, gold mined from a river, magic swords and spears, and of course, a gold ring whose possessor can control the world and its fate.

Even just looking at the third opera, “Siegfried,” Wagner struggled mightily. For one thing, being essentially a grifter and a cad, Wagner borrowed/took money from everyone who would lend/give it, and often had affairs with the wives of the patrons bankrolling his compositional work, leaving his life in constant chaos, as he fled from one city to the next. One such wife, Mathilde Wesendonck, inspired the opera “Tristan und Isolde,” groundbreaking operas that Wagner wrote during a 12-year hiatus in his composition of “Siegfried.” And “Tristan” itself changed the entirety of classical music, its tonality-challenging chromaticism.

Well, no one is expecting anyone to match the unique creativity of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle. But the leaders of U.S. patient care organizations are doing a lot of important things these days, including using formal continuous improvement methodologies to rework core patient care delivery processes in order to transition into value-based healthcare. What’s more, as our Special Report on Leadership outlines, the entire role of the CIO is being rethought now, as the demands for leadership and strategic capabilities are catapulting that role forward; and patient care organizations are beginning to make real headway in advancing equality for women and people of color among the ranks of healthcare IT leaders and managers.

So while no one is expecting anyone to create an operatic tetralogy that will change the face of music, there are plenty of heroic endeavors open to anyone willing to envision the healthcare system of the future. The opportunities are as limitless as the imagination.

Related Insights For: Leadership


Using Performance Management to Scale

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Performance management is so much more than just a year-end performance review
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Performance management and goal setting have always been part of my DNA. It’s like a compass that tells us we are steering the ship in the right direction or gives us a chance to course correct if we wander off track. It’s hard for any organization to determine how they are doing unless there are clear measurable objectives. CIOs and their leaders need monthly, quarterly and annual goals to measure how you and your team are doing against the plan. I also firmly believe they should be S.M.A.R.T. goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based.

Once the goals have been established, you need a written plan. I like three-year rolling plans so you can look into the future and describe your vision of what your organization will look like 36 months out. Then you can work back to the second year, and eventually the first year, to give you the framework for what you need to accomplish in the next 12 months. I suggest you do it with your managers. It makes them accountable to the organization since they are involved in the formation of the plan.

Your plan must be a living document to be used frequently during team meetings throughout the year to see how you are performing as a team and individually. This is not a process you invest in to review at year-end to see how you performed. By then it’s too late. It must be reviewed on a consistent basis to make sure everyone is on track. Performance management is so much more than just a year-end performance review. If there are individuals who are not performing against the plan, you can use the plan as a tool to performance manage them to re-engage as an important member of the team. 

I just returned from the Scale-up Conference in Denver and learned so much about taking goal setting and performance management to a whole new level by adopting the "Rockefeller Habits," as written by Verne Harnish. After reading the book, everything changed for me in the way we will be doing our planning, goal setting and performance management forever. It’s so brilliant and easy to understand. Here they are:

Rockefeller Habit #1: The executive team is healthy and aligned

Rockefeller Habit #2: Everyone is aligned with the #1 thing that needs to be accomplished this quarter to move the organization forward

Rockefeller Habit #3: Communication rhythm is established and information moves through the organization accurately and quickly

Rockefeller Habit #4: Every facet of the organization has a person assigned with accountability for ensuring goals are met

Rockefeller Habit #5: Ongoing employee input is collected to identify obstacles and opportunities

Rockefeller Habit #6: Reporting and analysis of customer feedback data is as frequent and accurate as financial data

Rockefeller Habit #7: Core values and purpose are “alive” in the organization

Rockefeller Habit #8: Employees can articulate the key components of the company’s strategy accurately

Rockefeller Habit #9: All employees can answer quantitatively whether they had a good day or week

Rockefeller Habit #10: The company’s plans and performance are visible to everyone

Accountability is no longer hard to measure since the entire plan is visible to everyone throughout the organization. Each part of your team should have key people accountable for every functional part of your organization. No more guessing is required. I’ve read countless books about leadership, performance management and goal setting, as I’ve been an avid student on the subject for decades.

These ten habits, once adopted and measured regularly, can change any organization that wants to grow and scale, and keep everyone accountable along the way.

See more on Leadership

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