In San Diego, Healthcare IT Leaders Talked Culture—in Many Contexts | Mark Hagland | Healthcare Blogs Skip to content Skip to navigation

In San Diego, Healthcare IT Leaders Talked Culture—in Many Contexts

February 5, 2018
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At the San Diego Health IT Summit last week, the concept of culture kept cropping up in discussion of all kinds

So many great discussions and interactions took place during the Health IT Summit in San Diego last week, sponsored by our publication, Healthcare Informatics. Whether the subject was “The Evolution of the Senior IT Executive: Strategic Roadmaps for Value-Driven IT,” the title of a panel discussion that I was privileged to be able to moderate, with several leading CIOs and healthcare IT leaders participating; or the cybersecurity panels on day 2 of the Summit; or the opening keynote, delivered by Michael Restuccia, vice president and CIO of the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) Health System, one striking element last week was the extent to which human factors—especially culture and leadership—figured prominently in all the discussions in San Diego.

Discussing his assertive leadership over the past several years to move Penn Medicine forward in terms of healthcare IT advancement, Restuccia, who’s been at Penn Medicine for 11 years now, nine of them as CIO, used some of his time in his keynote address to talk about the significance of culture in relation to his leading IT in the organization.

Restuccia put it to his audience this way: “Two things about Penn Medicine: it’s obviously big—we’re six hospitals now, and a $7 billion organization, and we now stretch from Lancaster [County, Pennsylvania] to the Atlantic Ocean” (in Delaware). “And it has a Quaker heritage, and that’s our culture. And my point on this is, you’ve got to know our culture,” Restuccia said. “The Quaker culture involves cooperation and discussion. As a result, nothing happens really fast, and decisions require a lot of discussion, but once they’re made, things move fast. Learning the culture was tough for me. I learned it, after making some edicts that got smacked back at me.” Importantly, he remarked, “In 2007, almost all of the IT was outsourced to a third-party firm. There weren’t a lot of really good relationships between IS and the departments; there wasn’t a good consultative approach.” As a result, he said, “The IS culture really didn’t align very well with the world-renowned research and clinical care taking place there.” In other words, one key to the successful forward evolution of the IS team and enterprise at Penn Medicine has absolutely been understanding the culture of the organization at Penn Medicine, and moving forward in concert with it, rather than working against it.

The theme of culture came up repeatedly during the panel “The Evolution of the Senior IT Executive: Strategic Roadmaps for Value-Driven IT,” which I had the privilege and pleasure to moderate. Indeed, our panel discussion immediately followed Michael Restuccia’s keynote, and Restuccia himself was one of my panelists, along with Chris Longhurst, M.D., the CIO at UC San Diego Health; Audrius Polikaitis, assistant vice president of health information technology and CIO at the University of Illinois Hospital Health Sciences System, based in Chicago; and Clark Kegley, assistance vice president, information services, at Scripps Health (San Diego). Among the themes that emerged during that panel discussion was the importance of healthcare IT leaders learning and understanding how to work with their colleagues in their organizations, in ways that have matched the norms of their organizational cultures, even as they strive to lead their organizations. For CIOs and other healthcare IT leaders, it’s always a tricky dance, requiring the need to “fit in” to their organizational cultures while also being change agents and true leaders.

And the theme of culture even came up in the cybersecurity panels on day 2 of the Health IT Summit.

For example, towards the end of the panel discussion entitled “Ransomware Risks: What We Learned From NotPETYA and WannaCry,” during the question and answer portion of the session, Clark Kegley, the assistant vice president of information services at Scripps Health, who had participated on panels the previous day, but who was an audience member during this panel discussion, said, “Historically, IT was assigned the disaster recovery part, and the business had the business continuity part. How do you bridge that gap?” he asked the panel.

“At Sharp,” responded Chris Convey, vice president, IT risk management, and CISO at the San Diego-based Sharp Healthcare, “we go around and talk with the various leaders of the various segments of our organization. And part of this job is going around and really talking to the leadership and saying, we don’t mean to scare you, but this is where we need your help. There’s no way I can think of to approach this, other than with that level of cooperation.”

“About a year and a half ago, our board listed disaster recovery as a key issue for the organization,” noted Stan Banash, CISO at Children’s Hospital of Orange County (in Orange, California). “At that time, when I was brought into the conversation, the COO was already involved. And I was able to shift the conversation rom DR and to business resiliency. And in the end, they put together a steering committee for business resiliency; and we’ve created a new position for business resiliency, under the COO. And so that issue has been addressed.”

And yes, all of those elements cited by Messrs. Convey and Banash speak to the importance of culture. Indeed, CISOs and CIOs are finding that, in their efforts to educate their colleagues on cybersecurity, they need to help create cultures of security in their organizations. Cybersecurity, and data and IT security in general, can’t be the “job of IS” in any patient care organization; it has to be woven into the warp and weft of a patient care organization’s culture; after all, every patient care organization has countless points of cyber-vulnerability, in the guise of every end-user—and that makes healthcare an industry that faces almost unique cybersecurity challenges. As I like to say when I reference those challenges, all any hospital-based organization needs to fall victim to the evildoers is for Dottie in Accounting to open an innocent-looking email with the subject line, “About Your FedEx Package.” Of course Dottie opens the email—who wouldn’t? And thus begins a ransomware nightmare. What every one of the healthcare IT security leaders on that panel agreed on, was the need to create cultures of data and IT security, given that patient care organizations in healthcare are almost uniquely vulnerable to cyberattacks, given that they have thousands of end-users whose actions can quickly endanger their data and IT security. So the solution is necessarily enterprise-wide and cultural.

All of this speaks to a fundamental set of challenges and opportunities for CIOs, CMIOs, and other healthcare IT leaders. Whatever their technical and professional capabilities and expertise, healthcare IT leaders need to ally their skills to their organizations’ cultural norms; being change agents can never be achieved in a vacuum.

So in the end, while it’s not surprising, it is worth underscoring the people skills that healthcare IT leaders will need to hone and leverage, in order to move their organizations forward around strategic IT priorities. And it was fascinating to have that point underscored regularly at our Health IT Summit in San Diego last week—by CIOs, CISOs, and pretty much everyone else.



2018 Raleigh Health IT Summit

Renowned leaders in U.S. and North American healthcare gather throughout the year to present important information and share insights at the Healthcare Informatics Health IT Summits.

September 27 - 28, 2018 | Raleigh


Why A.I. Will Never Replace Recruiters

September 12, 2018
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AI can be a great tool, but recruiters aren’t going away

I remember fear settling in like a big dark cloud when I opened my search practice in 2005 with all the dire predictions of how the Internet and all the online hiring websites were going to put recruiters out of business. Many articles were written on the demise of the recruiter as would literally scare us out of business.

Then came other job opening aggregators like, ZipRecruiter and a whole host of other websites chasing HR gold as if there was a switch they could simply flip to eliminate the human touch that recruiters bring to the table with engaging candidates, only to be replaced by a text message alert or an email notification of all the new jobs that were now open. The only thing they were missing were qualified applicants.

These predictions never came true and all the prognosticators simply forgot what recruiters actually do every day that their technologies will never replace. CIOs need to remember the critical nature of hiring leaders and team members for key roles in their organization. Candidates need to be vetted and coached to listen to an opportunity to join your team when we call the candidates. You have to remember:

  • We talk with people. Yes, we use a cell phone, or now a VOIP phone, and actually engage in a dialogue with candidates about opportunities. It’s a novel approach—I get it.
  • We engage with people that will never look on those job posting sites because they are not looking for a new job. Period.
  • We contact passive candidates that up until our call were never going to leave their job because they are so focused on the now that they don’t even think about looking on a website for a job they are not even interested in.
  • We help clients and candidates come together on the right offer and provide two-way communication during the hiring process, so each party has a deep understanding of the other party’s point of view. Online sites—well you get the picture…
  • We hammer out the details of relocation packages with our clients and the candidates and their families to make sure the move is done smoothly to allow the family to begin their transition to a new city. It’s the personal touch that matters here because we are dealing with people’s lives.

Fast forward: The next wave of artificial intelligence (AI) products for hiring are cropping up everywhere and we are hearing similar calls for recruiters to give up and retreat as the latest algorithm and data analytics tools are able to speed up the hiring process supplanting recruiters. Within seconds, these tools are touting they can determine who the perfect candidates are based on the analytics and machine learning tools designed for hiring. Guess what? It won’t happen.

AI can be a great tool, but it falls dreadfully short of meeting hiring managers' expectations. It won’t wave a magic wand suddenly making hiring enjoyable and much quicker with the same quality as the work performed by most search firms. I’ve been in technology in some form or fashion for a very long time. I love technology and what technology can do to speed up productivity and actionable data I can use every day in the work we do. It’s awesome!

But to be clear, I’m not going away. I have seen this movie before and I am fairly certain I can tell you how it ends. The work recruiters do to find and recruit great talent is something humans must do.

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Cerner President Zane Burke to Step Down This Fall

September 10, 2018
by Heather Landi, Associate Editor
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Cerner president Zane Burke, who first joined the company in 1996, will step down November2, the Kansas City, Mo-based electronic health record (EHR) company announced today.

“Cerner has been a disruptive force of positive change across health care throughout its history, and I’m pleased with the accomplishments we’ve achieved together with our clients and the broader industry community,” Burke said in a statement. “Complex and evolving challenges remain, and Cerner is uniquely positioned to continue innovating for the good of consumers and health care providers.”

 “We thank Zane for his contributions to Cerner across more than two decades,” Cerner Chairman and CEO Brent Shafer said in a statement. “Zane leaves the company with a strong client focus and commitment to continued innovation, partnership and sustainable growth deeply engrained in our culture and leadership philosophy. I am very confident in the capabilities of Cerner’s strong and experienced leadership team.”

John Peterzalek, executive vice president of worldwide client relationships, will assume Burke’s responsibilities and the title of Chief Client Officer.

Since joining Cerner in 1996, Burke had a range of executive positions across sales, implementation, support and finance. He was named President in 2013 after leading Cerner’s client organization. Burke came to Cerner in 1996 from the consultant KPMG, and has held a number of positions in the company, including president of Cerner west from 2003 to 2011, and, more recently, executive vice president of Cerner's client organization.

During his five years as president, Burke has been involved in a number of significant deals, including playing an instrumental role in Cerner winning two massive EHR modernization contracts, first with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) in 2015, a $4.3 billion contract, and then just this past May, with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in a $10 billion contract.

During Burke’s tenure, Cerner also completed one of the biggest deals in healthcare IT history with the acquisition of Siemens healthcare IT business for $1.3 billion in 2014.

The Kansas City Business Journal reported on September 4 that Burke had exercised option to sell nearly $10 million in stock.


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Leadership Changes at HHS as CIO Transferred to New Role

August 21, 2018
by Heather Landi, Associate Editor
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Beth Killoran is stepping out of the role of CIO at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and is moving over to a new role at the Office of the Surgeon General, within HHS.

The news was first reported by Federal News Radio. In an email, a HHS official confirmed that Killoran, who stepped up to the HHS CIO role in July 2016, has joined the Office of the Surgeon General at HHS to develop a "comprehensive information systems strategic plan for the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.”

The HHS official also confirmed that Ed Simcox, the HHS Chief Technology Officer, will take on the added role of serving as the HHS Acting CIO, until a permanent selection is made. “Simcox has led multiple, large IT transformation efforts, both as an industry executive and consultant. As HHS’s CTO, he leads HHS’s efforts on enterprise data management, data sharing, technology-related healthcare innovation, and public-private partnerships,” the official said via email.

Simcox started as the HHS CTO in July after serving as acting CTO starting in May and deputy CTO since July 2017, according to Federal News Radio.

Killoran began working at HHS in October 2014, moving over from the Department of Homeland Security. At HHS, she has served as the acting Deputy Chief Information Officer and as the Executive Director for the Office of IT Strategy, Policy and Governance. The HHS official stated that Killoran has served in a number of high-level information technology positions at HHS, “providing leadership on a number of high priority projects.” Killoran also worked for the Department of the Treasury, where she provided IT infrastructure support and operations for over 20,000 employees across 1,500 locations.  During her tenure, she provided IT operational support in response to the 9/11 and Oklahoma City bombing events, the HHS official said.

Federal News Radio reporter Jason Miller reported that, during her time as HHS CIO, Killoran tried to move the agency forward in a number of areas through an updated strategic plan and a more aggressive approach to cloud adoption. “Recently, Killoran led a reorganization of the CIO’s office, naming Todd Simpson as the first chief product officer and promoting innovation,” Miller wrote.

Killoran becomes the fourth major agency CIO to be reassigned during the Trump administration, joining former Treasury Department CIO Sonny Bhagowalia, former Agriculture Department CIO Jonathan Alboum and FEMA CIO Adrian Gardner, according to Federal News Radio’s reporting.

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