The Life and Journey of a Healthcare IT PMO Leader

I recently had a chance to interview one of my Healthcare IT mentors, a long time (behind the scenes) Healthcare IT Advocate, my Manager, Rick Haucke about his journey to managing the Integrated Services team at UC Health in Cincinnati. Rick’s instincts and experience has proven to be a great combination to lead and manage the Project Management Office at UC Health. Read on for my interview with him.

Question: Rick, tell us a little about your background
Rick: I started in Healthcare back in 1992 as a co-op working at University of Cincinnati Barret Cancer Center. My first job was to develop a Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) database for the department to track their patients and conditions. Oh and by the way I used a product called DataEase to create the database. I then joined Shriner’s Hospital in Cincinnati in 1993 to setup their first PC network with email, WordPerfect, Lotus Notes and Harvard Graphics. In addition, to setting up the new network and PC’s/Printers I also maintained a Digital DEC system (and wow were those the days!). The formation of the Health Alliance in Cincinnati in 1998 allowed me the opportunity to join a newly formed company in 1999, of a group of hospitals in the Greater Cincinnati area (St. Luke East and St. Luke West in Northern Kentucky; The Christ Hospital, Jewish Hospital, University Hospital, Drake Hospital in Cincinnati and Fort Hamilton Hospital in Hamilton). During my time at the Health Alliance I was a Technical Analyst, Manager of Help Desk and Manager of Desktop/Configuration/Deployment. Finally in 2011 Health Alliance folded and UC Health was born. I have been the Manager of Integrated Services (PMO, Interface, Web Services, IT Quality) since 2009.

Question: When you came to manage the PMO, what were the things you knew and what did you have to learn on the job?
Rick: I knew process, organization and communication with a history in Technical troubleshooting and development. In my years as Desktop Manager I relied heavily on the PMO to implement tools, refresh aged equipment and implement new technologies. However, I was in the SME or Stakeholder role. The majority of my time was spent understanding the tool(s) and the detail behind our methodology.

Question: How have things changed in Project Management and for you and your team in particular since you first started in this position?
Rick: Many things have changed like personnel, technology, software, vendors etc., but on the other had not much has changed since projects from the past just manifest themselves into a new project with a new name, different dates and a revised cost. The biggest change that I see is the use of data. Most project leverage data as points within the project or project completion. The big challenge is the use of the data to sustain a solution, system or application to better the department or system. People still struggle with the concept that the system, solution or application is not the end, but instead how the people use it to better the department or system.

Question: What do you think has changed in Healthcare Information Technology since you first started in the field?
Rick: Data and lots of it. GB were big back in the day and now TB and PB are part of regular conversation. The one thing that did not change was the reduction in paper. With so much data being stored you would think paper usage would go way down, but I still have not seen it.

Question: How do you and your team keep up to date with changing technologies?
Rick: I personally leverage internet, articles, emails, regional HIMSS Chapter events and conferences. The staff usually learns about technologies tied to the specific projects that they are assigned.

Question: What would your career advice be for individuals who are interested in getting into and learning about Healthcare Information Technology?
Rick: I advise them to partner with a healthcare professional. There is so much of an opportunity in HIT that an entire career and then some could be filled in Healthcare and you would never get bored. However, to get into healthcare you must have the passion and desire to make the world a better place. We don’t make widgets to sell on the open market to make a profit.

Question: What are some of your professional life’s lessons learned?
Rick: Follow what makes you happy! When you have a bad day you need to be able to bounce back the next day with renewed energy and passion to make it a better day!

Rick, thank you so much for your support of this blog, for being a true advocate for great patient care through healthcare information technology.

Inspirational HIT Insights – A HIMSS19 Experience

So, the best thing that happened to me last week at HIMSS19 was getting an opportunity to meet a speaker that I have found to be very inspirational, was Dr. John D. Halamka, International Healthcare Innovation Professor at Harvard Medical School and CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess System at a Lunch and Learn hosted by Arcadia on February 13th. Dr. Halamka spoke about his travels around the world and talked about visits to remote villages of Bihar in Northern India and how, while many people in that country have little to no access to regular healthcare facilities, but have access to 4G technology and $30 for a 64mb mobile android phone. 

In a country of 1.3 billion people, there are only about 600 thousand healthcare providers! The shortfall is tremendous! He and his team treated a woman named Pooja who had to sell her cow to get uncessary medical treatment recommended by individuals posing as healthcare providers. He and his team started a Gofundme to buy her cow back which he was able to! That, my friends is a provider that has empathy! Way to go Dr. Halamka!

In cities in China where people wake up and decide they want to go to the doctor (he noted that there were no primary care providers) hospitals sometimes get 20 thousand ambulatory visits a day! Managing such a volume can challenge even the most dedicated healthcare provider. It might be difficult to understand quality metrics in that environment, at least from our point of view.

Before I left the session, I had to ask Dr. Halamka about what he feels about the Holy Grail of seamless interoperability nationwide. He pointed me to the Argonaut Project which he has great hope for and believes is a good step in moving us towards that elusive, yet hopeful goal of healthcare interoperability. Needless to say, I came away with a lot of hope and positivity after that amazing session with Dr. Halamka.

The picture of Dr. Halamka can be found on his blog, “Life as a Healthcare CIO“, which I recommend everyone to follow.

 

Employment in the Generation of AI

As we get closer to HIMSS19 and people turn their sights to Orlando starting February 11th, my focus will be on Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain and their potential impact on our healthcare ecosystem.

One of the impacts that I believe will possibly result in their adoption in whatever way, will be the change of jobs that we currently have and introduce additional automation. There is an interesting article published today in the BBC about this. One of the points that the article makes is that according to the consulting firm McKinsey, globally, we are set to lose as many as 800 million workers by robotic automation. It was staggering to see that number.

Are educational institutions educating our students for today or will these students of today already be “automated out” of the workforce as with many others in society. Time will tell. Read the article here for more insights.

Cancer rate decline & Oncology Care Model

A great article about the decline of cancer death rate over a 25 year period. The article talks about how the rate of dying of cancer has reduced by 27% which is a huge considering that it translates to about 2.6 million fewer cancer related deaths in the United States. Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide. Programs from CMS like the Oncology Care Model that I’ve recently had the opportunity to work on, have made an impact for cancer patients nationwide by providing higher quality and better coordinated oncology care at the same or lower cost to Medicare for many patients.

Check out the article. https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/08/health/cancer-death-rate-decline-us-study/index.html

Healthcare Pricing Transparency

On January 1st, 2019, a curious thing happened. Healthcare provider organizations started to disclose patient pricing on their websites. CMS identified for all US hospitals that they make a list of current standard hospital charges in a machine readable format. To those who know me well, know that I have been advocating this move for many years and I am glad that CMS finally focused in this for patients to see the cost of their care up front.

Check out https//s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2018-16766.pdf for more information.

Happy New Year 2019

Here’s wishing all the readers of Healthcare Interoperability a very happy and healthy 2019. What will 2019 hold in store for us in the Healthcare IT ecosystem? How will we handle disruption? How will we leverage Artificial Intelligence in our daily lives in healthcare? As the ball drops, think about how our lives might change in 2019.

Keep smiling and thanks for reading Healthcare Interoperability.