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.

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