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.

Breaking News: Cerner President Zane Burke to step down this fall

Breaking news from Healthcare IT News that Cerner President, Zane Burke will step down this fall. After having spent two decades at the organization, starting in 1996, Burke plans to step down sometime this fall.

John Peterzalek, Cerner’s executive vice president of worldwide client relationships, will take on Burke’s responsibilities. In recent years, Burke was instrumental in helping the company win the Department of Defense and Veteran’s Affairs EHR modernization contracts.

More in the article here

CSO HIMSS Fall Conference 2017

For those of you that follow this blog, you’ll be happy to hear that the Central & Southern Ohio HIMSS Chapter’s Fall 2017 conference on October 13th at the Savannah Center in West Chester OH is all about our favorite topic.

The title is “Interoperability: The Holy Grail of Healthcare.” Register here for Early Registration discounts. See you there!

Are EHR vendors becoming Population Health corporations?

An interesting article surfaced in Healthcare IT News that suggested that executives at some healthcare software vendors want to transform themselves from generically being deemed as an EHR vendor and become a Population Health company like Cerner’s CEO Zane Burke told Healthcare IT News. 

Being able to access data relevant for patient care should be possible regardless of the format it is presently in or whether it is in an EHR,  national database or in pdf format. 
The constraints that “EHRs” are presently may not allow for this functionality  (yet). The article goes on to state that providers are also moving towards precision medicine, accountable care management, chronic care management and value based reimbursement. 
Movement for many on the ground is still in the initial stages and only those provider organizations with deep pockets and the ability to leverage collaborative working relationships with solution vendors can think about moving forward with all of the initiatives mentioned above in a meaningful way. 

Truly Epic! R&D Spending sensation 


In a story published on September 13th , 2016 by Healthcare IT News (HIT News), Epic Systems’ founder Judy Faulkner  ( just ‘ Judy’ to many in the Healthcare IT world) revealed that Epic invested something like 50% of its operating expenses on research and development, outstripping all organization in and out of the Healthcare IT ecosystem. 

HIT News verified through federal filings that Cerner spent 19%, Allscripts spent 34% and athrnahealth was at 10%. Google spent 45% of its operating expenses on R&D  (or $12 billion) and seemed to be the closest when it came to a percentage of operating budget. 

The thought that ran through my mind was ” Has this translated to better and more efficient and streamlined patient care at Epic’s customers versus provider organizations that have implemented a competing product? I’m all for R&D and believe that it’s really what makes America great  (I don’t think we’ve lost the ‘greatness’ since 1776 when the Founding Fathers declared independence, but that’s another story for another day). The technology of the 21st century has indeed been spurred by American innovation and ingenuity  (Facebook,  Twitter and the entire world of Social Media). R&D brings us medicines that have been life changing to many and previously were inconceivable even in the latter part of the 20th century, but with the cost of patient care rising and many Americans wondering how to get them within reasonable limits anymore, does this only add to our costs in the patient community or will it be the savior of millions and have a lasting impact for the country and the world. Makes you think. …