5 CIOs share how they gain buy-in on new technology

CIOs from five health systems discuss how their organizations develop physician buy-in on new technologies, from fostering cultures of groupness to employing physician leaders for extra support.

Question: How does your organization gain physician buy-in when it is implementing a new technology or solution?

TJ Malseed. Chief Health Information Officer for Keck Medicine of University of Southern California (Los Angeles): Our solutions are born of walking in the shoes of our physicians. That means understanding the day-to-day challenges to streamline their clinical experience, from ambulatory clinic visits to complex procedures in the operating room. Physicians are our partners. We engage them in understanding the process and include them in pilots. We partner with them to achieve the same mission.

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Bill Rieger. CIO of Flagler Hospital (St. Augustine, Fla.): We have worked hard over the last several years to create a culture of inclusion, or groupness as our CFO likes to call it. Nothing is decided without groupness. We connect an initiative to purpose and mission, and as a group, including all stakeholders like the medical staff, we make an investment decision. Predominantly, for physicians, this is accomplished through our physician IT crew, which is led by our CMIO. The PIT crew is a medical staff sanctioned group given authority through bylaws to act as a decision-making body on behalf of the medical staff for technology related initiatives.

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Brett Mello. CIO and Assistant Vice President of Cayuga Health System (Ithaca, N.Y.): Relationships with physicians need to be developed before a new technology or process is considered. Invest in understanding their world and develop trust that you have their best interests at heart first. Spend time with them. Let them talk and listen carefully. Sometimes what they are saying is not what they really mean. Take Stephen Covey's rule to heart — seek first to understand, then be understood.

Next, engage them in the little things before moving to bigger ones. Let them wrestle with less complex challenges or ideas without a high level of clinical or financial pressure. Partnering on easy to implement, high value solutions helps build momentum and energy. This is very difficult to do after you've started a major initiative. Solicit their ideas and let them participate in guiding the direction of the solution. No one likes to be told this is simply how you will do things.

Finally, recognize their contributions in a way that is meaningful to them. This could be financial, in the form of a public announcement or a heartfelt and private handshake and thank you.

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Brian Sterud. CIO of Faith Regional Health Services (Norfolk, Neb.): This is a challenge for every organization. Currently, we are in the beginning phases of an EMR migration. We developed a communication plan that involves many different methods of communication and frequencies. We realize that we need to reach physicians in different ways and are attempting to meet those needs via a multi-pronged approach. One portion of this strategy is attending every medical staff committee meeting and providing an update. I give one to three bullet points on what's going on with the EMR that month and that same update is given to every committee. We have been intentional about the visibility and hope this pays off throughout the project.

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Bernie Clement. CIO of Thibodaux Regional Medical Center (Thibodaux, La.): Physicians are no different than anyone else — they want to be involved in the decisions that impact them. We involve physicians at the start of the design process while avoiding wasting their time on aspects that are more operational than clinical. We make it a point to meet them halfway: arrange meetings around their schedule, allow flexibility in design, even though it may mean more work for [the information systems team], etc. Our Care Transformation initiative leveraging Health Catalyst has been a great success because of its high degree of physician engagement in achieving improved quality, lower cost and greater patient engagement. These teams all have physician leaders who are trained at the start of the project in performance improvement methodologies. It has been a winning strategy for us.

To read the full interview, click here.

To learn more about clinical and IT leadership, register for the Becker's Hospital Review 2nd Annual Health IT + Clinical Leadership Conference May 2-4, 2019 in Chicago. Click here to learn more and register.

To participate in future Becker's Q&As, contact Jackie Drees at jdrees@beckershealthcare.com.

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