5 key thoughts on health IT leadership from BIDMC CIO Dr. John Halamka and CHIME CEO Russell Branzell

The health IT industry is facing an era of uncertainty and constant change. IT leaders are tasked with the dual responsibility of navigating choppy waters while maintaining an eye to what comes after the current waves subside.

John Halamka, MD, CIO of Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Russell Branzell, president and CEO of CHIME, spoke at the opening address to the CHIME Boston event and shared challenges and thoughts about IT leadership today.

The event was covered by Healthcare Informatics.

Here are five key thoughts on health IT leadership today.

  • Dr. Halamka noted the difficulty of facing change, but also encouraged leaders persevere through consistency. "It's really hard as CIO when things are constantly changing. I've had seven CEOs in my term at Beth Israel Deaconess. So I, as a healthcare IT leader, try to be as open and consistent as possible. I've not ever had a situation that I've suddenly changed course in such a way that people are confused."
  • Dr. Halamka also discussed how to manage multiple demands and requests as CIO. "People say, 'Okay, I get it, we need to be prepared for the accountable care future, we need to prepare for care management and care in the home, and even though there's this cool project that some stakeholder wants, we really don't have the bandwidth for that.' And so what not to do is as important as what to do, because each of us gets this laundry list of hundreds of things that stakeholders want….The technique I usually use is not to say 'No.' 'No' is such a negative word, so loaded with emotion. So, I say, 'Not now.' My role on the resource side is not to create fear, uncertainty and doubt, but to explain to the board what we need to do."
  • Mr. Branzell discussed the need for "radical change" to move the industry forward. "Radical change is what will save this industry, and that's a tough one for us because we don't want to stick our necks out."
  • Mr. Branzell also shared some advice from John Glaser, former CIO of Boston-based Partners Healthcare. "Russ, don't be afraid to get fired," he said, quoting Mr. Glaser. "Your fear of being fired will keep you from doing what is right and what is important."

More articles on IT leadership:

Life of a healthcare CIO: UnityPoint Health's Joy Grosser
Anthem aftermath: CIOs and IT leaders recall what they did right after the attack
10 management must-reads for CIOs

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