5 questions with Deanna Wise, CIO of Dignity Health

San Francisco-based Dignity Health CIO Deanna Wise believes CIOs need to look beyond technology in the hospital and instead readjust their focus on what the consumer wants and needs.

Ms. Wise has served as executive vice president and CIO of Dignity Health since 2011. She previously held the CIO role at numerous other health systems, including Phoenix-based Maricopa Integrated Health System and Nashville, Tenn.-based Vanguard Health Systems, which merged with Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare in 2013.EVP & CIO Deanna Wise

Becker's Hospital Review caught up with Ms. Wise to discuss what she looks for in a leader, the last memorable thing she read and what CIOs should keep an eye on in 2017.

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: What other CIOs do you look up to and why?

Deanna Wise: For fear that I will miss someone in my answer, I'll describe what I aspire to be in a leader. I look for someone whose communication is extremely strong, no matter what level of leadership you're at. I look for someone who's a collaborator, outcomes-driven and compassionate. You have to have a team that keeps moving to the next initiative, but you also have to be compassionate toward the people you work with.

I also think about blend. People have different needs at different hours, and in this day and age, we need to realize that team members are going to have different needs at different times. In addition, I aspire to be a leader that empowers my team.

I realize that I just described Lloyd Dean, Dignity Health's CEO. I have the luxury of working for a leader I aspire to be.

Q: What's your biggest challenge as a CIO from a day-to-day perspective?

DW: Figuring out how to do more with less but always be innovative. It's challenging to always be trying to outwit your competitors.

Q: What's the last memorable thing you read?

DW: The first thing that comes to mind is The Patient Will See You Now by Eric Topol, MD. It's extremely relevant. Being a patient-consumer is interesting because everybody's a consumer of healthcare. We've spent a lot of time focusing on how to deploy EHR records, but how do we ultimately focus on the consumer?

The book is about moving toward the consumer side of things. Part of meaningful use was to deploy a patient health record. But does it really do what I need it to do as a consumer? Not really. Am I really driven to leverage it? Not really.

Q: What do you think the healthcare IT industry lacks most right now, and what do you see as a solution to fix it?

DW: A focus on the consumer. For example, as a consumer, you want to get test results as quickly as possible.

A solution could be a comparison tool of sorts. We are personally trying to drive toward that as we get our provider schedule online. We've been so busy focused on getting our EHRs online. But now we need to answer the question, "What do we do with the information and how do we use it to change the lives of our patients?"

Q: What is one thing CIOs should focus on or look forward to in 2017?

DW: As all healthcare organizations look for ways to reduce costs, improve the ease of EHR use for physicians and clinicians and innovate for our consumers, we need to focus on how we can get information into the hands of patients so they can be engaged in their health.

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