Being a CIO is all about relationships: How Titus Regional Medical Center's CIO is using his expertise to improve patient experience

At Titus Regional Medical Center in Mount Pleasant, Texas, CIO Tim Pugsley is working on how to better leverage its recently launched Epic EHR. 

An experienced CIO, Mr. Pugsley has served as the head of IT at Titus Regional Medical Center for the past four years. Prior to his current role, he was the CIO of a specialty hospital in Omaha, Neb. 

Below, Mr. Pugsley discusses what Titus Regional Medical Center is doing to improve the patient experience as well as what it takes to be a CIO. 

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length. 

Question: What are you doing at your hospital to improve the patient experience and outcomes?

Tim Pugsley:I lead initiatives that center around using data and analytics to improve the patient experience and outcomes. Every Monday morning the leaders on the acute side meet at 8:30 a.m. These meetings are to discuss patient experience. Then at noon, we have a session with all of the ambulatory leaders.

Our focus at these weekly events is around organizational culture and the impact that it has on our patient experience. We review the feedback from our patients and establish tactics throughout our health system to change leading indicators that affect lagging indicators. By shifting our focus to actionable steps for improvement, we are putting ownership of change in the hands of the directors to make change.

We have seen great results with our actions over recent months. TRMC recently implemented Epic and the transition had a negative impact on patient experience. Through a collaborative focus in all service areas within TRMC, we have experienced a 12-point gain in the 2019 calendar year and we continue to trend positively. This is a huge success and can be attributed to all the leaders that are making changes within their respective departments.

On the last Monday of every month, we review previous reporting period data throughout our patient survey results. From this data, our health system will determine where we stand on a national, regional, like size and local level. Then, our patient experience lead will engage with all of the department directors to review success stories and opportunities for improvement. Each department will gain insight on where they stand nationally and on local benchmarks. Directors are responsible to develop actionable steps to improve patient experience and the results of those actions are shared with the team the following month.

Q: Who do you go for advice?

TP: I'm a member of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, and I believe it's a tremendous organization. Most recently, I talked to a fellow CIO who is a part of CHIME about some challenges we are experiencing. Many of the challenges we face are similar in other facilities or have been solved at other facilities. Having a professional network of peers allows us to learn from each other and solve problems more effectively. I'm also a member of American College of Healthcare Executives. My former CEO was the regent in our area and strongly encouraged that I become part of this professional network. ACHE has allowed me to get out of the IT space and to think more about healthcare operations. Both of these organizations are excellent resources for healthcare CIOs.

Q: Looking back at your first year as CIO, what would you do differently? What do you wish you had known?

TP:I would have relied on other CIOs and other hospital leaders more earlier in my career. Whether you're in rural healthcare or a big health system, there are similar challenges. We are all here to serve our patients and communities and we should really lean on one another for guidance and feedback.

Being a Healthcare CIO is extremely challenging and rewarding. There is a lot of pressure in our industry on delivering excellence in healthcare. To be successful as a CIO, it is not as much the expertise you have as a technical expert as it is the relationships you create and nurture along the way.

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