Keep your finance team close: Why Artesia General Hospital’s IT director values internal partnerships

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For the past five years, Eric Jimenez has served as the director of information at Artesia (N.M) General Hospital. 

Prior to his current role, Mr. Jimenez served as the IT site manager at Phoenix Health Systems. With an extensive IT background, Mr. Jimenez knows what it takes to lead a successful technology team. 

Below, Mr. Jimenez discusses the challenges of interoperability as well as how his team interacts with the finance team at Artesia General Hospital. 

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

Question: If you could solve one health IT challenge/headache overnight, what would it be and why? 

Eric Jimenez: Interoperability is the biggest headache everyone is having, especially from my perspective. At Artesia General Hospital, we operate in a rural town and are a referral source for other providers. However, we are not able to communicate other than faxing. A lot of the reason behind this is because the referring provider's EMR isn't savvy enough or the physician isn't savvy enough. 

Our ability to share data is very limited. Across the board, from rural to urban hospitals, there is a lack of shared data. Without being able to easily share data we are putting our patients at risk. The ability to share data among providers is important for care. 

Q: How does finance play a role in IT efforts at your hospital? As an IT leader, do you and the finance team interact closely?  

EJ: Finance is a huge factor for IT efforts. I've worked in a very small hospital where funding was a huge factor. At the hospital, we were not day to day operations; rather we had to make sure that what we spent money on would take us to the next level when providing care. 

Here at Artesia General Hospital, I've been blessed that we are well supported by the community. In the five years I've been here, we went from a paper format to almost completely digital. That couldn't have been done without the financial backing or support from our team. Selling the digital vision to the finance team was important. 

This interaction with the finance team is viewed as a partnership. As IT leaders we need to have some financial sense. We must know the risks associated with every piece of technology we put in place. 

Q: What is the key character trait for a successful IT team? 

EJ: Trust is the biggest factor. Building a circle of safety has been my strategy for the past three years. I've had to go through a transformation as a leader. Before I started going through the transition with my team, I heard among employees that there was a lack of trust. 

Simon Sinek said, “We will have a work-life balance when we feel safe at home and when we feel safe at work.” This has been my driving force and has changed my department for the better. I created an environment where employees could fail, and the rest of the team would help to pick up the pieces. 

As a leader, I am always transparent with my team. This isn't so much telling them what I'm about to do; rather explaining why I made that decision. Over time, trust is built and secured. 

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