Leadership responsibilities of a CMIO & improving patient care: Q&A with CMIO Dr. Sarah Kramer

Sarah Kramer, MD, chief medical information officer at Yuma (Ariz.) Regional Medical Center, discusses the importance of building relationships with physicians and hearing their opinions on how to improve patient care.

Responses are lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: Can you share your best advice for motivating your teams?

Dr. Sarah Kramer: The most sustainable technique is to continuously relate the work of our analysts to improving patient care and the caregiver experience. A useful analogy is to think of our roles as being what stagecraft is to theater, where our job is to manage the environment and allow the actors to perform their best, hopefully thrilling the audience with the production value.

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

SK: That is a great question. In my current role, most of our physicians are highly independent. Even those that share a practice have strong beliefs about how they want to practice medicine. There is no substitute for high-touch and proactive customer service, so I try to get out and among them, to build continuous relationships and make sure I'm hearing directly from them what's working well for them, and where improvements are needed. For example, we are rolling out electronic prescribing of controlled substances, so I’ve been going to many department meetings and also having lots of direct conversations with our physicians.

Q: What is the No. 1 thing you wish you knew before taking a leadership post at your organization?

SK: There is no substitute for understanding all the hidden relationships that exist in an organization that you've recently joined. Even if you have been with an organization for a while, becoming a leader exposes relationships and connections that were not visible before. It takes time to find these tacit connections and channels of communication.

Q: In the past 12 months, how have you adapted to new patient experience expectations in the age of consumerism?

SK: I'm not sure that consumer expectations have changed much in just the past year. What seems to be changing is physician acceptance that patient experience is not optional. Many of our physician leaders are stepping up and evangelizing among their peers. I partner with these clinical leaders to show how technology can help us be competitive with our patients and make them want to stay in our health system.

To learn more about clinical informatics and health IT, 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.

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