OSF Healthcare's CIO: 4 unconventional characteristics to a successful IT team

Jim Mormann has served as the CIO at Peoria, Ill.-based OSF Healthcare for more than nine years.

Throughout his career, Mr. Mormann has witnessed changes in healthcare, including the rise in cybersecurity threats and transition from paper to electronic records.

Below, Mr. Mormann shares his thoughts on one of healthcare's biggest challenges as well as the key characteristics for a successful IT team.

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

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

Jim Mormann: Cybersecurity is one of the most difficult areas organizations face daily. The number of threats and access points for hackers is expansive. While organizations have various measures to prevent cybersecurity incidents, it only takes one occurrence to take an entire system down. Hospitals and health systems hire experts and conduct training seminars, but it still only takes one user to put an organization at risk. 

On top of cybersecurity being a large issue in healthcare, it also requires a tremendous amount of investment in time and dollars. The number of attacks that come through a hospital or health system are staggering. Most IT departments work to keep these attacks from coming through and preventing users from falling into traps. But hackers continue to get better. Hackers are sharpening their tool sets. So, while healthcare organizations are working to combat all cybersecurity threats, hackers simply have to gain access a single time. 

Q: What has been one innovation that you implemented to improve patient experience? 

JM: For me, I have to ask what has the biggest impact. This often goes by the wayside without people paying much attention: MyChart from Epic. The reason this is so important is because it gives patients the opportunity to view a provider's notes. It allows patients to do open scheduling. MyChart provides lab activity, billing activity and serves as a communication vehicle. It is a one stop piece of technology that is designed to improve patient care, both on an inpatient and outpatient side. MyChart often gets overlooked because people want to look at the glitz and buzz applications, but if you get down to the core, MyChart is the product that interacts the most with our users. 

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

JM: There are four traits that IT professions in healthcare need: compassion, positive attitude, integrity and hard work. You can take these same characteristics and apply them anywhere. While I can teach a lot of things in IT, I can't teach these key attributes. 

If you can pick these characteristics out, you can move them through technology. If you think about computer science graduates, part of their job is interacting with the business. In healthcare, these same graduates have to think about how products and solutions touch patients. This makes compassion really important. Attitude becomes an important issue because if I ask a new employee to do a different task than what they already know, I can't have someone who is stuck and ingrained in one area. 

As cybersecurity becomes more of an issue, integrity is vital. Hard work is also necessary because the work is never ending. We do not have enough time of the day or labor because of the constant demands that people are asking in the technology space. Technology is an integral part of every business department now. In healthcare, technology may have been involved in 50 percent of the business, but now, you can't survive anywhere without technology. 

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