The key to highly motivated health IT teams: Q&A with Faith Regional Health Services CIO Brian Sterud

Brian Sterud, CIO at Faith Regional Health Services in Norfolk, Neb., discusses the health system's efforts to communicate with physicians to meet their needs as well as his best advice for fostering highly motivated teams.

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

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

Brian Sterud: My best advice is to recognize efforts and achievements in a timely manner, which isn't always the easiest to accomplish depending on the daily pace of everyone's schedules. Further, we focus on providing opportunities for a little fun outside of work. While you might think everyone wouldn't want to spend more time together after work, we've had great attendance. I think that's part of the key, to have a team that enjoys each other's company, even when they're not 'forced' to be together. This type of camaraderie can foster increased productivity because team members enjoy each other and have each other's back.

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

BS: This is a challenge for every organization. Currently, we are in the beginning phases of an EMR migration. We developed a communication plan that involves many different methods of communication and frequencies. We realize that we need to reach physicians in different ways and are attempting to meet those needs via a multi-pronged approach. One portion of this strategy is attending every medical staff committee meeting and providing an update. I give one to three bullet points on what's going on with the EMR that month and that same update is given to every committee. We have been intentional about the visibility and hope this pays off throughout the project.

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

BS: It goes without saying that every organization is unique and, therefore, their culture is unique. The quicker you can understand the culture of an organization, the faster you can facilitate change and become effective in your position.

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

BS: We recently deployed a virtual health application. This is aimed directly at consumerism. We believe this application separates itself based on how the patient is engaged. It is not direct-to-video like many offerings currently in the market.

Furthermore, we ensure that our patients only see one of our providers. Thus, any follow-up on care is within the same physician group and allows for full availability of the data in real time.

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