Becker's Speaker Series: 4 questions with ProMedica Health System's CIO, Lori Johnston

Lori A. Johnston serves as Chief Information Officer for ProMedica Health System.

On Friday, September 22, Ms. Johnston will speak on a panel at Becker's Hospital Review 3rd Annual Health IT + Revenue Cycle Conference. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference, which will take place September 21 through September 23 in Chicago.

To learn more about the conference and Ms. Johnson's session, click here.

Question: Looking at your IT budget, what is one item or expense that has surprised you in terms of ROI? How so?


Lori Johnston: There are actually two that come to mind. The first was negative and is the investment we made in patient kiosks when we started our Epic implementation. We purchased about a dozen kiosks and to date have only implemented two. They have proven to not provide the benefits we initially thought. We have not had good adoption by patients, and we have not been able to reduce any people in the process so it has just added cost and frustration to the registration process.

The second is a positive, and that is the adoption of MModal by our providers. This technology has been overwhelmingly successful and has allowed us to reduce our transcription costs faster than we ever imagined. The return was immediate and extremely positive.

Q: Finding top tech talent is always a challenge. Say a CIO called you up today to ask for an interview question that would distinguish the best candidates from the mid- to low-performers. What question do you suggest he or she ask?

LJ: I just hired a new CTO, so this is timely. There are three key things I asked that distinguished candidates for me: 1) What are your strategies for cybersecurity protection and risk mitigation? 2) How do you balance all of the technology advances available with an ROI in an industry where we have not successfully reduced other costs when we implement new technology? 3) Ask them to explain something extremely technical in layman terms — this is a critical skill as we continue to work closely between operational teams and technical teams.

Q: We spend a lot of timing talking about the exciting innovation modernizing healthcare. It's also helpful to acknowledge what we've let go of. What is one form of technology, one process or one idea that once seemed routine to you but is now endangered if not extinct? What existed in your organization 2-5 years ago but not anymore?

LJ: Transcription has almost totally disappeared as we have deployed voice to text. We have also tried to standardize our software applications and get away from niche products for every department at every site in our organization. Those are two big changes.

Q: Tell us about the last time you were truly, wildly amazed by technology. What did you see?

LJ: I recently viewed 3-D technology utilized in the medical school to train students on anatomy and physiology. The demonstration included software projected on multiple screens in a classroom, as well as virtual reality headsets. It is the future of training — cadavers be gone!

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