This Week Health 5 Years


June 7, 2022: Darren Dworkin, Chief Strategy Officer at Press Ganey  talks with Bill about his former CIO role and how it differs from his new position. Why did he leave his role at Cedars-Senai and make the move to Press Ganey?


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Today on This Week Health.

In my current role, I feel a sense of urgency. But that is nothing, nothing compared to my old role where I think I only understand. How much I was on call until I wasn't on call.

I felt this simultaneous relief, guilt, excitement, and boredom, all tied into one,

Welcome to This Week Health Community. This is TownHall a show hosted by leaders on the front lines with interviews of people making things happen in healthcare with technology. My name is Bill Russell, the creator of This Week Health, a set of channels designed to amplify great thinking to propel healthcare forward. We want to thank our show sponsors Olive, Rubrik, Trellix, Medigate and F5 in partnership with Sirius Healthcare for investing in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders. Now 📍 onto our show.

Alright, here we are from the Scottsdale Institute and we are here with Darren Dworkin, former CIO for Cedar Sinai, and now chief strategy, correct chief strategy officer for press Ganey. I think the question I'd be remiss if I didn't ask was why. I mean, Cedars-Sinai obviously prestigious organization.

You've been there for 16 years, 16 years, very successful tenure. You were not only CIO. I mean, that's the title you had, but you

Only had one title, chief information officer,

because you believed in that, but you also did digital. You also did innovation. You had the accelerator. I mean, you, For those of us on the outside, we were looking and saying you had all the pieces, you had the fun things and the operation speed. So you can get things done.

A wonderful team that helped me do it all.

Yes. Phenomenal team. And Craig just moved into your to your role that was in house this week, which is fantastic.

He's going to do amazing. Couldn't be happier.

So why make the move? You had it all.

I loved what I was doing. Absolutely.

And to the point of always wanting to keep the title of chief information officer, I would as often as I could tell people that I thought it was one of the best titles, the best roles around, and that's really what I wanted to do. And I absolutely enjoy doing it. And the Cedars was an amazing place to practice that craft, but I have to admit that I wanted to try something different and I think some of it came from.

Startups that I worked with and all of the innovators that I work with, where I was apt to give them coaching of, if you have this sort of drive or if you have this sort of big idea, go for it. And I really was interested in sort of trying something new and seeing what it would be like

and press Ganey.

So I think some people might be surprised at that, that press Ganey. You were, You're working with startups and you're saying, man, I really had the feeling for this. And he ended up with press Ganey, which is a fairly large international organization.

It is, it's a great organization.

I thought sort of a lot about it. I wanted to make sure I was practicing all the lessons I learned in academic medical center to think through every option. And every scenario I thought about early stage companies, I thought about perhaps giving my, a hand at a big tech and some of the work that.

Ultimately though I couldn't be happier to be at Press Gainey. And I'll tell you, this is what really sort of sealed it for me. I love the reach and the connection that press Ganey has all across the U S and the customer base, the tremendous amount of penetration all through provider healthcare, a very, very large payer business.

And even more than that, they have this sort of trusted place with partners where they really have the opportunity to talk about. What they're doing and what they would like to do. And I see the opportunity at press Ganey as being nothing but Greenfield ahead, in terms of all the things that we can do.

We came from the conference where we just left a panel that was talking about digital. And what I'll tell you is that I, as I think about digital, one of the things about digital that I was always after was how do you capture the digital experience? And for me, press Ganey is going to an experience company that really understands what it is that motivates people, what it is that drives people, what keeps people from wanting to come back, they build loyalty, all of those things that are maybe more of the outcome side of why we're all pursuing digital and digital disruption.

And so I just really thought that it's just unbelievable organization, but even more than that, it's the time.

It's interesting because your chief medical officer presented this morning and I think his presentation sort of captured what you were talking about. It gave us a really good look at engagement and look at how people are responding, coming out of the pandemic and what are some of the factors and that the numbers were so, well, they're so crisp.

I mean, I just love the numbers. I love how they were putting. It gave me a good feel for what was going on in the industry and whatnot it, after that, I sorta got a picture for this is from this position. Given what's going on in the technology world, given what's going on to the data world, given the team that you've joined, there's this significant potential.

Yeah. And, and look I also want to be really clear, amazing amount of work and effort as we've gone out of press Ganey. Well, before my arrival, and one of the things that they've really honed in on is the opportunity to leverage the information, the data that sits underneath it. And because it rests with a company that really understands healthcare, it's not just data, it's knowledge, it's information, they're able to sort of process and translate what it really means.

So, Tom Lee, who is Dr. Tom Lee, who you heard this. Well, of course was phenomenal. It's not just the data, which in itself is pretty amazing. It's his ability to translate and understand what that means. And for me, what I'm excited about, because I remember this sitting in the CIO seat was you got all this information.

Maybe you had all these applications, or you had all this tooling, but the real question was what were you going to do about it? And I think that press Ganey is really sort of sitting at that epicenter of been able to help people, not just see the information. But no what to do about it.

talk about the culture a little bit, because.

Tom gets up there this morning, the slides, he sort of self-effacing. He says the slides aren't format. He puts up the first slide and it was the title slide. It all had little boxes. We had no idea at the time. He said, let me tell you what the title is. Tell me about the culture of Press Ganey .

Well, first let me just say, as a uh, even a former CIO, I was horrified.

And immediately thought that I don't know why, but somehow that must be my fault because I still have that ingrained piece of anything that goes wrong. Technologically is always the CIO.

Whenever there's an AAV problem in here in the room, it's like, they're just going to pan over and look at you.

Exactly, exactly, exactly. Look w what you saw with Tom, and I think he's the epitome of it is the honesty and the sincerity and the intense. And I think that's a little bit what I mean by being able to be with an organization that can be viewed as a trusted partner.

So talk about the transition from being a CIO.

We're gonna have a larger conversation about this later. I've told people, I think it's one of the hardest jobs in the world and you are at an academic medical center as an idea, a little different set of problems. I mean, I'm going to Texas, I'm going to Northern California. You were primarily focused there, but It's a, it's a hard job.

It's it's yeah,

it is. Well, first let me sort of say this and I mean, this with sincerity, this isn't just sort of one of these things that like everybody is getting used to sort of saying delivering care very, very hard job, much harder, especially as we go through COVID and sort of the front lines, I would say within the administrative suite of roles, the CIO is a very hard and complicated role and that's because it's demands against the role are.

And we're joking about the fact of, a font or a V sort of being the CIO is problem. It's one of those things where there's a deep operational responsibility, there's a responsibility strategically, and somehow those two things need to be combined. And at the end of the day, you're only as good without all of that.

As a backdrop of, sort of the latest issue or the downtime, or, you know, God forbid a cyber attack or a cyber threat of something. And so there's all these different things,

right? I, I think the other thing was, you could be called into a meeting today where you'd have to talk about administrative workflows.

Then you can be called into a meeting where you have to talk about construction and building and building codes and you could be called the new, and it was I can think of no other role that you really had to understand it, at least at a certain level, to have the conversations and to ask the right questions and the Polaroid information out that you literally understood supply chain all the way through.

The delivery of care, obviously you're not doing the surgery, but you understood what went on in the O R

it was also the gift of the role though. And I still think it is the gift of the role is that you get to be, you have the luxury, I'll use that word of being involved in almost everything. And there it's not, I don't mean in the sense of, we're coming to technology and as technologies falter, we need something from technology.

Believe me, there's a little bit of that, but it's really when you get to sort of, the ability to contribute strategically You have this ability to contribute to almost every major initiative that's going on. But before we went on a time that I do want to answer the direct question, which is how does it feel different?

And I think my little story about that is there is no question that in my current role, I feel a sense of urgency. I feel that, I need to move quickly and I need to sort of get things done, but that is nothing, nothing compared to my old role where I think I only understand. How much I was on call 24 7, 365 until I wasn't on call.

And it was weird because I felt this simultaneous relief, guilt, excitement, and boredom, all tied into one,

It's interesting. Cause I was talking to somebody one of the CEOs, I said guy, I mean, I got 250 emails a day. I understand what you're going through here. Yeah. There's been email inflation since then.

And he goes, we're upwards of 400 and there's some days I get 500 emails. I'm like, how can you possibly, he goes, you just, you create a process just like you do for everything else. And you filter things through and it, it just is the way it is. But I think one of the last questions I want to ask you is 16 years.

You came in at a tumultuous time at Cedars and you left at a good time. I think a very good time for a postpartum. You're handing off a very healthy organization, but a lot of people want to know 16 years. I don't think we're seeing it as much anymore. The 16 year tenure, Stephanie reels, the bill Spooner's and the others.

I mean, it's becoming less and less common. How do you make it 16 years?

Well, first I don't interview very well and then it will be a little bit longer. I'm there. I'm kidding. you know, I think that for me we talk a lot in technology and in digital about digital disruption and getting things done quickly and things move faster when they involve technology.

But the reality is if you actually step back and you think about people, process and technology and how they all sort of come together to make meaningful change, you need time. And, I think that one of the joys of being at the organization for 16 years beyond. It, candidly was just an amazing place.

Still is an amazing place. Is I got to work on things and had the time to see them get through and implement look. I remember the the early days of the EMR go live. Were not the happiest, but you know, you have to go through sort of some of those pieces as people start to begin to understand it.

And one of the things that I always thought I was very, very lucky. about Was that we implemented the EMR as a sort of very thorough and wide sweeping system relatively early on. So while there were always more projects to do, we actually got to work on a lot of the fun stuff. I was just talking to a CIO who is about to go onto the journey of implementing epic.

And I think that, one of the things that you know, he's going to have to grapple with is there's going to be a lot of basics that need to get. done Before you can work on the extras and let's face it. There's not a lot of clinicians or administration, folks that knock on your door and say, Hey, I'd really like the basics today.

Right? Yeah. I remember my first year was a lot of PowerPoints about the future and a lot of just blocking and tackling of getting the data center. Right. Getting the network, right. Getting the security, right. Getting the processes. Right. And I think that's the beauty of the CIO role. That you defined is once you have that blocking and tackling done, right, you can start to do the other things and because you have the operational linkage, you can actually get stuff done.

Exactly. Darren, thank you for your time.

Thank you.

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