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January 17: Today on TownHall, Brett Oliver, Family Physician and Chief Medical Information Officer at Baptist Health speaks with Tricia Julian, Chief Information Officer at Baptist Health about the challenges and successes of her IT in their organization as well as a meeting method they use to keep employees informed. What has surprised her the most about leading her team and what has been the biggest challenge? What was the genesis of the birthday meetings and what do they hope to accomplish? What is one thing she would tell a new CIO ready to step into the role?

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Transcript

This transcription is provided by artificial intelligence. We believe in technology but understand that even the smartest robots can sometimes get speech recognition wrong.

Today on This Week Health.

Any anxiety that they were grappling with, we'd give them a forum to just talk through it and we would share any knowledge that we had about the circumstance they were surfacing. Information is key at a time when there is uncertainty, the more information. Any of us can have to control it, to think about it the better we all are.

Welcome to this week, health Community Town Hall is our show hosted by leaders on the front lines with interviews of people making things happen in healthcare with technology. My name is Bill Russell. I'm creator of this Week Health, A set of channels dedicated to keeping health IT staff current and engaged. For five years now, we've been making podcasts that amplify great thinking to propel Healthcare forward. We wanna thank our show partners for investing in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders now onto today's.

Welcome back. Once again, I'm Brett Oliver. I'm the C M I O for Baptist Healthcare System in Louisville, Kentucky, and I'm super excited today to have one of my colleagues with us, Tricia Julian, who is our Chief Information Officer for Baptist. Welcome, Tricia.

Ah, good morning, Brett.

Wonderful to be with you.

Yeah, so glad to have you on. It's been a long time coming. . Oh, well, let's just jump right in. You and I came aboard around the same time to Baptist in our roles nearly six years ago. And, I've been doing a little reflecting as, as time has passed. But I'd like to know from your perspective, you've seen a lot and as you reflect on your tenure with our organization, what, surprises you the most leading this team and what's been biggest challenge?

Anything you do differently as you reflect back on your.

y systems at Baptist back in:

I think what if I could change the word, have the liberty to change it to amaze? I continue to just be amazed at. The wholehearted commitment of our teams, no matter what challenge comes their way, we just see them roll their sleeves up, figure out what needs to be done, divide the task appropriately, and then just get it done.

And they do it time and time again. So with that consistency and the dependability and reliability, In which they respond to the needs that Baptist has. They have just built such a strong reputation as key partners to our physicians, to our clinicians, to our business partners. And for that, I'm just so grateful to be a part of that.

What would be the biggest challenge or what would I do differently? So I'm gonna start with the challenge. The challenge is just the insatiable appetite that does exist for new technology solutions to be deployed within healthcare and. as you said, you and I have been in this role right about six years, and so we just have started our sixth fiscal year this past September.

And. This year, like the five years prior to it, we have more IT demand than we actually have capacity to support. And so that then just necessitates important conversations and I'm grateful to you as a key partner in those conversations with the physicians to try to explain what it is in terms of

our capacity limitations that we face, and then seeking the voice of the physicians. That's what you do So well to say, given all these options, what should we do? What should we prioritize and which can we pause? So, that is the biggest challenge. That is a theme throughout my six year tenure. And then, you know, anything I would do differently, I, I guess I wished that our maturity and the space of having it project management, transparency, around the work that comes into it, around what those queues of work look like, so that we could readily show those to our organizational leaders again, to invite their.

Participation in buy-in around the prioritization. You and I, again, have been engaged in conversations around that, but I envision, and we're working toward it, a dashboard of sorts where I could allow any of the leaders outside of it to log into this. Executive dashboard that shows the IT portfolio in a way that is something they could consume readily and then would allow them to weigh in to say, okay, now that I see this full book of work in it, here's my vote for how we would prioritize it.

So, the wish would've been. We would've had that as you and I came into our roles. But because that wasn't the case, we just are continuing to be consistent about building it and having the right conversations and the right visibility to our work.

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I think you said a lot when you talk about reputation.

I think that's so important for what we do because of sometimes that project load and the things that go on behind the scenes to keep the lights on, to keep things update. Isn't always seen. That reputation is really important for others to understand. Like, I know they're doing some other things, so if they can't get to a certain project, it's not because they're lazy or they don't, care about what's going on in my world.

And I think you've done a nice job of leading us to that transparency and the reputation that we're here to support everybody.

thank you Brett.

Yeah, yeah. I was just gonna switch gears just a little bit and talk about something that I think, most everybody's familiar with in, Health it now, and that's remote work.

And, with us being spread out geographically, we've, we've had some organizational journey into remote work. But the pandemic certainly accelerated that process for us and, led to more and more teams working from home, even now in other states. And so what are the challenges to our culture?

Have you witnessed and what's been the, department or your response?

Okay. Thank you. You are right. One of the key things that I certainly didn't want to see us lose was our sense of team and our sense of camaraderie. Our ability to not work in silos even before we were working remotely. There we could fall into a trap of a team working, you know, jumping into a project and starting down the path of figuring it out and going about the work of getting it done.

But, Not realizing that there were two or three other teams, they should have involved in the conversation earlier in so as not to catch a team unaware that this project was coming their way and there was a need to collaborate you and I. This, interview, the timing of it is pretty perfect in terms of Baptist just recently.

Participated in an employee engagement survey and I was really pleased to see that 82% of the members of our 564 IT department chose to spend time to give their voice in that survey. Our score, our engagement index improved by three points. We had an engagement index of 87, which is a tremendously positive index.

And then beyond that, there's ability to measure the favorability, and we had a 92% favorability rate, which again, had grown by three points from the prior year. So what's important about that is it does signal that our employees. I feel pretty satisfied with what they have. And you and I in forums that we have where we engage with our employees to hear their questions and entertain their topics.

Our birthday meeting as an example, we have the opportunity to hear them say more than, Thank you, thank you. Thank you for the chance to work remotely. But what you and I also know is there is a group of IT teams that don't have that privilege or opportunity. You have a team that reports to you. I have a couple that report through my vertical that.

They can't work from home because the nature of their work is to be boots on the ground ready for the physicians, the clinicians, the business partners in the hospital settings or in the practice settings. And so we also have to do, you and I have to be mindful of that as we think about. Again, how we're attending to the needs of our department as a whole and how we figure out ways to keep them again, united with one another, communicating well with one another and working in a team and in a partnership that delivers to our organization.

So, even with a high employee engagement index, it's going to be something that is. Continuous for us is to just stay intentional about keeping the conversations going at the right time for the teams.

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Absolutely. Well, let's, get more granular with that. You mentioned that, one of the things that's unique to our department, at least I haven't seen it done before that you started, gosh, I think five years ago, you mentioned these birthday meetings.

Can you explain what they are, kind of, where the genesis of the meetings came from and what they hope to.

accomplish

aptist even faced a period in:alth financially. But back in:

And so, I talked with you and with Michael, our chief Information Security Officer, about your willingness to join me in a forum that we would create for our IT teams, whereby we would not come with a planned agenda, but we would come ready to answer any and every question that might be on their minds.

So that. Any anxiety that they were grappling with, we'd give them a forum to just talk through it and we would share any knowledge that we had about the circumstance they were surfacing. Because you and I know information is key at a time when there is uncertainty, the more information. Any of us can have humanly to allow us to control it, to think about it the better we all are.

And so that's how it started. But what you and I have witnessed is, wow, just what an engaged audience it is. We use their birthday month to just be sure that we capture everybody in the depart. It keeps the mix of employees, any and every employee in our department has an open invitation to come during their birthday month.

And again, it's open forum, whatever question is on their mind. And so what you and I have seen a lot of is, again, their questions are very geared towards what's going on at the business. How strategically can I play a role to deliver to the business? And so it's probably. A meeting, I look forward to more than anything, just to hear what's on their mind and answer their questions.

but I was really grateful in:

And so, it's just, it's a great forum and I love it.

Yeah. I would, I would echo that we, Seen everything from just what's going on in human resources, you know, and some questions with that as to, we've had times when an employee or someone who's there for their birthday meeting ends up fielding questions from, other team members that just things are, that are on their mind.

I would really encourage others to try this if they're looking for, engagement in their department. Even just maybe their direct reports. I don't know. It just depends on, the sheer number of people. It takes zero prep, right? You're just sharing things that, they would like to know.

And sometimes there's some awkward silence. Yeah. But I think, I think it's good. And anyway, , I just think it's a really unique way that teens can connect with very little, again, everybody's so busy, but you just, if you can block the time just for the meeting, that's really all you need to do.

And yeah, to your point, I, at least over the last year or two, it's rare. To not go to the full hour and go, Hey, listen, I know everybody's gotta jump . There's generally plenty to talk about. Well, I just wanted to, let's wrap things up a little bit With a couple of final questions. , So what's the one thing that you wish you knew about being a CIO before you took the role? I mean, you had some exposure to it, obviously, and knew what the, job description said, but what has surprised, or what, what's one thing you wish you knew before you took it?

Well, it's funny, when I look back, I can realize how naive I was because you and I, again started these roles just after we'd finished that massive effort to deploy Epic and all the third party applications across all of our hospitals and clinics and other care venues. And so I really thought, wow, I mean, that magnitude of project, that massive of a project, whew, that's the only time in my career that I'm gonna have something of that magnitude.

And what I didn't really appreciate However changing healthcare was going to be and how the technology demands. The pace of technology demands, and again, the volume of projects, the variety of projects that we were gonna face, that's the part I, just didn't completely appreciate. Now the lifelong learner in me loves everything about it.

It just keeps my passion, keeps growing to learn more, to experience more, to understand where the industry is growing and trying to ensure that Baptist is poised right where we need to be. Now, With that lifelong passion. I also recognize going back to our earlier conversation about the demand on the teams I do feel attention within though to be sure that the workloads that our teams face are realistic and manageable so that we don't burn out this really talented team of IT professionals by not structuring and layering the work in the right way.

So, Again, that Aha was just not really realizing how big of a funnel it was always going to have coming their way.

nd. It is priorities for:

Yeah.

Well just know your teams. Are going to be in high demand and there won't be enough of your team to go around. But also just be ready. I can't even describe the joy. The true joy that comes with this role, and that joy stems from the type of people you're gonna be working with as your IT professionals, because what we realize is, The work that they do in healthcare, it is very much a transferable skill.

They could take that to any industry that exists, and quite honestly, they know, and I know that other industries will likely even pay them more for their skillset. So, . If you have someone who has that type of skill and could be paid more elsewhere, then why healthcare? What are they doing in healthcare?

And they're in healthcare by choice based on their intrinsic motivation to use their skills to make a difference. For patients ultimately, and they are doing that because they know their family members could be patients, their friends could be patients, they themselves could be patients, and. That is what motivates them to deliver high quality, reliable, excellent results.

Every time they have a motivation to study a project that they just deployed, they always do lessons learned afterwards. And Brett, that's not even you and I asking them to do that, although we would if they didn't, but we don't have to because they already wanna study it to figure. What went well so we can repeat it, and then what didn't go well, because we don't want to carry that error or that lesson into the future.

We wanna overcome it. And so again, just be ready for all and for amazement at what. Your team is gonna be capable of doing, provided you give them the structure, the strategy, and the direction that's all they need, and then let them go. And again, just a lot of joy because they are amazing, compassionate, talented professionals.

You'll be working alongside.

Well said, well said. Well, thank you so much. We'll end here. It's always a pleasure talking to you and I get to share you with the rest of the world a little bit. So thanks for taking

some time out today.

Oh, Brett, you're so welcome and I can't say enough about being able to be a partner with you and this healthcare journey.

I'm so grateful for all you bring as C M I O. And so thank you for that and for the time today.

Very Connor. Thanks.

Okay, bye-Bye.

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