Health IT execs talk survival strategies

November 20, 2013 in Medical Technology

Working in a hospital IT department is no walk in the park. Complying with federal regulations such as meaningful use and ICD-10 have most IT teams strapped, stressed and constantly shifting their priorities in attempt to meet the requirements that keep piling up — all this in addition to their regular workload. 

IT teams who were named to our 2013 Best Hospital IT Departments list opened up about what keeps them up at night, and how, amidst growing burdens, they keep employees motivated, retain top talent and manage to meet deadlines without losing their minds. 

First, as Becki Weber, senior vice president of IT at the six-hospital Meridian Health in N.J. (which took first in the large Best Hospital IT Departments category) sees it, you have to acknowledge certain realities to be able to address them.

“Everyone in healthcare is extremely stressed out right now,” she said. “We’re absolutely in the majority,” Weber said of her 211-person IT team. 

[See also: At Meridian, it’s all for one, and one for all]

That’s why, under her leadership, Meridian Health has established a Fun Committee that plans regular events, fundraisers and team games as a way to de-stress and bring staff together. The team also has organizes special lunches where they’ll bring a dish or specialty items from their particular culture.  

For Judy Comitto, chief information officer of the 535-bed Trinitas Regional Medical Center in New Jersey (which earned the No. 1 spot in the medium-sized Best Hospital category), stress management involves bringing in external help.

“Because there are so many projects in the pipeline at this time, we will use outside help from time to time to alleviate the burden to internal staff members,” she said. 

[See also: Trinitas staffers demonstrate ‘intense loyalty‘]

In terms of what keeps IT leaders up at night? Better sit down; there’s a lot. 

Chris Brown, assistant vice president of IT at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center in Olney, Md. (the hospital snagged first place in the small Best Hospital IT Departments category) said sometimes what keeps her up is an actual call at three o’clock in the morning from a nurse who can’t access patient medical information. 

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