Penn Medicine CIO: Looking Back at 2021 Helps Shape Strategies for 2022

I’m not the first to say, “What a year!” The emotional roller coaster associated with the pandemic, confinements, virus testing, vaccine warrants, remote work, and reopening, just to step back with the Omicron variant, has challenged us all. But throughout this tumultuous year, our information and IT departments across the country have persevered and taken on the challenge of supporting healthcare.

In addition to the usual day-to-day activities associated with keeping a health care facility running, the unforeseen responsibilities of helping the pandemic have been imposed on us.

Modifications have recently been made to electronic health records, customized COVID-19 reporting systems have been developed, and human capital management systems have been adapted to support employee vaccine monitoring.

While addressing these efforts, our staff, clinical engineering and other specific entities were at the forefront of supporting our clinical users. Throughout this, our teams have remained remarkably committed and resilient.

These characteristics continue to be traits that further separate SI teams from the health of their counterparts in other industries. Commitment to the welfare mission and supporting a cause greater than a quarterly dividend or a profit and loss account is one of the main differentiators of our resilient workforce.

So where do we go from here? Recognizing that today’s new normalcy is anything but normal, I think we need to continue to focus on those who have brought us to this point, our workforce. Times are changing. And for those of us who spend a lot of time in leadership, we have to adapt to the times. Without strong, stable equipment, our ability to react to the ever-changing environment is virtually impossible.

I adapted my personal leadership style not only to involve my leadership team in getting information and guidance, but also to include much more of the frontline staff who were especially affected by the changing environment.

Challenges such as virtual schooling, distance work, family illnesses, and the fear of traveling on public transportation are central concerns for each of our employees.

As a leader, I know I need to be more in tune with the best way to support all of our team members. Ongoing City Council meetings, employee board forums, face-to-face / virtual discussions, and resource retention interviews are critical to providing a balanced view of what our team members face.

Looking to the future, it seems clear to me that the nation and the world will continue to struggle with the ever-changing impact of COVID-19. Despite the development of vaccines and other therapeutics, the virus seems to be one step ahead of our ability to eliminate it. As a result, our focus is on continuing to focus on the needs of our team members.

Remote work remains viable whenever possible, broad and consistent communication keeps our partners informed and supported, and providing employees with the opportunity to achieve their professional goals remains a winning strategy for most of our staff. .

Without strong and committed equipment, achieving the technological advances that our industry wants will simply be unattainable. Areas of opportunity include continuing to leverage data analytics to advance patient care and research, improve EHR capabilities, support efforts to expand hospital practice, and further protect the computer environment and use artificial intelligence algorithms to proactively support patient care. and operational efficiency.

Healthcare systems around the world are challenged to provide care in the most volatile and unpredictable times our industry has ever known. Front-line clinical workers continue to bear the brunt of these challenges and must be continually recognized for their Herculean efforts.

Enabling and supporting these caregivers is a key function of our information services team. Strong IS teams allow for strong clinical care delivery, even in the most difficult of circumstances. I am proud to acknowledge my team and the many others who have faced the challenge and remain strong during this pandemic.

Mike Restuccia is the Chief Information Officer of Penn Medicine.

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