Best Hospital IT 2016 CIOs

The winners of the 2016 Best Hospital IT Departments are clearly doing something right. At all of the top 20 shops – whether tiny five-person teams at rural providers or sprawling, hundreds-deep health systems support squads – these health IT teams expressed deep satisfaction with the jobs they do.

So how do chief information officers and IT directors keep employees happy?

We asked and they revealed winning strategies for staff satisfaction.

“The number one critical success factor is your leadership team, and your leader,” said Ed Kopetsky, CIO at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and Stanford Children’s Health (#3 Super hospital). That does not mean staff should be subservient to their boss. “I have a partnership model, where my team and I make decisions together. I don’t micromanage. The number one goal is people development. I set the tone, but I let others lead.”

For Chris Hickie, IT director at Osakaloosa, Iowa-based Mahaska Health Partnership (#2 Small hospital) keeping his six-person staff connected to the value of the work they do is essential. “Healthcare IT is a very stressful and high-stakes environment,” he said. Keeping staff engaged – making sure they’re “aware of the impact that even small IT issues, whether support related or EHR related, hardware, software, break-fix related” have on clinicians and staff – can create a “sense of urgency.”

[Also: Best Hospital IT CIOs talk emerging tech’s with the biggest potential]

Communication of course is also key, according to Keith Neuman, CIO at Charleston, South Carolina’s Roper St. Francis Healthcare (#5 Large hospital). Constantly changing priorities in a heavily regulated space like healthcare can be a big challenge for IT. “It’s frustrating to my folks to be going down one path one day and then have to flip over to a different path the next day.” But at the same time, he said, that’s just “part of that is just the nature of what we do.” Neuman tells his staff: “Your job is hard to make other people’s jobs easier. We’re here to support the organization.”

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