Inova Health's Patricia Mook: CNIOs must understand how different generations adapt to technology

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Nurses are in a place where technology is changing how they do their jobs tremendously fast--and the divide between tech capabilities of different generations is a challenge, says Patricia Mook, chief nursing information officer at Falls Church, Virginia-based Inova Health System.

There's a workforce coming into healthcare that has grown up in the digital age, she tells FierceHealthIT, while the aging workforce didn't grow up with the devices and tools that are now the cornerstone of much of the work conducted at hospitals and health systems.  

"It's more challenging for them to use the systems that we have, and you have to understand how they learn differently, how they adapt to things differently," Mook says.

All of healthcare has to face this challenge, she adds, but especially nursing. Organizations' leaders must understand where the differences in experience are and how to teach new and ever-evolving technologies to older individuals.

"How do we help them adapt? How do we help them work in a world that's changing so quickly?" she says.

In this interview, Mook also discusses other challenges CNIOs face, new legislation being enacted for adoption of a nursing licensure compact and the evolving role of the CNIO.

FierceHealthIT: What projects or initiatives are you currently working on at Inova Health?

Patricia Mook: I work on a daily basis to improve operations, improve efficiencies on the operations side. I work with clinical effectiveness in terms of looking at outcomes, and I work to make sure that our workforce is well trained when they come to the organization and that they optimize the tool that we use for clinical documentation.

We're in a place where we're trying to optimize the system that we have. We have five hospitals plus six alliance hospitals that we've put up over the course of three or four years, and then we went right into an upgrade. Right now we're putting in a case management module and implementing Healthy Planet, which is a population health module. We're using a lot of energy and time on population health, and we're looking at standard work across the system--RN standard work, M.D. standard work, collaborative standard work.

FHIT: What are your thoughts on new legislation being enacted for adoption of a licensure compact that would allow nurses to practice telemedicine across state lines?

Mook: The compact licensure is a good thing. We need to be able to make sure that it crosses all states, and not just certain states; and I don't think we're there yet. It would make work a lot better and easier when it comes to telemedicine and spreading that service across the country.

FHIT: How do you see your role as CNIO evolving in the future?

Mook: In the future, I see my role as one that really has to learn and know a lot about the ambulatory areas and about population health. We need to be more knowledgeable, we need to be more understanding of transitions of care. The world is moving toward ambulatory medicine, toward keeping patients well and out of the hospital and I think every organization is really looking in that ambulatory arena. So chief nursing information officers need to understand a lot about those aspects of care.

FHIT: What is the most challenging part of your job?

Mook: The role I hold bridges technology and operations, and so you have to be knowledgeable in both places, and the challenge is to build partnerships in both environments. That means working on relationship building. To be a success in the world of healthcare today you have to be a resilient leader, and being a resilient leader means having good relationships with all disciplines.

Editor's Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.