UMHS CIO Sue Schade: Culture change at health organizations takes time

When a CIO moves to a new organization, making changes takes time and patience, Sue Schade, CIO at University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers, writes in a recent blog post.

More than a year after coming to UMHS from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston in November 2012, Schade says that employees still were getting used to her management style.

"You start in a new leadership position and you want to make changes. Should be easy, right? After all, you're the boss. You call the shots," Schade says. "Not so."

Change, she says, starts with values and principles.

When the time came for major organization changes, she says she rolled out her re-organization after 11 months, outlining some key objectives. Those objectives included: create the greatest value with the resources at hand; eliminate and avoid duplication of work; more effectively coordinate work; and create capacity to support emerging business needs and priorities

To reach those objectives, the organization consolidated administration and finance, is working on consolidating application development for more standard methods of work and created an information data management division, according to Schade.

"Not everyone in leadership was happy with the changes. But the changes were guided by objectives that couldn't be argued with," she says.

Being a CIO is as much about the technology as about the people, Cara Babachicos, corporate director of information systems and CIO of community hospitals and non-acute entities at Boston-based Partners HealthCare, recently told FierceHealthIT. "[CIOs] lives are complicated because you have a real personal piece of how you get change in an organization, how you get people trained, how you reorganize, how you staff," she said.

CIOs also have more on their plates these days. Their workload has ballooned in scope and complexity over the past five years, according to a whitepaper from executive search firm SSI-Search released in April.

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