Western Reserve CIO Pam Banchy: Flexibility required to balance large initiatives, day-to-day tasks [Q&A]

There's big difference between how Western Reserve Hospital CIO Pam Banchy handles big initiatives, like Meaningful Use, and smaller day-to-day tasks.

"The big projects, those are strategic and regulatory initiatives," she told FierceHealthIT. "From my perspective, those are very broad and intensive, and need to have significant planning and resources around them."

In addition, major undertakings require a different discipline, different resources and a different structure around them, said Banchy, who is also the vice president of clinical informatics and transformation at the Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio-based hospital.

Banchy used ICD-10 as one example of how a large project differs than smaller ones. The code switch wasn't about just technology, she said. There needed to be changes in processes, and education and training had to be considered. Those come with a variety of different components, she said.

As far as the day-to-day activities are concerned, those are more responding to situations as they arise. You can have cybersecurity policies in place, but "you don't plan for a security situation, you don't plan for a technology to not work suddenly or unexpectedly, but you respond to those," she said.

In this exclusive interview, Banchy also discusses how Western Reserve handles cybersecurity, what she enjoys most about her job and how she sees the role of CIO evolving.

FierceHealthIT: What projects or initiatives are you currently working on at Western Reserve?

Pam Bancy: For bigger initiatives, we are on the road like everybody else. So we are successfully attesting for Meaningful Use, we are on the journey for Stage 2, both for our hospital and our 130 providers. As for ICD-10, that was successfully implemented. A lot of what we're doing now is optimizing or maintaining some of our ancillary project systems.

The one project we're moving forward with is our cardiology system; we are implementing an EKG cardiology system to support an increase in patient volume. Also, in our emergency department, we have successfully implemented a solution that allows for CPOE nursing documentation, medication administration and voice recognition.

FHIT: How are you handling security and privacy of data?

Banchy: That's what keeps me up at night. I will be putting together a comprehensive plan about that across the hospital and our medical group.

That's a big initiative--putting together a plan and strategy for security. Currently, we conduct network monitoring. We have security risk analysis, which is a very in-depth assessment across everything from the data center all the way to computers and handheld devices.

Once those are reviewed, we conduct gap analyses. It's a lot of assessment, identifying gap, putting a plan in place and then monitoring.

FHIT: What is the most interesting aspect of your job?

Banchy: I would have to say the ever-changing and evolution of technology platforms. When I think about the technology today and where it was, the interesting part is to look at the advancements and how technology enhancements can help care delivery for our patients. I think that's just fascinating and gratifying at the same time.

FHIT: What is your biggest challenge?

Banchy: Governmental regulations. We have no control over them, yet they're required. It's a challenge to not only keep up with the regulatory changes, but also making sure your vendors are ready to do that, as well.

FHIT: How do you foresee changes in healthcare technology altering the role of the CIO?

Banchy: The role of CIO has changed from being a highly sought after technical skill to being more of a collaborator, communicator. To be an effective CIO in the past, you needed more hands-on technology skills. Today, it's a matter of understanding the trends, hiring and retaining young talent and ensuring employees are up to date on new technologies.

I think of role of the CIO is to keep your fingers on the pulse of changing technology and provide and surround yourself with effective, qualified talent and resources that will help you grow.

FHIT: What do you see as being the biggest issue in healthcare technology heading into 2016?

Banchy: I think it's between cybersecurity and interoperability. Patients are mobile in their care delivery, and how do we stay abreast of that and provide the technology that the patient needs so that they can go anywhere and their record will be with them? We have to figure that out as a country and then on technology side figure out how do we make that happen.

Editor's note: This interview has been condensed for content and clarity.