Sue Schade on the Health IT Marketer PodcastWell-known health IT leader Sue Schade packs 30 years of experience into a single episode, providing insights on how to determine if an EMR rollout is successful, how providers wade through the ocean of vendors, top issues facing today’s health system CIO’s, the value of the CMIO, the difference between problems and solutions, and why vendors miss the bar by asking “What keeps you up at night?” to providers. Sue also gives valuable advice for how to own your career and break down gender barriers in the workplace.

Show notes

Air Date: June 1, 2016
Guest: Sue Schade, Founding Advisor at Next Wave Advisors

1:53 Introducing Sue Schade
4:30 Top issues facing health systems CIO’s
6:25 Obstacles to adoption of virtual health
7:54 How to determine successful EMR rollout
9:09 Role of the CMIO
10:52 How do the CIO & CMIO encourage clinicians to become connected?
12:12 How to wade through the ocean of vendors
13:31 How can vendors support the CIO’s mission?
15:45 Career advice for women from #healthITchicks panel at HIMSS
16:55 Don’t take crap!
18:12 How men and women can collaborate to break down barriers
20:45 Final words to health IT vendors
22:02 Bonus question: If you could join a rock band or music artist for a day, who would it be?

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Full transcript

Jared Johnson: Hello, my friends, and welcome to the Health IT Marketer Podcast. The podcast that tells the story of innovation in health IT. I am your host Jared Johnson of Ultera Digital, health care influencer and content marketing.

This is the first and only podcast dedicated to you, to the health IT marketing community. Welcome aboard.

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Thanks very much, ladies and gentlemen. On with the program.

Well, my guest on the program is Sue Schade. She’s a founding advisor at Next Wave Advisors. I wanted to welcome Sue to the program.

How are you doing today, Sue?

Sue Schade: I’m doing great. Thank you for having me on, Jared.

Jared Johnson: Yeah, I’m really excited. I was mentioning, you and I were just talking right before the interview about how I met you just for a brief second at HIMSS this year and had an opportunity just to shake your hand. I really enjoyed the panel discussion that you were a part of at HIMSS, and we’ll get into that here in just a little bit.

I wanted to give our listeners a little bit of a chance to learn a little bit more about you, especially a lot of them know you, but maybe don’t know all about your background.

So why don’t you start off telling us a little bit about your background and what you’re doing in your current role?

Sue Schade: Sure. As you introduced me, I am a founding adviser at Next Wave Health Advisors, which is a small advisory services firm of some of the leading CIOs in the country, who have either recently retired or soon to be retired, who are providing services to provider organizations start-ups and investors.

I joined that group over a year ago while I was still working as the CIO at University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers, did a little bit with them in my spare time, so to speak, and decided start my next chapter two months ago when I left the University of Michigan to take on interim CIO engagement at University Hospitals in Cleveland through Next Wave Health Advisors.

I will be here for as long as it takes for us to bring in a new CIO and get them transitioned in. So we’re in that search process right now.

Prior to University of Michigan, where I was for about three plus years, I was the CIO at Brigham and Women’s Hospital which is part of the partner’s health care system in Boston. Prior to that I worked for a consulting firm, a vendor for a while, and then also was at a large health care system for about 12 years in the Chicago market. Mostly I’ve been on the provider side and IT management and always in health care.

That’s a little bit about me and where I’ve been.

Jared Johnson: Well, it gives us such a good balanced perspective, it seems like, and we’ll get into that here in a moment, but great to know that coming from the provider side, you can very much understand a lot of the issues that are facing CIOs today because you’ve been on both sides of this equation.

Maybe that’s a good place to start is to look at what are those tops issues facing health systems CIOs today? Why don’t we start that at maybe a 10,000 foot view?

Sue Schade: Sure. I don’t know if it’s 10,000 or 5,000 or 20,000 but I would say, and I have many CIO colleagues in the country that I know well and have learned from, and hopefully they’ve learned something from me over the years, a lot of common themes in terms of what we’re working on.

We are not yet done with all of our core EHR rollouts, so that work continues. I think there’s probably a lot of work going on right now due to mergers and acquisitions in terms of the integrating systems and extending core systems out to newly acquired hospitals.

I think that most CIOS right now are trying to figure out right now how they can move beyond some of that core work to do more innovation and get into some newer spaces. I’ll come back to that in a second.

I think we are all challenged given the financial framework within health care to try do more for less, and reduce our costs in different ways in different organizations, but I think that’s probably a common theme. There is no question that security continues to be very top of mind and top of priority lists for organizations in terms of their focus to strengthen their security programs, and to increase their investments in that area, and to really hire the right talent to drive their security programs.

I think analytics is another area. Business and intelligence and analytics is another area that many CIOs are focused on right now. I think just moving into some of the newer areas, I’m surprised still that virtual health or telehealth is not more widespread than you would think it is. I think there’s a lot of focus on patient engagement, pushing out mobile apps to patients, as well as clinicians.

So I think those are just some of the broad common themes that are happening right now within health care for CIOs.

Jared Johnson: Talking about telehealth in particular, what do you see as some of the obstacles to keep it from being adopted more widely at this point?

Sue Schade: Well, I think one thing that you come back to is the reimbursement model in a very state to state in terms of whether [inaudible 00:06:42] is it covered or not just to start at that baseline. I think you’ll also run into very different needs and models depending on the state region that you’re in and the provider organization that you’re in.

Some of the more successful deployments are in areas where there’s a main academic medical center hub that’s serving a broad world population, and they have figured out what that model needs to look like, and been able to deploy successfully.

Others are still, in more urban areas, trying to figure out are you basically making it more convenient for the patient who doesn’t need to get in traffic and find a place to park for a very simple visit. So you can do [inaudible 00:07:28]. It really depends on the area that you’re in, what the needs of that population are, and then of course, the reimbursement models.

But I don’t think it’s really technology that is the obstacle at this point. I think the technology is probably there. It’s a matter of figuring out what the requirements are, the workflow, and then the financial framework for it.

Jared Johnson: Then what about EHRs and EMRs? You mentioned being in the middle of an implementation or a rollout, is there an average time for an implementation, or how do you determine whether an EHR or EMR implementation is being successful?

Sue Schade: Well, those are two different questions. Average timeframe is going to vary based on the size of your organization, what you’re moving off of and on to, and the product that you’re using.

As far as how you measure success, various articles written on this, I think that you don’t have people saying, “Let’s go back. Let’s just throw it out entirely.” You just don’t hear that. Clinicians accept that this is where we are at this point in time.

But you want less clicks, you want pretty seamless streamline workflows. You want high degree of integration, so that there is easy access to all the information on the patient, between the inpatient and outpatient setting for all specialties as well as take it to that next layer in terms of your health information exchanges within your state or within your region.

You want to be able to get the information that another provider organization even a competitor may have on your patient to have a complete picture of that patient’s history in health.

Jared Johnson: So then when we’re talking about the CIO and CMIOs supporting the clinical staff, for instance, which is another complementary role here, how do you see that role?

Sue Schade: The CMIO role?

Jared Johnson: Yes.

Sue Schade: Yes, the Chief Medical Information Officer I think is a very, very, very important partner to the CIO. Not hearing that many models where the CMIO reports to the CIO, and especially in larger organizations, often the CMIO is reporting to a Chief Quality Officer or to the CMO with the close relationship with the CIO, or possibly a dotted line to the CIO. I look at it as partners in crime that we’re doing good things. We’re not doing bad things together.

I have come to appreciate having worked with now, a couple, very solid CMIOs. The importance of their clinical knowledge, their clinical background, their relationships with the clinicians, the respect and credibility that they have with clinicians, it makes a huge difference when you are trying to get something done, when you’re rolling out something new, when you’re trying to understand the workflows and the clinician needs, or quite frankly, when you’ve got problems and issues, and you need that clinician to be able to talk to the clinical leaders, and help them understand the issues that the IT group is trying to sort through and address.

They oftentimes can do that more effectively than the technical folks within IT.

Jared Johnson: So ideally, like you said, the CIO and CMIO are hopefully partnering up, and coming from the same standpoint here to help on all of these initiatives, so one of those initiatives is helping clinicians within the organization who do want to be connected, lots of different terms for that. But empowering patients or using some of the latest digital health tools, whether it is an app, whether it is remote monitoring, whether it is patient generated health data coming from a wearable, whatever it is. If when you have clinicians who are wanting to be connected in some way, how do the CIO and CMIO support them?

Sue Schade: I think there is so much exciting opportunity within this whole space. I know it’s something that I’m hoping to work with more, yet you really need to look at what are the problems that we’re trying to solve within the workflow for the clinicians and the patient, and what are the specific needs that they have, and not just great new ideas, looking for a problem to solve, the whole technology for technology’s sake.

I think that your clinical leaders, your CMIO can help ground the IT growth to really look closely at what problems do we need to solve and where can we bring the technology to bear.

Jared Johnson: I guess there are lot of vendors knocking down your door in times like that where they’re saying, “Hey, we’ve got the solution for that. We’ve got a patient engagement platform. We’ve got . . .” whatever it is. How do you wade through the ocean of vendors who are saying they’ve got the solution for that?

Sue Schade: Well, I’ll tell you my approach to vendors, if I can.

I’ve always thought CIOs could spend most of their day talking to vendors, if they took all the calls that they get. My approach is that I don’t want to waste anybody’s time. I don’t want to waste their time. I don’t want to waste my time. I’ve been on the vendor side of the equation, so I know how they work as well.

I take calls from vendors if it’s an area that I think we are going to in a near term need to be looking at closely. So it’s something tangible that I might be doing a purchase on or evaluation selection on, then I’m willing to talk to vendors to get educated in that area and see what’s out there.

I also talk to vendors when it seems what they’ve got is so new and leading edge that it is worth my time to get educated as to what they’re doing. Even if I don’t seen a real need for it in the near future, it could be something on the horizon where we need to be thinking about, so I’ll take those calls as well.

Jared Johnson: Let’s flip the scripts then here and say, how can vendors, from their side, how can they support the CIO’s mission?

Sue Schade: Wow. How can they support the CIO’s mission?

Well, I have to tell you, the standard question that you get when vendors get into your office and get a little time with you is, what keeps you up at night? While that may bring forward some of my key issues, it just seem really cliché or [inaudible 00:13:57] kind of question.

I would like vendors to have a good understanding before they even spend time with me, if we’re going to have a meeting as to the organization, background on the organization, scale of the organization, etcetera. So for vendors to do homework before they come in, I think is helpful.

Then to really be listening to us and taking their cues in terms of new product development in their own product roadmap from the relationships that they build with their current clients or with their potential clients.

So there’s a lot of listening that has to go on, I think, in the vendor community to really support us.

Jared Johnson: I think you’re right. If there’s more listening and not as much pushiness and even when it’s excitement about their solution, that it may be a great solution, but there’s thousands of them out there now, and so how do we wade through that?

I see that the vendors who are most successful right now just seem to get that part.

Sue Schade: Yeah, and I think you used the word “pushiness”. I didn’t. Let me just be clear on that.

I think for example, you’ve got a lot of vendors with clinical systems who have their own CMIOs. So those are physicians, or other clinicians, who have worked as clinicians and who’ve now have gone into the vendor space, they are more rooted and grounded in the issues that we have. I think that that says a lot when that kind of person is somehow involved in the sales call, and it’s not just a salesperson pushing, to use your term, the latest and greatest that they’ve got.

When I know that they are grounded and understand our needs and have come up with some solutions based on that, I’m going to pay more attention to them.

Jared Johnson: Well, let’s shift gears a little bit then because I want to make sure we have enough time to talk about this other piece that I’m really excited about.

So I heard you speak at the Health IT Chicks’ panel at HIMSS and gave some great career advice just in general, and why don’t we just open it up here and say, what kind of career advice do you have for women in health IT?

Sue Schade: Sure. This may not be specific to women in Health IT, but broadly, but I’ll come back to women in health IT.

First and foremost, I think you have to develop a sense of confidence in yourself that, as I was just talking to one of my women leaders today, even when you don’t feel that you somehow have to draw on an inner strength and an inner confidence and project the confidence.

I think that it’s really important that you develop a network and find someone that you would like to have as your role model and potentially mentor you. I think it’s really important that you recognize that you own your own career. People aren’t going to hand things to you or do things for you necessarily. You own it. You have to make the choices at the right time for yourself.

I would also emphasize, and I know I said this in one of the programs at HIMSS on the issue of women in IT, don’t take crap, if I can say that. Don’t put up with stuff that you just know is wrong. You’ve got to be an advocate for yourself and speak up.

As far as women in IT, it’s an area that I’ve written about in my weekly blog as well as spoken about quite a bit in the past year, the need to get more women and girls, starting young, interested in technology in the STEM field, science, technology, engineering, and math overall.

I’m trying to encourage leaders to support that and find ways to promote that, and actively encourage young girls, young women to go into those fields. They are lagging way behind.

Jared Johnson: Now, did you have a mentor early in your career to help show you this potential path for you?

Sue Schade: I did. I had various mentors along the way. Sometimes they were colleagues, sometimes they were bosses.

Jared Johnson: That’s got to make such a big difference because a lot of times, like you said, there isn’t necessarily path out there that everyone says, “Hey, this one’s for you. This is where you’re going.” You really have to take responsibility for that.

What are your thoughts about how men and women can collaborate to break down some of the gender barriers in health IT?

Sue Schade: As I said, I think to you, Jared, were you the one that asked the question at the Health IT Chicks’ panel about just that? You asked that question, right?

Jared Johnson: Yeah, I did. I sure did.

Sue Schade: Yeah, and I think my initial answer was, “Well, showing up was a start.”

It was mostly women in that audience and there were a number of men, so I think just recognizing that there are needs in this area as a male is important. I think that there’s culture and within IT there can be, especially in some of the development areas, and you hear about the bro culture, is it? Is that what I want to say? Just a more male culture that it can be very hard for women to work within, and be successful within, and feel comfortable within, so we got to try break that down.

I think that especially if you’re in management roles, you really need to look at the policies, the HR policies within your organization, if you can influence them or even control them in terms of how they support both men and women moving ahead in their career as men and women in terms of balancing their family lives with their careers. Flexibility in the workplace for both men and women is important.

So we can look at the culture and the culture we want to create and sustain in terms of it being supportive of women, but really supportive of all workers, and look at do our policies also create that same supportive and flexible environment. So those would be two ways.

Jared Johnson: So if I can summarize that, I hear the listening part on both sides, listening and facilitating conversations and not just being passive. If you just let something go and just say, “Oh, that’s just how it always is.” That’s basically the same as contributing to letting that behavior keep going and that’s what we’ve got to break away from, and just recognize first and foremost, that there are things being said, and that things won’t change unless there’s an active participation in it.

Sue Schade: Absolutely. Everybody has the responsibility in my opinion to speak up and argue for what they think is right in those situations. Absolutely.

Jared Johnson: Well, as we start to wrap up here a little bit, is there anything else that you’d like to share with our listeners?

We mostly have many who are marketing on behalf of vendors who are listening. We also have those who are marketing on behalf of providers because they want to know how vendors are approaching them.

Is there anything you’d want to say to our audience?

Sue Schade: To help in terms of marketing? I think I’ve covered it in terms of really listening and trying to understand what the issues and the needs are, what problem do we need to solve, not just having solutions looking for a problem. I guess that’s a way I’d boil it down.

If I can, I’d also like to just expand on my comment about my weekly blog and promote that for a minute. It’s called Health IT Connect and you can find it at sueschade, that’s all one word, I cover a broad range of topics including technology, EHRs, women in the work place, leadership, innovation, lean.

You can find a lot of interesting commentary there, if you will, in a number of these topics.

Jared Johnson: Great. I’m glad you brought that up. We have a link to that in the show notes. We will put a link to that in the blog notes here, so definitely so listeners could check that out.

We’ve got time for a bonus question, which is always a little bit of fun here. It was funny, I was listening to another podcast somewhere else and they were asking like these, “Would you rather do this or this?” questions and neither option was good. It was like, “Would you rather be in a sandstorm or a thunderstorm?” Those kinds of things and I’m like neither.

I’m hoping this question’s a little easier than those ones because you can hear the guests squirm in those ones, but this one is hopefully a little simpler.

It’s, if you could join any rock band or music artist for a day, who would that be?

Sue Schade: I’m laughing. I’m going to give you my answer. I would say Beyonce and her formation. She is a talented, talented, strong woman artist. I don’t think you could argue with that whether you like her music or not. I think that in spite of the huge age difference, I think it would be great fun to be a part of that for a day.

Jared Johnson: That’s what this question is all about, right? It doesn’t matter if people [inaudible 00:23:02] taken be somebody alive or dead, or what. I said, “Just however you want to answer the question.” Perfect.

Well, Sue, I’ve really enjoyed having you on the program.

Is the blog there that you mentioned on, is that the best way for people to reach you, or are there other ways if they want to get a hold of you?

Sue Schade: Yeah, that’d be better. I’m on LinkedIn and I am on Twitter. My Twitter handle is @sgschade. So I threw a middle initial on that one.

Jared Johnson: Well, Sue, thank you for taking the time out for this. Have a great week, and hopefully we will be able to keep in touch with you, and have you on again someday.

Sue Schade: Excellent. Thank you so much, Jared. It’s been a pleasure.

Jared Johnson: Yeah, thank you, Sue.

Well, that wraps up the program this week, ladies and gentlemen. If you enjoyed this episode as much as I know you did, please consider leaving your review on iTunes. Thank you very much.

So remember, it us up to us to tell the story of innovation in health IT, and remember to build your audience, one gig at a time. Until next time, I’m Jared Johnson, and you’ve been listening to the Health IT Marketer Podcast.

This program is sponsored by Ultera Digital, health care influencer and content marketing. For a full archive, you can go to That’s

Thank you very much and I’ll talk to you next time.