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In this tech-obsessed world, you’re always glued to at least one of your electronic devices. You’re constantly notified of an email, text, call, meeting—the list goes on. Even some fitness trackers now let you know when you’re receiving a phone call. While it’s imperative to stay in the loop during the workweek, you deserve some time to completely disconnect from the constant influx of notifications.

And what better way to disconnect than on a vacation? According to US Travel, studies show that about half of Americans end the year with unused vacation time, and accrue a total of 705 million unused vacation days annually. Few Americans take the vacation time they’ve earned, and to top it off, even fewer actually fully disconnect from work while they’re away.

It’s important to fully immerse yourself in out-of-office mode while you’re on vacation.  Follow these 5 strategies to actually disconnect while on vacation and fully enjoy your hard earned time off.

1.) Delegate tasks and notify colleagues of your upcoming absence

To best prepare for an upcoming vacation, make a list of urgent and must-do tasks that need to be completed while you’re gone. Reach out to your most trusted teammates a couple of weeks prior and delegate your tasks accordingly to team members who will be available.

Additionally, email anyone that you regularly work with to notify them of your upcoming days off and ask for a list of assignments they need to be completed before you leave.

Keep lines of communication open before your trip as this will ensure a smooth transition for everyone going into your vacation. Remind colleagues of your upcoming trip by sending out a final reminder email a few days prior to your trip. Be sure to include contact information of one point person who outside colleagues can contact if necessary. By preparing with these few steps, you will calm your nerves and alleviate the feeling of needing to check in every day.

2.) Adjust your notification settings 

While checking apps may be something you do subconsciously, there are still ways to avoid an accidental look at your inbox that turns into hours of surprise work. When you arrive at your destination, start disconnecting right away by turning off all notifications. Without text alerts, email notifications, calendar reminders, and normal daily alarms, you’ll allow yourself to relax.

You can even create a new folder on your phone screen labeled “Do Not Open”, and move your email, messages, and calendar apps into it. This disconnection tactic will make it more difficult to mindlessly end up in a work app while scrolling through your phone.

3.) Choose a location with a different time zone

If you’re still deciding on where to go on your upcoming vacation, consider destinations that put a few time zones between you and the office. By being awake while your colleagues back home sleep, it makes unwanted communication far less convenient, and encourages mental distance between you and your job responsibilities.

Another option is to deliberately choose a location where cell phone service is sparse, and wifi is hard to come by. Some of the world’s most beautiful destinations are also the most remote ones. If you’re struggling to land on the perfect location, check out these beautiful destinations without internet access.

To really tap into a fully disconnected experience, opt out of an international phone plan and only check your phone when you have wifi at your hotel accommodations. Consider switching your phone to Airplane Mode, as it will turn off cellular data but still gives you the option to connect to wifi.

4.) Travel with an accountability buddy

If you’re traveling with another person or group, ask them ahead of time to help you on your quest to disconnect. Agreeing to keep each other accountable before you depart will set expectations and will help you stay mindful of the purpose of your vacation. Allot specific times for non-work phone use, and practice leaving your phone behind when participating in fun excursions. Besides, vacationing with a travel buddy who’s focused on enjoying the moment is more fun for everyone.

5.) Plan out your return

Our last tip is one of the most crucial, and it’s to have a clear, organized idea of what your return to work will look like. By planning out the week of your return before you leave, you’ll feel less obligated to check in with colleagues while you’re gone.

Be sure to schedule catch-up meetings and check-ins with your team and clients, but dedicate your first day back to catching up on emails and settling back into a routine. Map out a clear plan for the 1-2 weeks following your vacation, and ask a colleague to fill you in on anything important you missed.

Pack your bags and enjoy a restorative vacation

We hope this inspires you to take time away from your devices and truly enjoy the vacation you’ve worked so hard to earn. By preparing before you leave and taking active measures to disconnect, you’ll get the most of your vacation and come back to work feeling refreshed and ready to jump back in.

Read Next: Top Travel Tips For Traveling Consultants  

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The healthcare industry created one in seven jobs in the United States in 2018, totaling 29,000 new jobs each month. If those numbers aren’t enough to impress you, the projections for the next several years are even more promising.

The aging population is creating greater demand for healthcare services, and pairing that with advancements in healthcare technology explains why the healthcare information technology industry is seeing such a boom in job creation. Below are 10 healthcare IT companies hiring in 2019.

Cerner Corporation

A supplier of health IT services, devices, solutions, and hardware, Cerner Corporation does it all. Based in Kansas City, Cerner recently announced their $4.5 billion expansion plan which will require a 70% jump in their workforce size and will offer 16,000 jobs in the next ten years. Cerner is known for their training and career development, and they pride themselves on providing opportunities and promoting from within. If there’s any time to apply and jump on board with this company, it’s now.

Epic Systems

Another midwest tech hub, Verona, Wisconsin is home to Epic Systems. What was once a small company with under 1,000 employees, now has over 9,000. They recently expanded their headquarters to accommodate its growing employee base, and have offices internationally in the Netherlands, Denmark, Dubai, the UK, Australia, and Singapore. Epic employee perks include road bike clubs, company-wide volunteer programs, and 800-acre community-oriented campus.

>> Explore our Epic positions here.

Haven Healthcare

The new partnership between Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase, announced last year as Haven Healthcare, is making huge strides in tackling issues of affordability and care access. Amazon has certainly reached its goal of breaking into the healthcare industry, and they currently have many Boston based jobs available on their website.

Flatiron Health

With their recent expansion in New York City, Flatiron Health is seeing impressive company wide growth. Since launching in 2012 with only a handful of employees, they now employee over 700 people, 300 of which have been added within the past three years. There are over 100 positions waiting to be filled currently on Glassdoor, with many of these roles in technology. They offer excellent maternity and paternity leave packages, and unlimited paid time off.

Apple

Most of us own an Apple device, and with their new releases of health devices like the Apple Watch and health app on the iPhone, they’re making huge strides in the health services field. The new Apple Watch even has an electrocardiogram feature which in the past few months has been FDA cleared and is planned to be integrated in 2019, meaning many new jobs are coming with it. Here are some recent healthcare IT jobs posted by Apple.

Pack Health

If a startup company is more your style, consider applying for one of Pack Health’s many open positions in Birmingham, Alabama. The company of what used to consist of just 30 employees, and is now expanding their headquarters and plans to hire 175 employees over the next four years.

UnitedHealth Group

As one of the biggest competitors in the health insurance sector, UnitedHealth alludes to expanding even further in 2019. In 2017, they announced their plans to hire more than 400 remote employees over the next couple of years. While they are a Minnesota based company, they house employees in almost every state. There are currently over 3,000 open positions listed on their career website, and many are technology based.

AtriCure

Based in Ohio, AtriCure announced their $1.5 million expansion this past February, which includes plans to expand their Mason headquarters by 5 acres and to create more than 100 jobs. According to LinkedIn, 52 open positions are currently available. Some not-so-typical employee benefits include an onsite fitness center, pet insurance, and employee stock purchase plans.

Clover Health

Backed by Alphabet and funded by top investors, this health insurance startup is making huge strides in the industry. With three offices spanning the country, Clover Health offers healthcare IT candidates career options in New Jersey, Texas, and California, as well as many remote options. They currently have a Director of Information Technology position available, among various others in the technology field.

Healthcare IT Leaders

Pairing the best IT talent with their ideal role is what our team of Consultant Advisors at Healthcare IT Leaders do best. We are constantly hiring top-notch consultants and placing them in high level and high paying positions. For those skilled in Epic and Cerner, we specialize in matching you with the most innovative and success driven projects. Learn more about our open positions on our website.

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“Tell me about a time when…”

Do you initially panic when you hear this simple phrase during an interview? Even if you’re well prepared, a simple situational question could throw you a curveball in an otherwise flawless interview experience. But there’s no reason to stress. The STAR Method is one you can master in order to nail your interview answers without hesitation.

Why Hiring Managers Use Situational Questions 

One of the best ways to predict a candidate’s future behavior and work style is by analyzing past experiences and decisions. Your responses give hiring managers a glimpse into how you might handle similar situations in a new workplace.

Situational questions also reveal your sense of self-awareness—how you maintain a calm demeanor in challenging situations or how well you work collaboratively through the issue. Low self-awareness may lead to outbursts, poor work quality, and finger-pointing. Show your accountability by recognizing your weaknesses and having examples of how you’re working to improve them. For example, if your soft skills in public speaking are subpar, tell them about a course or networking group you’re taking to refine them.

If you’re applying for a senior position, situational questions can show how well you take initiative, delegate tasks, take ownership, and demonstrate leadership qualities overall. The flow and quality of your story will reveal a lot to your interviewers, so it’s crucial to be well prepared.

What is the STAR Method?

Situational questions, also known as problem-solving questions, are a common tactic used by interviewers. As a candidate, you can use the STAR Method in order to keep your answers organized, clear, and confident.

The STAR Method provides a framework for responding to these tough, open-ended questions so that you answer the question fully and avoid rambling.

Remembering an easy checklist such as the STAR Method ensures you can provide a complete, concise answer to any situational question. STAR stands for situation, task, action, and result.

During the interview, use this technique when responding to the question, “Tell me about a time when you encountered a challenge and solved it”:

S - Once you’ve thought of an appropriate situation, take the time to briefly give enough background to the story. Make sure to include who was involved, the nature of the conflict, where it took place, and when.

T - Explain the task at hand. Who assigned you the task? What was your expected role? What was the expected result?

A - Describe the action you took to resolve the conflict and how you executed the solution. How did you develop the right course of action? If the action was carried out by a team, describe your role and your personal contributions. Include the steps you took and your decision making process in your answer.

R - Talk about the results of your actions, and what the ultimate outcome. Did the actual outcome mirror the expected outcome? Describe what happened and why, and how your decisions contributed to the overall result.

You can add another “R” to this technique for an added bonus to your answer. The extra “R” stands for reflection. A moment of reflection shows an interviewer that you can explain how the actions you took directly impacted the result of a situation, and what you learned in the process. If the outcome wasn’t perfect, explain what you would do differently today if you were posed with the same conflict. This shows the strength of your accountability and self-awareness.

Prepare for the Interview

Some examples of the types of questions you may be asked and should be prepared for are:

  • Tell me about a time when a project you were managing had to be delayed. How did you handle that?
  • Describe a time when you came up with a new approach to an inefficient process.
  • Describe a time when you anticipated potential obstacles in an upcoming project.
  • Tell me about a time where you had to change course in an instant mid-project.
  • Describe a scenario where you made a critical mistake.
  • Can you recall a time where you had conflicting pieces of feedback on a project? How did you handle that?

Review the job description and consider what sorts of conflicts may arise in that position, and what questions the interviewer might ask based on that. Anticipate the questions you’ll be asked by making a long list of potential questions and brainstorming your responses ahead of time. The best way to prepare for these questions is to practice with another person. Reach out to your consultant advisor to rehearse with you. Grab a friend and ask them to rehearse with you.

You can ensure smooth sailing on the interview day by working through any blunders before the interview. Working through the blunders prior to the interview will ensure smooth sailing on the big day.

Do’s and Don'ts of the STAR Method

Resist the urge to make your story sound more impressive by exaggerating or twisting the truth. You may confuse yourself and get lost in the story, or even worse, someone in the room may be familiar enough with the situation to call your bluff.

Avoid talking about a time when you went above management or acted independently of your team, as this may be a red flag to employers. Instead, demonstrate creative collaboration, and independent initiative backed by your team.

Alluding that others are to blame for your past shortcomings reveals to interviewers that they can expect this out of you in the future. Be sure to avoid ridicule and blame, and instead, take these questions as opportunities to showcase your positive qualities and to show ownership of mistakes. Respond with a truthful, human, and descriptive story by using the STAR Method to provide organized, linear answers.

Use The STAR Method for Success

With these tips you’ll be well on your way to scoring the next role of your dreams. Preparing for tough situational questions and using the STAR Method to organize your responses will guarantee you answer the interviewer’s most difficult questions with confidence.

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It’s finally spring, and that means it's time for growth and new opportunities. For job seekers, it's also a good time to refresh your job search strategies by revisiting key tools like your resume, social profiles and your interview approach. 

Finding a new job can seem daunting at times. Applying, interviewing and showing your best self throughout the whole process is stressful, especially if you're not seeing results or getting feedback from hiring managers. 

Our advice?  Stay positive—and check down on the key items below to spring clean your job search and nail your next interview.

1.) Update your LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn is a great tool for employers, but it's also where you can showcase your experience and skills. It’s an integral piece of your personal brand. Hiring managers check your LinkedIn profile to see if it mirrors the information on your resume. They also look at your appearance (e.g. your photo), and search for additional clues like your groups, volunteer work, and status updates to understand who you are as a person and a professional.

Take the time to spruce up your LinkedIn profile and make sure your information, especially your bio, latest projects, and profile picture are up-to-date.

2.) Spruce up your resume

It may seem obvious, but a resume with even one small error can be a deal breaker for hiring managers. Simple mistakes can hurt your chances of landing a job. Make sure to re-read your resume out loud to ensure it flows well, and have a trusted friend/colleague or recruiter review it and give feedback.

It’s important to tailor your resume to the position you’re applying for by highlighting the applicable experience you have to the new role. Cut out any information that may be irrelevant like your hobbies or grade point average from high school.

3.) Showcase your continuing education

Lifelong learners stand out in a crowded job market, and showcasing your continuing education is a great way to differentiate from others. A commitment to improve your soft skills, for example, by taking a communications course or by joining a Toastmaster's group shows initiative that hiring managers appreciate.

In health IT, adding new certifications, staying current with the latest versions of enterprise software, or even exploring new fields, like AI, are steps that show intellectual curiosity and a willingness to keep your skills up-to-date. Make sure you add any new coursework or continuing ed to your resume, and don't be shy about telling interviewers how these courses help make you a better employee. 

4.) Write a stand-out cover letter

A cover letter may not be required for most online job applications, but a brief, engaging cover note or intro email can help you stand out by highlighting details in your resume that you don't want an employer to miss. 

A cover letter is the first glimpse an interviewer has into who you are as a person, your voice, your attention to detail, and how the experience listed on your resume will pertain to your new role. In your letter, you can explain your recent projects, how you can help the company with your skills, and show that you’ve extensively researched the company’s mission statement and values. 

5.) Shine during the phone interview

Phone interviews are integral during the hiring process. It’s the first time the interviewers can bridge the gap between your resume and the real you. Here are some quick tips to succeed in phone interviews:

  • Smile while you talk! Even though they aren’t able to see you, a smile comes through in your voice.
  • Make sure you’re in a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted. Things like dogs barking, construction noises, or even the background noise of a coffee shop can be distracting to the interviewer. Make sure your phone is charged and that you have good reception as well.
  • Give a little extra time between your interviewer’s question and your response. Since body language is out of the question during phone interviews, it’s important to give an extra second or two in between questions and responses to make sure you aren’t interrupting the interviewer mid-thought. It will avoid the awkward “go ahead, no you go ahead” scenario.
6.) Close the deal

You’re up-to-date with your certifications, you spent hours perfecting your cover letter and resume, and the interview itself went flawlessly — now what? These final three steps are crucial to ensuring the job is yours:

  • Ask for the next steps in the interview process. This is important because it shows you’re eager to continue in the right direction and get the ball rolling.
  • Genuinely thank them for their time and the opportunity. Showing gratitude will go a long way.
  • Send a follow up thank you email by the next day. Show your excitement for the position, and thank them again for their consideration. If it comes down to you and another candidate, the one who sends the follow-up email will stand out that more and could be the deciding factor in who receives the offer.

With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to becoming the leading candidate for your desired role. We hope you land the job of your dreams this spring.

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Looking for an edge in a competitive hiring environment? Personal branding is one way to stand out from others. 

Now we're not saying you should design a logo for yourself (although you can). Instead, we're talking about building name recognition  by establishing credentials as an expert in your field and sharing your expertise with others.  

There are a variety of ways to get started, like speaking at conferences, but online information sharing, on social media and through other channels, is a tried-and-true path to quickly build your brand and connect to others in your field. 

Benefits of a Personal Brand

According to J.T. O'Donnell of Work It Daily, a personal brand is your personal reputation and how it is portrayed to your industry peers and potential employers. Just like a company has a brand, it’s important for people to have a brand, too. It’s the look, feel, voice, and reputation of who you are as a person and professional.

Here are a few reasons why building a personal brand is important:

  • Create trust and authority in your industry
  • Become a top influencer in your field
  • Share your industry knowledge and expertise
  • Showcase your value more effectively to employers
  • Connect with colleagues, potential employers, and mentors

So what are the building blocks of a personal brand? Let’s dive in.

How To Build An Online, Personal Brand

What shows up in Google search when you type in your name?

Think of the first page of results as your personal brand. Do you like what you see?

Luckily, you can control these results by building an online, personal brand. Here are a few digital assets you’ll want to create:

  • Personal Website: You don’t need a multi-page website, but it’s a great idea to purchase and own the domain of your full name. This way you literally own this digital real estate associated with your name. Your website can include information about you, your expertise in the healthcare IT industry, your resume, and a contact form so potential employers can easily connect with you.

  • Blog: Many industry experts and influencers create a blog on their website so they can share their personal opinion and industry insights. If you are an Epic or Cerner expert, this is a great opportunity to share best practices, technical tips, and industry know-how with others in your network.

  • Social Media: Social media profiles are crucial to your online personal brand. At the very least, create a Twitter and LinkedIn profile. Social media profiles also rank on search engines so keeping active profiles with regular updates will allow you to give potential employers and others in the industry a look into who you are as a professional.

  • Join the Conversation: If you write blog posts, you’ll want to share these on your social media pages. You can also share industry articles, trends, and opinions. But sharing valuable content and insights is half the battle. It’s crucial to engage with other individuals in the healthcare IT industry, especially on Twitter and LinkedIn. Follow other influencers and industry leaders to respond to their tweets and posts. You can also identify conversations on Twitter by following hashtags like #HealthIT or joining Twitter Chats. Twitter is a great place to join the conversation at annual conferences, such as HIMSS and Epic UGM.
  • Be Authentic: Your online brand should reflect who you are as a person — in-person! Use an updated and professional headshot photo and speak online in a professional yet natural manner. Your online persona should match who and how you are in real life.

One of our partners, Sue Schade of StarBridge Advisors, has developed an excellent personal brand over the years. Not only is she associated with StarBridge Advisors, Sue writes a highly-regarded and often referenced blog that is republished on Healthcare IT News. She hosts this blog under her website — www.sueschade.com.

Sue is also very active on Twitter and LinkedIn and contributes valuable and insightful information and advice online to the healthcare IT industry.

Building a strong personal brand online will take time but the first step is to get started!

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Leading ERP Consulting Firm for Hospitals and Health Systems Offers Kronos Implementation, Integration and Staff Augmentation Services

Healthcare IT Leaders, a KLAS-rated health IT consulting and workforce solutions firm, is pleased to announce its inclusion in the Kronos Workforce Dimensions Technology Partner Network. The designation highlights the continued expansion of the Healthcare IT Leaders ERP practice for hospitals and health systems.

“We’re excited to be part of the Kronos network. When customers work with us as a trusted Kronos partner, they can do so with confidence that our consultants are utilizing best practices for implementation, upgrade and integration services,” said Brad Elster, Principal and ERP Practice leader for Healthcare IT Leaders.

“Healthcare providers are under increasing pressure from rising costs, complex compliance requirements, and fierce competition for talent. The Workforce Dimension Technology Partner Network works with software providers, developers, and Kronos customers to deliver new and engaging applications and solution extensions that allow everyone to get more done faster through better insights and a simplified user experience,” said Mike May, senior director, Workforce Dimensions Technology Partner Network, Kronos.

Healthcare IT Leaders was recently ranked second overall for Business Solutions Implementation Services, a category inclusive of ERP, in the 2019 Best in KLAS: Software & Services Report. KLAS is a leading independent research firm whose insights are based on direct feedback from thousands of healthcare professionals.

“Our clients tell us that ERP and workforce management are important components of their overall IT strategy. Our KLAS-rating for Business Solutions Implementation Services and our Kronos Partner designation highlight our deep expertise for health systems seeking ERP consulting and workforce solutions,” added Elster.

Workforce Dimensions by Kronos is the first next-generation workforce management solution, delivering a fully responsive user experience, artificial intelligence, and embedded analytics to drive in-the-moment decision making. The open application programming interface framework of Kronos D5 makes it quick and simple for customers to extend the value of their workforce management investment with innovative and tightly integrated partner applications that drive user adoption.

About Healthcare IT Leaders

Healthcare IT Leaders is a KLAS-rated, national leader in IT workforce solutions, connecting healthcare provider and payer organizations with experienced technology talent for implementation services, consulting and full-time hiring. Areas of focus include EMR, ERP, RCM, CRM and PMO. Based in Greater Atlanta, our company is ranked on the Inc. 5000 (2018, 2017, 2016, 2015), and has been named a Best Place to Work by the Atlanta Business Chronicle and one of America's Best Professional Recruiting Firms by Forbes. Learn more at www.healthcareitleaders.com.

About Kronos Incorporated

Kronos is a leading provider of workforce management and human capital management cloud solutions. Kronos industry-centric workforce applications are purpose-built for businesses, healthcare providers, educational institutions, and government agencies of all sizes. Tens of thousands of organizations — including half of the Fortune 1000® — and more than 40 million people in over 100 countries use Kronos every day. Visit www.kronos.com.

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Women make up less than 20 percent of U.S. tech jobs, even though they make up more than half of the U.S. workforce. The stats are even more shocking at the top of the food chain—of the CEOs who lead Fortune 500 companies, only 24 are women. 

But times are changing and many leaders, especially in the healthcare IT industry, are making it their mission to improve gender equality, especially at the leadership level.  

We chatted with Sue Schade, Principal at Starbridge Advisors and nationally recognized healthcare leader, and Gale Thompson, Advisor at Starbridge Advisors and leadership coach, to learn more about a new service, C-change, and their goals to transform the status of women in the healthcare IT industry through leadership coaching.

Why did you start C-change? What was the motivation?

Sue Schade: I’m passionate about developing the next generation of leaders, in particular helping to develop women leaders in health IT. Throughout my career, I’ve spoken with countless women in the industry and have helped them make decisions related to their career, family, and education. I’ve had a long-standing passion and commitment to help other women advance in their careers and want to take it to the next level. We have several female-focused groups and meetups, like #healthITchicks and the HIMSS Women in Health IT initiative, but there aren’t any programs aimed directly at improving the leadership skills of women in the healthcare IT industry. We want to provide that service in order to develop the next generation of female leaders.

What is the goal of C-change and the leadership coaching programs?

Sue Schade: Our goal is create a world in which female IT professionals hold up half the world in healthcare at all levels. We want to support the development of female leaders at all stages of their career such that they enter, evolve, and attain leadership positions at a rate equal to their male peers and in a way that fully utilizes their strengths.

Gale Thompson: We want women to be seen, supported, and expected as leaders. By drawing on their strengths, values, and personal qualities, women can become effective leaders who utilize emotion and logic to provide valuable change and innovation to their organizations. Our goal is to have women lead the next wave of what good leadership looks like.

Can you tell us about the “Equipping Emerging Leaders for Success” course?

Sue Schade: I will be leading this course and it’s aimed at women early in their health IT career who are looking to develop their leadership skills. I will conduct a 6-month online series of participative group webinars for aspiring women leaders. Each series will be limited to 20 participants and include 6 one-hour monthly sessions, each with a presentation and small group breakouts for discussion on topics ranging from building confidence to negotiating for success.

Can you tell us more about the “Harnessing Your Strengths” course?

Gale Thompson: To be an effective and authentic leader, knowing yourself and owning your strengths is the first step. This course will help participants identify their own unique set of strengths and how they can be harnessed so female leaders are also better equipped to see and develop them in the people they work with on a daily basis. It’s crucial for a leader to align their strengths and to call on the strengths of others in service of their collective goals and to create better outcomes.

This will be an interactive, online small group course with 6 sessions for 1 hour augmented by two 30-minute individual sessions with me. At the end of the course, participants will understand how to use their unique strengths skillfully in order to exhibit the leadership behaviors that will enable them and their teams to be more effective.

Are you offering any other programs in addition to the online courses?

Sue Schade: Yes! In addition to the online courses,  C-change will offer a variety of tailored services to leaders and organizations who want to take their leadership, teams, and culture to a different level. Our other services include One-on-One Leadership Coaching and Team Coaching. Some of the training and assessment topics include Dare to Lead and The Nervous System and its Impact on Leadership.

How will you measure the success of C-change?

Sue Schade: We know we will make a positive impact on every woman who participates in our program. And we’ll know we made a change when 50% of leadership roles in the healthcare IT industry are occupied by women.

If you’re interested in participating in C-change and one of the courses, visit StarBridge Advisors to learn more. On their website, you can receive all the information you need in order to register for the courses or to book in-person coaching. Registration for the online courses is now open and start in early March. Register and develop your leadership skills with Sue Schade and Gale Thompson here.

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Healthcare IT Leaders Blog by Jim Beezley, Director, Cerner Consu.. - 4M ago

It’s said that “failing to plan is planning to fail,” and that’s certainly true in large-scale health IT projects. In my experience, one of the biggest possible failure points in any project is an inadequate resource plan. Paying scant attention to—or simply underestimating—the staffing requirements for any major initiative may cause serious delays and frustration.

Fortunately, there are several preparatory initiatives that can be undertaken, to assure this area of risk can be reduced before a project gets to full swing.

Major areas to evaluate and plan for are:
1. Correct work-effort estimates
2. Proper allocation of resources
3. Knowledge Transfer
4. Leadership for support and motivation of staff

Estimating Work-Effort Resources

A comprehensive table of all roles is needed for the project, with total hours across project-duration and as a percent of each role’s FTE (i.e. 25% for 10 months). Mapping the suggested role/titles provided by the vendor to role titles used at your health system is a first step.

All large EMR vendors have work-effort estimates, sometime included in contracts. Use a vendor’s numbers with a grain of salt—as they are often conservatively modeled around idealized conditions.

A realistic estimate of work effort will allow for unforeseen issues along the way as well as some turnover, so it’s a safe bet to add 10-20% to your vendor’s estimates. (Related reading:  see my colleague's advice for estimating training staff)

I also recommend reaching out to peers and other customers to ‘gut check’ your conclusions. Talking to other hospital leaders about their resource plans for a similar-sized project is a helpful validation step.

Proper Allocation of Resources

The challenge here, of course, is that work ebbs and flows from week to week for the duration.

A 50% allocation role doesn’t equal 20 hours each week. It’s a weekly average that plays out over many months. Any given week might be 2 hours for a light week or a full 40+ hours for a busy event week.

Understanding these peaks and valleys and planning accordingly is critically important and each resource’s manager, including those in non-IT departments, must be supportive of time spent away from regular responsibilities to meet the goals of the project.

If an IT analyst is trying to support the current production system and implement a new system, they will be conflicted and stressed. Similarly, a departmental subject matter expert may be challenged to “do their day job” during peak weeks of design, testing and go-live. That’s why I feel it’s best to have fully dedicated resources for the most critical and high-allocation roles (>50% roles).

Knowledge Transfer

It’s not realistic for your staff to have deep experience in your new solution at the start of a new project. However, by the time you’re at the go-live conversion, you do want your IT Analysts and SMEs to be confident experts.

If the vendor is fully participating, in theory, they bring the experience to help get knowledge transferred to your team. However, the vendor consultants are not always fully experienced or allocated correctly themselves. Often your health system is competing for their time; some consultants have multiple client projects.

Don’t rely on the vendor intrinsically being a single silver bullet. Engage the vendor in defining their plan to inject experience. Separately, encourage your staff to:

• take ownership for their field (avoid victim mentality)
• have initiative to become ‘experts’ by seeking educational resources
• be creative and focused to overcome barriers to progress
• report issues and don’t be afraid to seek help when needed

Leadership

Strong and encouraging leaders can make the difference. Hoping every team-member does what is needed, is alone, not a winning strategy. Being hopeful is fine. But being hopeful and taking daily action to inspire, encourage, commend quality & productivity and expose and defeat problems, will surely improve results.

Leaders need to be actively engaged and supportive in the work-teams and tasks. If they only float above waiting for escalations, they cannot fully inspire and guide. Your staff will appreciate the right balance of support, encouragement and appreciation, without micro-managing.

Jim Beezley is Director, Cerner Consulting for Healthcare IT Leaders. Jim has led multiple, large-scale client engagements, supporting health system leaders with strategic goal setting & road-mapping, migration from legacy systems, implementations, optimizations, and user adoption.

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"Everybody knows what a recruiter is," says Christine Woods. "What makes us different at Healthcare IT Leaders is that we are Consultant Advisors."

Okay. But just what is a Consultant Advisor?

"It's someone who is going to build a relationship with a candidate and help ensure his or her success," explains Justin Couch, Director of Consultant Advisors for Healthcare IT Leaders.

"Matching candidate skills on paper to a job description is basic recruiting, and that's an important part of what we do. But our Advisors should go beyond that to help candidates find roles that fit their lifestyle needs and their career goals," said Couch.

Consultant Advisors also go the extra mile to support consultants in the field, acting as a sounding board for concerns and challenges, and helping them find their next role after a contract ends.

"The more I know about my consultants, the better service I can provide for them, so it's valuable to learn who they are as people and discuss what goals they have personally and professionally," says Consultant Advisor Neika Powell.

"We definitely, at Healthcare IT Leaders, make sure that our clients and our consultants are happy," says Powell.

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