The Convergence of IT Leadership and Technology
Kirk Hale is a proven, transformational, IT and business leader who has implemented best practices in IT governance, process development and operational efficiencies. He provides the leadership and drives to deliver state-of-the-art solutions and best in class service.
Using strategic planning and process disciplines along with technology innovations, Hale leads dynamic teams to deliver exceptional business value. Being very customer-centric as well as passionate about personnel development, Hale strives to create an environment for maximum creativity, innovation, and production. Since January 2018 as the CIO, he has been providing strategic direction and leadership to enhance Borland Groover's technical excellence and its use of information assets to deliver the best possible care to its patients.
Kirk Hale, an extremely seasoned and successful professional, exclusively talks to CIOReview.
In the light of your experience, what are the trends and challenges you’ve witnessed happening with respect to the Professional Services Automation (PSA) space?
There are a lot of definitions for PSA, but generally, I think it is anything that helps automate the company’s workflow and capture key data and/or metrics. With that said, the biggest challenges are often finding an end-end solution or a solution that fits the uniqueness of our business. In Healthcare, the EHR is the core of what we do, but bolt-on solutions are everywhere to supplement the shortcomings of those platforms. Customizing the EHR workflow and/or selecting the right add-ons is often the biggest challenge.
Could you talk about your approach to identifying the right partnership providers from the lot?
The availability and type of partnerships are often dictated by the size of your organization and the size and scope of your projects. Solution providers want to cater towards larger opportunities; they don’t necessarily offer solutions or PSA for smaller entities. So the scope and size of your projects dictate what partners become available to you. We look for partners that are innovative, particularly those in the upper right of the Gartner Magic quadrant, and often those that are small enough to work with you and be willing to add enhancements or changes based on our needs. Off the shelf solutions that are inflexible or bulky are too big a challenge for us to adopt, so working with nimble partners that can act as both staff augmentation and provide valued services at the same time work well for us.
Could you elaborate on some interesting and impactful project/initiatives that you’re currently overseeing?
We are a Gastroenterologist (GI)- Specialist practice. We have around 68 physicians in our practice and we see upwards of 100 thousand patients a year. We have around 350 employees and 17 locations around the state of Florida. Healthcare is very interesting because, in terms of non-clinical automation, the industry is relatively behind. Our projects are focused on patient convenience and improving access to our services, data analytics to manage costs, quality and performance, and finally, data protection in terms of cybersecurity. We have recently implemented on-line scheduling, a rules- based engine to improve the efficiency of our scheduling department, mobile access to the EMR for our clinical staff and physicians, multifactor authentication and a multitude of cybersecurity tools, just to mention a few. We have been fortifying our infrastructure with hyperconverged systems and improving our network resiliency as well, in anticipation of leveraging more data analytics and moving more applications to the cloud. Business intelligence and the potential for clinical AI platforms as well as machine learning tools for cybersecurity are on our radar.
What are some of the points of discussion that go on in your leadership panel? What are the strategic points that you go by to steer the company forward?
We have to work diligently with our payers and insurance companies. Dealing with these relationships has certainly been a point of discussion in our meetings. We have to deal with the reduction in reimbursements, and figure out how we continue to produce quality outcomes and maintain our quality of care while our revenues are constantly being reduced. Automation and innovation is a big part of solving this problem and we leverage data to understand our costs and what are our revenue streams. This is the reason why it is critical that we have access to vital and necessary information, which is part of my role as a CIO to ensure the data is available and can be analyzed to produce information that can be used to increase our business efficiency.
How do you see the evolution of the PSA a few years from now with regard to some of its potential disruptions and transformations?
I believe for most organizations, the data center footprint will continue to shrink, and we will certainly see more cloud offerings in terms of Software as a service (SAAS) or Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS). Machine learning and AI will play a role in automation and be integrated more and more into corporate workflows and the tools that we use. Shared data will be critical to enhance the quality of these platforms, and I hope we see more of this as well. Machine learning and AI will start to take the place of rules-based tools and reduce the need for manual input and analysts will be needed to focus on the quality of the input data that will be crucial for validating the quality and effectiveness of the those platform’s evolution.
What would be the single piece of advice that you could impart to a fellow or aspiring professional in your field, looking to embark on a similar venture or professional journey along the lines of your service and area of expertise?
IT has changed significantly as companies have become more and more dependent on automation and innovation. Technology is not something that we use in business; it’s really the business that we are in, regardless of the industry. We cannot survive with knowledge derived from data and tools that allow us to be more knowledge workers. With that said, the roles in IT from top to bottom need to be more in tune with the business and its goals and its vision and be thinking of those things at every turn and with every decision. Healthcare emphasizes this as much if not more than anywhere because not only do you have to be concerned of the staff but first and foremost the mission that the organization has towards patient care and the wellbeing of the community we serve.
I’ve often told up and coming staff or individuals seeking to get into technology-related roles that they must have a fire or desire that extends beyond the scope of their job to be successful. Passion is a must. IT is hard, and the expectations of those that use it are very high. In many ways, we must be self-motivated, but if the passion is there, the results are very rewarding.
My final word on Leadership and IT relates back to what I said earlier. If technology is so vital to the organization’s success, then so must the IT leadership. The CIO, or any other person in a senior technology role, must understand the business, focus on corporate goals and initiatives and have an equal partnership amongst the executive team. The expectation of the CIO role has changed, and it is as much a business role as a technology role if not swinging even more to the prior.