Patient-first thinking, continuing education drives staffers at top hospital IT departments

Perceptive IT leaders and shared commitment to enabling patient care all emerged as common themes that employees most appreciated about their jobs.
By Mike Miliard
06:09 AM
Best Hospitals 2017

So just what is it that makes a hospital or health system a terrific place for an IT professional to work? Is it visionary executive leadership? Team spirit and togetherness? Training opportunities? A passion for innovation? Robust budgets for leading-edge technology? Monthly pizza parties?

All that and more, according to the 3,300-plus participants in this year's Best Hospital IT Departments survey. Based on their responses to our employee satisfaction poll, here's what some of them had to say.

"We developed our shared values collaboratively as a team and we have peer-nominated recognition awards that celebrate team members who exemplify our values," said one employee. "We get freedom to find creative solutions and the organization has invested significantly in both IT projects as well as tools and brand new office space to provide an engaging and fun workspace."

Another staffer praised the CIO. "He knows how to lead and inspire others to do great work. He provides everything we need and recognizes the contribution of the entire team. He has a vision that he shares with us on a regular basis along with the steps that have been taken to reach the goals set for the department.

"I also feel supported by my manager who appreciates my work and gives me assignments based on my interests and abilities," this person added. "The department pays for all of the classes offered by our EMR software vendor and my manager encourages us to take as many as possible."

Yet another IT pro noted that being continually challenged to do the team’s best work in service to patients and each other is rewarding in its own right.  "There are always new projects that keep us excited and every day feels like an opportunity to grow, learn new things and put our skills to the test. Also, the flexibility offered to employees makes it easy to have a work/life balance. The team is very supportive of each other which makes all the difference when working in this field."

Ongoing education, perceptive IT leaders and shared commitment to enabling patient care all emerged as common themes that employees most appreciated about their jobs.
Chances for career advancement are "available with ample training opportunities," said one satisfied staffer. "40 hours of training every year as a goal for everyone," said another. "This year, management has increased budget for employee training," a third added. "The opportunity here for advancement is second to none," another employee said.

At one hospital, an employee said that leadership figures, "at all levels, are genuinely interested in associates as people, treat us with respect and are supportive of the organization's goals." Another liked the fact that his supervisor embraced the "leader" aspect of a leadership position rather than the "boss" aspect, and "trusts us for what we know and what we can do and does not micro-manage us and direct us."

Another echoed that sentiment: "My department encourages teamwork and does not micro-manage the team. Therefore we get our work done as assigned!"

"Competent managers that advocate good practices and constructive dialogue" are boons to efficacy and productivity said one staffer. Another likes that the bosses "show sincere appreciation to their staff for hard work."

As important as good leadership is, so is a cohesive and cooperative IT team. One respondent enjoys the fact that their hospital "encourages working together in teams and collaboration with others. They also hold quarterly events that help us function more as a team."

"We have great people and a culture of always doing the right thing," said one employee. 
"My organization makes everyone feel like they are a part of the team," said another. "Coworkers are a second family to me," said a third.

Good communication is essential too, of course. "We have regular town hall meetings where leaders share the visions and company growth," said one staffer. "The IT department communicates all the happenings around the hospital," another added. "That is key in my book."

As might be expected, complaints about compensation levels did outweigh satisfied responses in our survey. We'd all like to make more money. But some employees were happy. One said his or her hospital "provides a good benefits package." Another said the job "pays well for the work that is expected."

Beyond the paycheck, many like the onsite perks, such as the fact that one department takes part in "social events as a team" and offers "nominations for excellence recognition, weekly team meetings and monthly department meetings with recognition time, group service projects, team motivational games," etc. The same team "recently had a surprise celebration for a colleague who achieved U.S. citizenship."

Work-life balance, as always, is another key factor and came up over and over in our survey. "Teleworking in the IT department is by far the best attribute," said one, who noted that employees get two days per week to work away from the central office, "which makes work-life balance huge. "

Ultimately, of course, it's commitment to the patient that matters most, and most respondents to our survey seem to cherish that fact.

"We use technology to help kids get and stay healthy," said one children's hospital employee. "The service we provide has a very positive impact on patient care," said another health system staffer.

Best hospital IT departments: 2017

Meet the winners and find out their winning formula.

Click here to learn more about how we chose this year's winners.

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
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