Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, Palo Alto, Calif., was named to the 2017 Health Care’s Most Wired list, making this the third year in a row the organization has attained the distinction. Leading many of the technological advancements at the hospital is Ed Kopetsky, chief information officer at Packard Children’s and Stanford Children’s Health. Kopetsky recently spoke with H&HN about why technology is so important at the hospital, what new projects are on the horizon and what it means to be an effective CIO.  

Why is technology important to your organization?

KOPETSKY: The technology we’ve heavily invested in promotes [the] continuum of care and access. It’s a strategic priority for optimizing and improving patient care. Many of our patients need continuous or routine follow-up care, so we need to stay connected with them, their providers and their community. As we have evolved ... regionally and nationally, the technology has enabled us to provide and extend patient care. Our goal is care wherever patients are. So technology and integrating patient data across multiple partners is mission-critical for our organization.

As Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford expands, how will technology be involved?

KOPETSKY: [In addition to] our core infrastructure, which includes an enterprise [electronic medical record] with enhanced analytics capabilities, we're putting in significant new technologies in this hospital to make it both state of the art and part of our future plan. We're going to have integrated patient rooms, which will provide support for both the patient and family who stay with a patient.

For example, we are going to use real-time location systems technology to detect when nurses and clinicians are entering the room. A screen will show their names and roles. Are they nurses, doctors or others? We’ve designed around what we’ve heard from our family advisory council on how we can optimize the experience. We think about what we can do better for children who might be here for a month or two, along with their families. Patients and families will be able to order things online [and access] information about their illness [while in] the hospital.

Recently, the Ronald McDonald House near us expanded, and we’ve installed the bandwidth for them to eventually become interactive with our hospital. When the family is visiting, the siblings might not be able to come into the intensive care unit. They then can be linked via video from the Ronald McDonald House.

How has the relationship between your information services team and clinical leadership been important?

KOPETSKY: It was the No. 1 reason we were successful in deploying our enterprise EMR in four months. The No. 1 success factor is inclusion of the frontline clinicians and staff throughout the entire process.

In our IS department, at least a third of our staff are clinicians — nurses, pharmacists, MDs and more. They are the people who know the work flow, the patient care challenges and processes. Many of them, like our chief medical information officer, are still in practice, and we have a very tight partnership.  

We also have a world-class clinical informatics team, composed of both nurses and physicians who are evolving our innovation. They’re not only optimizing our EMR, they’re [involved in] innovation, and we have multiple projects we've already completed with the team.

Our other mission is related to academics and teaching, and Stanford was one of the first universities to get an accredited clinical informatics fellowship program. Our IS department at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital is the host site for that program. I’m actually part of developing the program and working with the clinical fellows, and they’re developing innovation with us.

How has the CIO position evolved, and where do you see it going?

KOPETSKY: A successful CIO has to lead massive change. It’s not just EMRs, but things such as how are we going to adapt to security threats or how are we going to deploy analytics to predictive as opposed to retrospective [insights]? You have to be a concept leader, you have to execute, and you have to have highly reliable and trusted relationships.

You also have to be a developer of future leaders. When I came here eight years ago, we didn't have an analytics program. We didn’t have a chief information security officer function, and we only had one prior CMIO. We had to develop a team of leaders in the IT organization, which we call information services. No one person could take on all of this. You have to be an integrator and developer of a top-level team. If you think about what the position used to be, it was a technologist. Today I have to work with others as a peer executive, and I have to develop future leaders in order to lead change.

What advice would you give to hospital leaders?

KOPETSKY: Engagement at all levels. These are not IT projects. None of this is. It is understanding and leading together as both an essential operational foundation and a strategic investment for the future. I would say, as a leader, really make yourself available and listen a lot.