Collaborate and Listen
By Julie Pursley Dooling, MSHI, RHIA, CHDA, FAHIMA
TECHNOLOGY IS OF TEN blamed for our troubles and challenges working with healthcare data. However, human interaction
and poor communication is really where the problems begin.
The cornerstone of effective communication is successful
data and information governance within healthcare’s cross-functional teams. Cross-functional teams are commonplace in
organizations today. They represent a collaborative team approach and are crucial for executing in this fast-paced and ev-er-changing work environment. This cooperation begins with
solid communication and a foundation of accountability within
core teams, and can spread across a variety of cross-functional
teams working on cross-functional projects.
Recognized Need for Skill Sets
The expanded need for allied healthcare professionals to have a
diverse skill set continues to trend throughout the healthcare industry. Angie Fergen, RHIA, CHPS, manager, identity services,
Epic security coordinator at Saint Luke’s Health System (Saint
Luke’s), based in Kansas City, MO, recognized this need long
ago when she was forming her team of information technology
and health information management (HIM) professionals.
“It takes someone who is well-rounded in healthcare, but also
detail-oriented to get into the weeds and analyze what needs to
be done,” Fergen says. Fergen and her colleague, Sharon Korzdorfer, MPA, RHIT, director of HIM at Saint Luke’s, strive for a
strong communication connection between their teams.
“Our best practices from the HIM side include weekly meet-
ings with our HIM program manager. This allows us to stay in
sync on the number of projects, testing outcomes, ensuring
there are enough resources on both sides to handle changes and
updates, and learning what our staff are seeing on the opera-
tional side of things,” Korzdorfer says. “This constant commu-
nication, even if it’s just a quick 30-minute chat, helps tremen-
dously to manage and predict outcomes.”
Rapidly Changing Environments
While these professionals have a strong communication foundation, there are many situations where lines can quickly become
blurred due to a rapidly shifting environment. For instance,
when a merger or acquisition takes place between organizations, project timelines can be fast tracked. When the deal is
being crafted and negotiations are underway, organizational
leadership is usually not well positioned to share information.
Once the deal is inked, cross-functional teams jump into action. The project managers can instantly inherit another layer of
complexity when working on and planning projects with new or
unfamiliar individuals and teams. These cross-functional teams
are directed to cooperate and collaborate on multiple cross-functional projects that have very tight deadlines, creating the
potential for a stressful and confusing work environment.
In an article in Harvard Business Review, the author notes that
“teams often fail because the organization lacks a systemic approach. Teams are hurt by unclear governance, by a lack of accountability, by goals that lack specificity, and by organizations’
failure to prioritize the success of cross-functional projects.”
Pre-Defined Approach and Expectations
The need for a pre-defined approach for the creation and man-
agement of cross-functional teams is clear. A formal reporting and
accountability structure should be implemented and enforced—
and be supported by all levels of management and leadership.
Careful initial selection of individuals and teams that will rep-
Navigating Privacy & Security / Illuminating Informatics / Standards Strategies / Road to Governance
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