Blog: Changes ahead at CHIME

Last month, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives celebrated its 20th Fall CIO Forum "back home" where the first one was held, the Coachella Valley in the Southern California desert.

One major bit of post-convention news for CHIME was that there will be a change at the top. Perennially cheerful CHIME President and CEO Rich Correll is to become the new chief operating officer of the 1,400-member organization once the search for a new president and CEO is completed—expected by March.

Correll has headed the organization since its founding. "CEO" was added to "president" in his title in 2005. I've had the good fortune to have attended the past two CHIME fall events, which is the larger of its two semi-annual gatherings, and from personal experience I know Rich and his crew put on a solid, tightly run show with the right balance of social and educational programs. He'll continue heading the day-to-day operations of the organization going forward.

I had a chance to talk this week with Drexel DeFord, board chairman of CHIME this year and CIO of the multihospital Steward Health Care System, Boston.

As in a number of other professional associations, CHIME board members, who serve one-year terms, have been called upon to be the public faces of the organization, while the CEO typically stayed in the background. But there has been a growing sense among members and the board that given the expanding role of IT in healthcare, CHIME's organizational structure had become suboptimal, according to DeFord.

"One of the things I've seen over the last several years, because IT has become such a central issue in the delivery of care, we didn’t’ have a spokesman, with the chair changing every year," DeFord said. "Rich Correll had never put himself in that role and CHIME never was organized that way. The board was very involved in the daily work of CHIME, so Rich had not put himself in that position.

"As we looked at things this year, we came to the conclusion that over the long term we needed a consistent spokesperson, a consistent leader, year over year,” DeFord said. The board will still be fairly hands-on, "but we'll have a consistent face of CHIME."

The ideal candidate for the new CEO position, DeFord said, "will be a CIO, someone who comes from the CHIME ranks." He added: "I think it would be terrific if it's someone who has spent some time on the board of trustees, who really knows the members and knows the relationships we have outside of CHIME with the government and the media and the number of provider and vendor organizations we work with every day."

DeFord said there have been "some initial conversations" with some "very good candidates" and that the board will be entertaining several others, he said.

In addition to a new CEO, DeFord said CHIME just "re-initialized an effort we've had in the past" to attract new members from small community hospitals that have "a real challenge trying to keep up with what's going on."

According to Correll, the average size of a CHIME member's hospital is around 305 beds, roughly the upper 20% of U.S. hospitals by bed count.

"We're missing a lot of folks who could really gain benefit from the educational opportunities we have," DeFord said. Those educational opportunities will include new online courses, a reduced membership rate "and our expertise from just peer-to-peer communications," he said.

"I think all of those things will be helpful if put in the hands of our smaller rural hospitals," DeFord said.



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