This is the second year of the Modern Healthcare/HIMSS CEO IT Achievement Awards. In my opinion, they are among the most prestigious awards that can be bestowed on any chief executive officer. After all, it's the CEO who makes the tough calls, has the ultimate responsibility for the organization's success and makes sure that everyone is on the same page.
The life of the healthcare CEO has become increasingly stressful with all the daily challenges he or she faces, including reimbursement issues, employee morale and physician and nurse staffing, to name just a few. Insightful executives know that the clock is ticking, and unless they run a more productive and efficient operation, their system or hospital will fall by the wayside.
It sounds ominous and it is. This industry must use the genius of information technology to greater advantage, and that's why this year's recipients of the CEO IT Achievement Awards deserve recognition. They should be applauded for their courage and ingenuity in bringing state-of-the-art IT to their organizations.
The first recipient of this year's CEO IT Achievement Award is G. Richard Hastings, president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System, based in Kansas City, Mo. Hastings is deeply committed to IT and believes it is a critical component of any continuous-improvement process. As a result, the system's flagship, St. Luke's Hospital, was one of seven recipients, including two hospitals, of the 2003 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.
Judith Pelham, Trinity Health's first CEO, is the second recipient of this year's CEO IT award. Trinity has 24 hospital systems in seven states, with clusters in Iowa and Michigan and other facilities as far apart as Silver Spring, Md., and Fresno, Calif. Pelham called together the system's leadership, and executives formulated a strategic plan with the focus on creating common clinical, financial and enterprise information systems.
The final recipient of the award this year is Leonard Schaeffer, chairman and CEO of health insurance giant WellPoint Health Networks. In January he launched an aggressive and innovative initiative to get computers into the hands of physicians. He explains, "The thinking was: If we're really going to bring healthcare into the 21st century, we have to stop talking about it and start doing something. We said, rather than whine, wish and hope for change, we can do something huge to embarrass, cajole or prod the healthcare community forward."
So we congratulate these three CEOs for their courage, vision and dedication. This industry benefits from their hard work.