Raiding the Pennsylvania health system that pioneered its signature healthcare information product, Siemens Medical Solutions lured away the architect of some unique outsourcing agreements.
Pamela Wirth, former vice president and chief information officer of Susquehanna Health System in Williamsport, Pa., last month assumed the role of vice president of Soarian Clinicals for Siemens in Malvern, Pa. Wirth is also the outgoing chairwoman of the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society. While at Susquehanna, Wirth was the key executive for implementing Soarian, Siemens' soup-to-nuts healthcare information system.
Tom Miller, president of Siemens' healthcare IT division, said Wirth was recruited only after he first floated the idea with Susquehanna's CEO. "He basically said, `If we have to lose Pam, the place we would like to lose her to is Siemens,' " Miller said. "It's not stealing if you ask," he said.
Susquehanna officials said in a written statement that Wirth's "new position with Siemens will enhance our relationship with this important provider of services to our organization" and they look forward to working with her in that role. Wirth, 46, worked at Susquehanna and predecessor hospitals for more than 18 years.
Wirth's defection to the vendor side of the equation would not affect Siemens' long-time relationship with Susquehanna or Susquehanna's outsourcing agreements with Laurel Health System and its flagship 56-bed Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital in Wellsboro, Pa., and 49-bed Jersey Shore (Pa.) Hospital, Miller said. Officials at Jersey Shore and Laurel Health likewise said that Wirth's departure has had no impact on their respective IT outsourcing agreements with Susquehanna.
Siemens' policy toward such outsourcing agreements seems to have changed since last year. But Miller said last week that Siemens would be open to more outsourcing arrangements like Susquehanna's agreements.
Wirth's career move from hospital to vendor also slightly tipped the balance of representation at HIMSS. When she steps down at the end of this month, she will automatically move to a one-year term on the HIMSS nominating committee, said H. Stephen Lieber, HIMSS' president and CEO.
In terms of provider and vendor representation on the board, Lieber said HIMSS has no formal requirement, although there is "a philosophy that there be board representation of the constituency of HIMSS membership."
Wirth's move from the customer side to the vendor side was not all that uncommon a career move, and a healthy one, Lieber said. "I actually think this sort of movement is good for the industry because it helps to cross-pollinate," Lieber said.