Rural hospital executive Randy McCleese has been named the 2017 John E. Gall Jr. CIO of the Year. The award is presented by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives and Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.
McCleese, CIO at Methodist Hospital, a two-hospital system in western Kentucky, was praised for working to advance health IT at small and rural hospitals. Methodist includes a 192-bed hospital in Henderson, a critical-access hospital in Morganfield, as well as a medical group and about 20 clinics.
"Randy has worked tirelessly in Washington on behalf of small and rural health systems by educating decision makers about their needs and constraints," CHIME CEO and President Russell Branzell said in a statement. "He also helped broaden the perspective of our members and showed us how we can do more with less."
McCleese has been in his current role for less than a year. Previously, he was CIO at St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead, Ky., and he has taught IT at Morehead State University.
He's also been active in CHIME, serving on the organization's board of trustees from 2012 to 2015 and as foundation board chair in 2015.
McCleese and his peers at small and rural hospitals are faced with the challenge of deploying robust health IT systems, but tend to face more severe financial pressures than their counterparts in suburban and big city settings. The average margin for rural hospitals in 2015 was 0.2%, compared to 4.4% for urban hospitals, according to Healthcare Management Partners.
"How do we set the priorities between information technology items and equipment that provides direct patient care?" McCleese asked.
But he also faces some of the same challenges as those at larger hospitals. One of the biggest: understanding that consumers are becoming more tech-savvy. "How do we keep up with their demands and provide information to them in a manner they want to see it?"