Pat Russell, MS, RN, PMP
Application Services Manager, Health IT Services
Pat is a Certified Project Management Professional and Six Sigma Green Belt Certified Clinical Program Director with extensive experience implementing customer-focused solutions in the healthcare industry. As an accomplished project manager, she has a proven track record of exceeding financial, productivity, and timeline goals through the successful leadership of cross-functional teams and the implementation of Six Sigma policies. She is also recognized as a strategic program director who is skilled at identifying and resolving issues while implementing process improvements to increase efficiency, productivity, and workflow.
- How long have you been in project management?
Since 1998 and certified in 2005 as a PMP, with PMI.
- Briefly describe your communication and leadership style?
Project management is all about communication, especially listening and clarifying to ensure understanding first. Collaborative and coaching is the leadership styles I prefer, however, will use the leadership style that supports each team member as required to ensure the project and the team is supported to the fullest extent.
- What are some of the gaps you have identified at various healthcare organizations that created the need to engage project managers?
Project management is meant to fill the gaps, particularly in the clinical arena, where a clinician can listen to the clinical team, clarify their needs and then translate that to the technical team to complete. Then the technical team needs to be aware that at the end of the day, it is the patient that we must always keep in mind as we work to support the clinicians. I have felt that this has always been one of my strongest assets to an organization.
- Tell me about your 1st EHR project experience. How has it influenced the way you’ve managed projects since?
My first project was implementing documentation and the vendor wanted us at the time to only do vital signs and intake & output on one medical floor. We rejected this and wanted to do full documentation in the same time frame. The vendor was not pleased and did not think we could do this however, we did. We were successful with great planning, training, etc., and we even met the same go-live date.
We continued that path as we rolled out documentation and other modules to the organization, always pushing the envelope, however, we always had a plan. This has allowed me to take that same route with doing as much as possible, with a plan that can be executed successfully.
- What clinical/ quality/ operational metrics do you use to determine project success?
This depends on the project, as one metric does not fit all projects. A project manager works with the stakeholders to determine what will measure success and what the measurement is before starting the project. This provides a clear baseline.
- What strategies have you used to keep project team members engaged and completing their activities on time?
Communication, team meetings and if they are struggling to meet a date, a discussion about what the blocker is and how we can overcome it and then execute on the plan. A project manager assists with removing the “blockers” or readjusting the plan with the stakeholders if the blocker is significant and was not considered as a potential risk at the beginning of the project plan. Managing the risks must always be part of the project managers day.
- What types of projects have you led over the years? How do you feel your background as registered nurse has either facilitated successes or created challenges?
Full documentation (documentation, ED, lab, surgery, HH, radiology, med admin, order entry/physician order entry, MU, conversions, upgrades, etc.) and care management. I said this earlier, but my ability to effectively communicate with clinicians and the IT teams to ensure full clarity and understanding between both groups.
- Consider the stakeholders impacted by the projects you are leading (E.g. executive leadership, IT, clinical staff, multidisciplinary teams, finance, other staff, patients, families, community, etc.). How do you ensure stakeholder satisfaction?
- What are some of the advantages/ disadvantages to managing projects with considerations for new healthcare technologies, specifically Big Data, Artificial/ Augmented Intelligence, Cloud, Population Health, and Blockchain?
Things to consider is how I would answer this- business goals, full understanding of the technology to support and is it budgeted and ready to support the solution/end user, how does it need to integrate with other solutions, workflow of the end user and all of the same things you review for any new project.
- What role do you think a PM has in organizational change management?
Communicator and facilitator. A project manager should be able to bring the correct people together to review the current state and assist in determining the future state and the plan to get there, which includes monitoring the success.
- What advice would you give to a new healthcare project manager?
Listening is your greatest skill, ensure you work on it daily. Listening will allow you to clarify and gain accurate understanding. If you are working on the solution while listening, you are not listening adequately.