Our employee spotlight this month shines on Tina Burbine, one of our firm’s Directors. We’re excited to share some highlights from a recent conversation with her:
Q: What inspired you to get involved with health IT consulting?
A: Quite a while ago (decades!) I was part of a small technology startup and we were partnered with the Laboratory of Computer Science (now MGHLCS) and Partners Healthcare (now known as Mass General Brigham). We developed and implemented the system’s first population health platform. This experience blended all of the things I love about our industry: the ingenuity of physicians and clinicians, being innovative with data to drive clinical care workflows, and the entire team sharing in this meaningful goal to transform care delivery for patients. Looking back, it was the feeling that our work had genuine purpose which motivated me to stay in our industry and it still inspires me today.
Q: What do you enjoy most about health IT consulting?
A: Two things immediately come to mind. The first is the intricate problem-solving that we’re able to engage in. There’s no shortage of complicated data issues to help address and learn from. The second is the friendships and the tight knit team that come with doing this type of work. The high level of accountability we carry to be sure that the work we do helps our clients and protects their patients is something that our team takes to heart. Internally, we lean in on one another and we operate more like a work family, so we’re not afraid to question our own assumptions or talk about bold ideas.
Q: How have the past several months looked different for you in your job? Personally?
A: Our interaction with clients is by camera now and while it’s working well, I do miss the in-person discussions. What’s interesting is that our work hasn’t changed, but the way that we interact and deliver the work has. For instance, we had to pivot quickly and support our team in learning to facilitate interactive virtual meetings and workshops. It requires a different approach than working with a team in a conference room. As a result, we needed to ensure everyone was comfortable looking at body language and facial expressions in a tiled view while also facilitating, sharing content on our screens and using digital whiteboards!
Internally, our team has always leveraged cloud-based collaboration tools for our work. So we had the framework in place to support our own virtual work. This definitely made the transition to working remotely all of the time effortless and helped us share best practices for remote teams with our clients as well.
At home, our dog is happy about this change – she now spends her days sleeping at my feet and can often be heard snoring over my Zoom meetings. I’m extremely grateful for the dedicated home office space we have and that our kids are grown. My heart goes out to those who are juggling virtual school, limited summer entertainment options for their children, taking care of little ones, and professional obligations during this time. I do love the random child Zoom “pop-ins” during meetings – this has happened with a few clients and it’s been fun to see their family! It’s not an opportunity we would otherwise have, so that’s definitely a perk in all of this.
Q: What are challenges or changes you’ve heard from clients after experiencing this pandemic?
A: It’s been so interesting – the collaboration through the pandemic has produced meaningful decisions about data that enabled health systems to create dashboards and reports at supersonic speed. This rapid-paced analytics work culminated into many team’s data processes maturing. So, I think it’s important that organizations acknowledge the good data work that has been achieved. The pandemic actually matured their agile and analytic processes without teams realizing it, which is easy to overlook because of the extreme urgency teams are keeping pace with.
On the flip side, many of the data challenges that teams may have been experiencing before were exacerbated and highlighted by the pandemic. For instance, developing new metrics such as an available staffed bed (different from an available bed) can become overly complicated very quickly if the data from the nurse scheduling optimization tool is not currently integrated anywhere. Teams end up doing a lot of manual data extraction and manipulation to support this, which is cumbersome when a critical metric like this is needed daily (or more frequently).
It’s important for teams to reflect on what they’ve learned through this experience and identify how their data maturity influences future analytic plans to support their health system’s recovery. Identify areas of opportunity for improvement and create an agreed-upon action plan that captures the next steps the team must take together to continue propelling their organization’s data maturity forward.
Remember, data is a team sport!
Q: Looking back, is there advice that you wish you had been given upon entering the industry?
A: Yes, I wish I had been warned about just how complex the data challenges can be! For those who are just starting their careers in healthcare IT or who may be transitioning in from another industry, please leave any preconceived thoughts behind as you walk through the healthcare door because there’s no other industry that will challenge your thought processes about data like this one. Seek out team members who are passionate about lifelong learning and push yourself to do the same.
Q: Please share a few random fun facts about yourself.
A: Let’s see, I am podcast obsessed – any of the series by Wondery, TedTalk, The Moth, Good Life Project and the Happiness Lab are always in my favorites list. A quote I live by is Emerson’s “We find in life exactly what we put into it.” My first thought in the morning is about coffee, not data – which may come as a surprise to some!