Our team member spotlight this month shines on Chris Jenkins, one of our firm’s Senior Vice Presidents. We’re excited to share some highlights from a recent conversation with him:
Q: What inspired you to get involved with health IT consulting?
A: I’ve spent most of my career working for health systems and was able to learn so much about the business of healthcare and the effective and ineffective use of technology. Moving into consulting, I liked the idea of using that knowledge to help more health systems. I am inspired by the challenge and excitement of working with different health systems at different stages and bringing value to their individual journeys.
Q: What do you enjoy most about health IT consulting?
A: I enjoy working with different leadership groups and various problems that need to be solved. Coming up with solutions is very rewarding when it all aligns and we truly deliver great work. I have about 30 years of healthcare experience with about 18 years in leadership roles within IT (CIO and CTO roles). Right out of the Air Force, my first role in healthcare was in business operations where I worked in decision support and was exposed to clinical and business service lines. This broad experience gives me an understanding of the healthcare landscape to include the need for alignment with strategy, consumers, operations, process, people, and technology.
In my previous roles, I required everyone on the team to spend time with customers to observe real-time exactly how technology was used. There is so much value in seeing the impact if a system goes down and how technology ultimately affects the patients, caregivers, and business owners at the end of the day. I still carry this theory with me in consulting. I enjoy building teams with team members that closely align with the objectives and who understand why we do what we do. In this, we are able to consistently deliver, meet the needs of our clients and solve the issues facing customers.
Q: How have the past several months looked different for you in your job? Personally?
A: I’ve had a lot less travel – obviously. It’s been a process of shifting from the face to face interaction to learning how to effectively communicate and deliver through a completely virtual environment. With my understanding of how health systems work, I have a lot of empathy for what our clients are going through to deliver services and ultimately take care of patients.
Personally, I think it has shifted how we all work and made us consider how things have been done in the past and how we can improve on that and still be successful now. This is also true in trying to find the balance with young kids. For those of us with children, it is important to still be doing things to engage them – but then balance that with not putting them at undue risk.
Q: What are challenges or changes you’ve heard from clients after experiencing this pandemic?
A: There has definitely been a financial impact to clients as they have had to halt work, continue working with less staff, and manage layoffs and furloughs. All of this while juggling the shift from physical onsite work to remote where possible. There is a lot on everyone’s mind but at the end of the day they still have to do their job, regardless of their role.
Prior to COVID-19, a lot of organizations had a solid idea of their priorities and now they have to reevaluate and determine how to change their way of thinking. Many prior decisions must have a much stronger justification. They now have to go through a very stringent process determining if it is a true value add or a cost saving opportunity.
Q: Looking back, is there advice that you wish you had been given upon entering the industry?
A: I was very fortunate to have a couple of really good mentors. I was given advice that even when I didn’t totally agree with it, I was able to learn from it. I really learned from the ground up how business and IT functions and works together. I was exposed to many different areas within healthcare and was challenged by my mentors to LEARN and DO more. Based on this, my advice is to learn the big picture. Think about all of the things that influence the healthcare industry and then branch outside to other industries.Think about how other industries are implementing technologies. Focus on other business and what works for them, and then analyze how some of it can be applied to healthcare.
Q: Please share a few random fun facts about yourself.
A: I am an adventure junkie at heart but have a family which helps me keep some of that in check now! I have been known to wear a kilt on multiple occasions, once while competing in Highland Games. Having grown up in Tampa, I also love being outdoors and on the water fishing, diving, or just island hopping. Many years ago, I co-founded along with a few others; the original Gasparilla Celtic crew which participates in parades and has a strong commitment to providing time and financial contributions to local charities.