Below is a list of the organizations our staff selected last year to receive donations. Not only does it reflect our commitment to our communities, but it also demonstrates the variety of interests our staff brings to the table.
At Prominence Advisors, we work with healthcare organizations because we love the positive impact we can support them in having on the patients they serve. We like to bring the value of making an impact to a personal level for our staff, as well. One of the ways we do that is by allowing each staff member to select non-profit organizations to which we will make a donation in their name.
Below is a list of the organizations our staff selected last year to receive donations. Not only does it reflect our commitment to our communities, but it also demonstrates the variety of interests our staff brings to the table.
We're back with our third installment of our latest blog series, where we peek into a day in the life of our great advisors - check out our previous interviews with Melissa and Rose.
Today, we sit down with Brian, a project manager at a healthcare organization currently implementing Epic. Many of us landed in healthcare IT by accident, but Brian cut his teeth in hospital operations. Check out his background and why he's still passionate about healthcare!
Thanks for taking the time to tell us a little about yourself, Brian! What’s your background, and what brought you to Prominence?
I’ve been a certified Pharmacy Technician for 15 years. I started out in a Hospital Pharmacy and moved into several different positions there including Technician, Pharmacy Purchaser for the system, and Technology guru for the Rx information systems/technology we had in place. This involvement led me to the IT department, where they had just begun the process of switching over to Epic, so I was able to work from the ground up implementing Willow at an organization I was very familiar with. 5 years ago I got into consulting after all the sites had gone live, because I wanted a larger challenge helping other organizations implement Epic, but also to help further my knowledge of what else was out there in Healthcare and Pharmacy practice.
You’ve worn many hats. How have your experiences prepared you for the work you do today?
Working in a small Pharmacy IT department of only 2 employees, being responsible for medication purchasing, and consulting have provided a great foundation to my work ethic and drive to overachieve. It’s not just providing the best possible outcome for the client, ultimately, it’s exciting to work with something that directly can make a positive impact for patient care and outcomes at each organization.
You’ve seen many faces of healthcare through your work. What keeps your interest as you work with different kinds of organizations?
The different challenges to help a customer and the huge variances of how a community site operates as compared to a large academic site are very interesting to me. I love a good challenge; I want to learn and grow to better not only myself, but to exceed expectations for each and every organization to help them achieve their goals and outcomes. Healthcare Technology is an ever changing landscape and I love being able to move fluidly with the changes when possible and use that knowledge gained to provide a great experience to our customers.
Ok, let’s break it up a bit… What do you usually eat for breakfast?
Breakfast? Most days I don't eat much if anything for breakfast. If I do have anything it will have something to do with eggs and hot sauce. I love some spicy food.
You use your pharmacy skills heavily every day. Can you tell me about a non-technical skill that has helped you be more successful in your job?
I can think of two, curiosity and a drive for positive teamwork. I am always curious about new technology and trying to figure out new and challenging things.
Teamwork is a key for getting any project through the rocky times and pushing it home on the final drive. Keeping a good attitude for your team provides a positive response in everyone’s work.
What was a recent challenge you solved as part of your job?
My current client has A LOT of unique workflows to accommodate their vast patient population. Recently we were able to design some very intricate dispense logic for the Pediatric Pharmacy that I have never seen before. I am also in process of some custom setup involving interfaces with Automated Dispensing Devices to help fulfill a critical workflow for the Hospital’s PICU department.
We’re to the final question - If you could tell your 14-year-old self something, what would it be?
Never stop learning and keep moving forward. I know most of us in high school felt we KNEW IT ALL and could go out into the Real World and be just fine. Challenges and new information keep us at the top of our game, which is one reason I think Prominence is an industry leader for having great talent as well as great home-grown solutions. Don’t be afraid to keep growing in all aspects of life.
I started my healthcare career at Epic as an Implementer, then moved on to Passport Health Communications (Now Experian Health) and worked as a product manager for a few years. That job required me to travel, and once I found out I was expecting, I took a short-term remote Epic rev cycle consulting position during my pregnancy. After having my child, I was looking for a space to work in the healthcare industry that was interesting, flexible for work, and required little/no travel. A friend recommended Prominence.
How has the variety of experiences you’ve had prepared you for the work you do now?
One of the things I like the most about what I do at Prominence is to create an application and design a UI that addresses the needs of our customers. My experiences have taught me ways to dig into the workflow challenges and make sure I’m making them easier.
What do you usually eat for breakfast?
Coffee…lots of coffee.
Ahh, the joys of parenthood and the sleep challenge! Speaking of challenges, what was a recent challenge you solved as part of your job?
We have a variety of analytics application templates built in QlikView, and I recently had the opportunity to translate some of them into QlikSense. I enjoyed the challenge of figuring out how to use QlikSense. Some of the differences meant approaching the application from QlikView in a new way, to fit with the QlikSense design and still function in a way to add value to the customers.
You deal with computers all day. What non-technical skill has made you more productive?
I am super organized. And I hate having unmarked items on a task list, so being able to check items off a list helps me get things done.
If you could tell your 14-year-old self something, what would it be?
This is a tough question! I’d have to say, despite how important it seems now, high school is not the highlight of life. There will be many more important and life changing times ahead, so don’t focus so much on the dramas of the teenage years.
We’re kicking off another blog series, where we talk with some of our amazing staff about how they ended up at Prominence Advisors and what their workdays look like.
We start with Rose Thayer, who wears a variety of hats around here: her primary role is as a data architect team lead, but she also advises UI approach and design and teaches QlikView skills, both internally and with our clients.
Hi Rose, thanks for telling us a little bit about yourself and what you do! How did you end up at Prominence Advisors?
I grew up in Michigan and went to college graduating with a major in Mathematics, thinking I’d teach high school mathematics. But I was a bit too impatient to wait for teaching positions, which typically open/hire in the late spring/summer, so I looked around at what I could apply for. I decided to interview at Epic, a healthcare software company based in Verona, WI, that I had heard about. When they offered me a job I decided to take it, relocating to new and exciting Wisconsin. I worked at Epic for a few years until I got married (to a guy from my hometown, my mom was very happy) and we decided to move back to MI. I heard about Prominence via people I had previously worked with and was intrigued because (a) the people who worked at Prominence were people I had enjoyed working with, and been impressed by, during our time together at Epic and (b) the flexibility to work from anywhere sounded amazing. Since starting at Prominence I’ve continued to be impressed by the people I work with and I still love the work from home flexibility!
How has the variety of experiences you’ve had prepared you for the work you do now?
My background as a teacher prepared me on how to explain or present information to people. I use that skill daily – whether it’s in emails, training documents, or in a meeting agenda. Presenting complex information can be hard, finding the balance between details and big picture, and I think my background has helped me, although it’s a skill there’s always room to grow in!
At Epic I worked in Technical Services. That role prepared me to problem-solve every day, and to see the problem all the way through to its resolution, taking ownership of the problem and working with people in different roles to come up with solutions. I find my work at Prominence is based around problem-solving in a similar way. No one at Prominence expects me to be able to solve every problem – but they do expect that I own finding the right people to solve the problem.
What’s an example of a problem you solved recently?
A customer noticed that RAM usage on their server due to many scripts running at once was causing issues. Using a tool developed by another member of our team I tested out various versions of scripts to determine which methods were the most RAM intensive. We found some interesting techniques to decrease RAM usage, which we were then able to share with other members of our team.
You have a technical background, but tell me about a non-technical skill that has made you more productive?
Summarizing issues as current state, goal state, and next steps helps me quickly review & prioritize problems that come to me. This helps when reading through dense technical emails or while working on internal processes. Communications you receive may not describe what is currently happening or what they want to happen. You can waste a lot of time trying to figure that out yourself, rather than getting input straight from the source. The simple step of re-formatting my communications to focus on those three steps helps me quickly move on high priority issues and also sift through my inbox.
We are definitely lucky to have your education and math backgrounds at Prominence. With your career development in healthcare over the past 5 years, what interests you most about working with healthcare organizations?
There are so many different areas of healthcare to learn about – from revenue tracking, to OR clinical workflows, to tracking quality compliance metrics. That variety means I get to learn about something new every day, and I get to work with experts in the various areas to learn about their specialty or their focus.
Working from home allows flexibility that even starts with breakfast – what do you usually eat in the mornings?
Slim Fast Chocolate Breakfast shakes because I am too lazy to make my own smoothies. Otherwise Frosted Cheerios. I have a bit of a sweet tooth…
Ok, one last fun question - If you could tell your 14-year-old self something, what would it be?
There are probably a lot of things I’d like to tell 14 year old me, although I’m not sure 14 year old me would listen! You’ll pass driver’s training without damaging anything (and driving faster than 25 MPH really isn’t that dangerous). Getting an A- isn’t the end of the world, you’ll still be employable in the future. Pay attention in English classes – just because most of your writing will be in email form doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be readable. Don’t worry - college is way more fun than high school!
Laura VanHolstyn, Senior Project Manager
This is the third and final part of our 3-part blog series about our workplace culture. If you missed the first part on Purpose or the second part on Balance, feel free to check it them out.
One of the greatest reasons I enjoy my job today is because of the growth I (and my colleagues) experience here. Overcoming the challenge of learning something new brings satisfaction, and it can sustain you through the struggle over the learning curve. What brings job commitment over the long term, sustained over the ups and downs, is seeing those skills for which you toiled open new doors for you and for your company. Growth is energizing, and growth with a purpose can be truly fulfilling.
Through both my personal experiences at Prominence and what I’ve watched my colleagues experience, I’ve seen growth in a variety of ways.
Because of the unique services we provide, there are countless ways to vary and broaden our skills. On the Analytics team, we continue to work through new data management challenges with our customers, in part because we are with them as they break new ground in healthcare analytics. On the Deployment team, what can begin as a short-term contract to fill a lead role vacancy can morph into larger and more complex roles based on the needs our clients must address.
In my personal growth and development since joining Prominence, I’ve been able to go from a basic vocabulary about reporting technology to understanding the fundamentals of SQL and data modeling and working with technical report configuration on a daily basis. At Prominence, we’re never satisfied with doing things just because that’s how it’s always been done. Instead, we strive to identify those processes and tools we can make more repeatable. As part of that, I’ve also been able to hone my skills in assessing improvement needs and crafting and training those improvements.
As I mentioned above, rising to a challenge has its allure, but it’s more sustaining as a workplace motivator when we can use the skills we develop in tackling new problems in an expanded role. Not only do I get to take pride in the work I do to make our jobs more efficient on a daily basis, my efforts are rewarded with the opportunity to direct install process improvements across our whole Analytics Project Management division, adding both variety in my job duties and recognition of my skills. Across the company, our leadership puts faith in our employees and rewards them for their results. We haven’t hired in our leadership – every single one of them started in the same roles we started in, proved their impact and gained new roles where they could share that impact with a team.
We’re lucky to work at an agile company, where we can evaluate the market demands and shift quickly and competently to meet them. It’s interesting to remember that some of our longest and most comprehensive analytics projects began as specialized advisory work to implement a single analytics application. We build trust with our customers because we make a point to do the right thing in all our interactions with them, which leads them to seek us for help solving more challenging and complex problems. This leads us to put our creativity and problem-solving skills to task, building new expertise along the way. We’ve found that, through solving some of these problems, we’ve unwittingly kicked open a door to another business line because our other customers face similar struggles and seek trusted support, as well.
When you work with healthcare organizations, your work always has a deeper significance. Someone’s mother or daughter or sister might be the patient that experiences improved care outcomes today because of the work we helped accomplish. We take that impact very seriously; we know that our time is even more valuable to our clients because they are choosing to invest to solve problems of tomorrow, when they are often faced with difficult choices on how to pay for the problems of today. This is what truly contributes to our workplace culture – the ability to grow, personally, professionally, and as a company, to provide the best, most creative, most meaningful solutions to the problems our clients are just beginning to define themselves.
Jeff Holtman, Senior Analyst and Project Manager
This is the second in a 3-part blog series about our workplace culture. If you missed the first part of the series, Purpose, feel free to check it out.
At Prominence, I see the balance in the lives of the employees, as a result of several things:
How we define and require balance varies, even day to day. Yes, working virtually allows flexibility in schedules, but flexibility stretches further than that. It’s also the variety of opportunities, the input we have on the work we do (and the subsequent workload), and the balance between get-it-done stuff like building a project plan and create-something-from-nothing stuff such as new processes or products.
Prior to joining Prominence, I was in a role that required me to be on call 24/7/365. It didn’t matter where I was or what I was doing, if that phone rang or pager went off, I was back in the car, off to work. I loved my job and the impact I was having on the community, but at times I felt all I was doing was working.
As noted in the previous blog post, it’s important that you’re passionate about your job, but no one wants their job to control their life. At Prominence, we recognize the value in having a balance between time in the office and time outside of it. Our culture focuses on results. As long as your work is getting done on time and your customers are happy, then you’re able to work where you want and when you want. This provides us with the ability to watch our kid’s volleyball practice on a Thursday afternoon or take our dog to the vet on a Monday morning without having to stress about being out of the office. Setting the appropriate expectations with our employees and our clients from the start gives us the ability to be respectful to both our professional and personal responsibilities. Not only do our remote-based analytics team members get the benefit of flexibility, we also work hard in our deployment contracts to be flexible in how often we travel, saving money for our customers and supporting our team with the opportunity to find stability at home.
2. Employees' needs come first
We take pride in the fact that we have excellent staff with the strong skillsets we demand across our whole business line. Everyone at Prominence has the ability to take on at least two of our three business lines: strategic, analytic, and deployment. As someone who assists with our recruiting efforts, believe me when I say it is hard sometimes to find someone that is versatile enough to take on these multiple roles. The last thing we want to do is to lose an individual just because he or she needs to take care of something in their personal lives.
An example of this can be seen in my good friend Carla who write the previous blog on purpose. She was hired when she was 7.5 months pregnant. During the interview process, she brought up needing time off to spend time with the newest addition to her family. Everyone made it very clear that she could then (as she can now) take the time she needs, as long as she is open and upfront about those needs. Personally, I think this is amazing! In the big picture of recruitment and retention, it makes so much sense, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. She remembers talking to her manager when her daughter was around 4.5 months old about a high-profile deployment need, and while he talked to her about opportunity and discussed why she was such a great fit, he never pressured her into the role since it required additional travel and longer hours.
To have a leadership team that respects the boundaries of our trustworthy and awesome staff, even when that makes their jobs harder, is pretty unusual and speaks to the character of the company that I work for and love!
3. Growth and satisfaction
In his best-selling book Off Balance, Matthew Kelly believes work-life balance is a mistake that everyone wants and not one has. He believes that we don't really want balance but rather personal and professional satisfaction.
At Prominence, I see the indicators and signs of satisfaction in the eyes and words of my co-workers. During our company’s quarterly meetings, I’m able to share what I’m doing as an individual for my clients, as well as the impact I’m able to have on the company. I then get to listen to all the amazing things everyone else is doing both internally and externally as we change the way our customers look at their toughest challenges. These times are something I look forward to and I believe inspire us all as we return to our customers and help them grow their institution as we are able to grow ourselves.
So what does balance mean to YOU?
In our next post, we’ll dig in to what “growth” really means and look more closely at how we grow in our workplace culture.
Carla Russell, Process Engineer
This is the first of a 3-part series about our workplace culture that was introduced in last week's blog post.
In his best-selling book Drive, Daniel Pink talks about Purpose (along with Autonomy and Mastery) as a fundamental human motivator. At Prominence, we see the manifestation of purpose as a culmination of several things:
1. Our work aligns with our skills and interests
In middle school, I was taller than everyone in my class. The first question people seemed to ask me was, “do you play basketball?” I tried to want to play basketball, but it was not for me. I was clumsy, I couldn’t dribble, and, most importantly, I didn’t connect my efforts with a successful outcome for my team. Being tall didn’t magically give me motivation.
Having a talent for something doesn’t mean we have passion for it. At Prominence, we recognize the value of doing work every day that you want to do, not just that you can do. Setting the passion bar high means we sometimes have to make tough decisions, but it also means we have fewer long-term problems like voluntary turnover, or having our terrific staff feel under-valued. It also means we have a responsibility, to ourselves and to each other, to be honest about what we want to work on, so we can continue to fuel our motivation.
2. Our work makes a meaningful impact for our clients
When I started at Prominence, it was because of the exciting and important work we do. We all have a passion for the healthcare industry and for the direction healthcare organizations are driven toward in today’s political and technological environment. Our extremely versatile staff fill critical roles within our clients’ IT teams. Our developers bring relevant, timely information about complex topics like readmission rates and sepsis management to the fingertips of healthcare leaders. Our process-oriented, experienced project managers not only look to the root of a problem, such as the role of data governance in the availability of quality metric information, they figure out the infrastructure necessary to lay the right groundwork to address the problems before they worsen. We make a difference to healthcare organizations who make a difference to individual patients, every day.
3. Our work makes a meaningful impact on our peers
Because of the challenging, varied, and cutting-edge work we do, we rely on each other, regardless of role, to contribute our unique experiences to improve the end results across the company. We’re driven to innovation, and we’re excited to collectively put our minds to addressing challenges across the spectrum of our healthcare clients. Our collaborative nature and supportive environment gives us the space to tackle the challenge that isn’t yet well-understood in the industry. And, in working together, we reinforce the expectation that our company purpose is the culmination of the individual purpose we all bring to the table.
In our next post, we’ll dig in to what “balance” really means and look more closely at balance in our workplace culture.
Workplace culture has been in the news lately, especially in tech. Doing away with managers [Zappos], increasing parental leave [Netflix, Facebook, Yahoo!], and of course, addressing the cutthroat, workaholic perception of innovative companies [Amazon]. From the outside looking in, it’s hard to know how much effect these have on the work lives of employees, and how much is just buzz.
Besides the news of other companies, we are proud that Prominence was recently recognized with both the Chicago’s Best and Brightest Elite award and the Modern Healthcare Best Places to Work award. A strong workplace culture has been a value of ours since our founding, and honors like these remind us about how refreshing it is to move beyond neat-sounding snippets of workplace culture to truly work in an engaging, supportive environment every day. We decided to share some of the things we do to recognize the role of workplace culture in our success as an innovative, problem-solving company in our upcoming 3-part blog series. Watch for our first post, Purpose, followed by Balance and then Growth.
Welcome to our third and final blog post in the Buzzwords 101 series, where we’ve been exploring hot topics from HIMSS in more detail. In our previous post, we called Data Governance ‘the art of purposeful infrastructure’. While many kinds of governance approaches could be described in this way, we’re data geeks around here, so data governance is one of our favorites.
What’s art have to do with it?
We say ‘art’, because we find that, across the organizations we work with, meaningful and effective data governance is in the eye of the beholder. For example:
Customer A: Needs help addressing gaps in their organizational understanding and efficiency with reporting tools, ranging from native EHR worklists to standalone BI tools to metrics management databases.
It’s a purposeful world
When we think of governance, we think about the people, tools, and processes that support your effective use of data. The more purposeful you are about defining your approach, the more effectively you can leverage information. Areas to focus on include:
The Intangibles: Communication, Authority, Accountability
While it can be more exciting to focus on cool reporting and BI tools, we’ve seen these challenges take the brunt of the overhaul associated with defining data governance, especially in the healthcare space. The intangibles require paradigm shifts and taking new approaches, which are always difficult. The difficulties are magnified when time and priority are in tight supply.
For successful data governance, some of your most disparate groups need to agree to collaborate in new and demanding ways.
Authority and Accountability:
Through recognizing the time, efforts, and frustrations it takes to build a data governance program, engaged leadership should show, not just speak their support. Relate data governance to your organization’s mission. Your staff wants to save time, harness and utilize more accurate and appropriate data, reduce costs, and increase quality of care. These are all outcomes of effective data governance, and are all goals that should resonate with your providers.
In addition to senior leadership championing your efforts, we’ve also seen the importance of data governance leadership in managing project scope and timelines and to push point people out of their comfort zones. Embarking on a data governance project is an IT version of a marathon, not a sprint; position staff with the expertise and bandwidth to keep your project moving.
We all have being unique in common
As you can tell, Data Governance can take on many different forms. Across the spectrum of people, tools, and processes, the need that seems the most pressing will vary based on both an organization’s current state and the trajectory they are on to reach their future goals. Take the time to understand your maturity level and future vision. Build upon the teams, structures and processes that already exist while you develop new processes, structures and technologies to support longer-term goals. By starting with a foundation in the intangibles of people and how they communicate, your use of tools and technology will be more effective, and your consumers will be ready to reap the benefits the technology can provide.
As we mentioned in our last post, we’re exploring the meaning of several buzzwords we heard frequently around HIMSS in April. Today, we’ll focus on population health.
Population Health and Population Health Management
What is it?
In an interesting article from the CDC about measuring population health outcomes, Dr. R. Gibson Parrish begins the definition of population health with the WHO definition of health. Essentially, the WHO says that being healthy is more than just not being sick; it’s being in a state of “complete well-being”.
Broadening this definition to include population can take many forms. Which population are we talking about? Population health usually assumes stratifying a larger population into smaller, specific categories, to more accurately measure the health outcomes and to better assess the interventions. This definition focuses on health outcomes of the individual and their distribution across a group, where the “group” delineations align with socio-economic demographics such as those from the Census Bureau. While these approaches look at non-health characteristics of a population and then look at health issues they face, a population may instead be formed by looking at people with the same condition, diabetes, for example, and then at the additional health issues they may face.
In addition to defining population health, the paper “Population Health in the Affordable Care Act Era”, also distinguishes the term population management, shifting from a conversation about a static state of being to an active progression toward improvement.
So, we might start our definition by saying that population health management is the process of improving outcomes of a group by bringing the condition of the individuals in that group to a state of complete well-being.
When we talk about population health management, we think about it across a spectrum that includes information, intervention, and accountability. We approach the following challenges in a population health engagement:
A path to success
Successful population health management starts with clear goals. For us, it often starts with analytical insight to pinpoint where to focus management efforts.
#2: Leadership engagement
Once you’ve internalized a definition for population and health and management for your organization and your initiative, we go back to one of our favorite concepts around here: leadership engagement. We recognize the challenges involved in effectively communicating from the leadership level, and we also recognize the irreplaceable value it adds to the success of an endeavor.
In terms of population health management projects, we look at accountability in two ways – both as part of following through on your plan and as part of evaluating the plan’s efficacy.
We love to come back full-circle to assess our projects, using meaningful data and relevant information to illustrate impact. In addition to digging in to the questions below, we’re always looking for the why, or the root cause for the success or the challenge:
Why we’re excited
We’re excited that population health and the management of improving outcomes for a group are buzzwords these days, because it’s exactly where we see our healthcare approach in this technology-centric space: data-driven, outcomes-oriented, and designed with the needs of patients at the center.
Our final Buzzwords 101 post will be on another topic that we love to talk about – Data Governance, or, the art of purposeful infrastructure.
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