Thought Leader Q&A: How C-Suite It Is
By Lee DeOrio
For The Record
Vol. 31 No. 10 P. 6
Meet HIM professional Tina Haynes, who’s in charge at a Louisiana medical center.
There’s been much discussion over the years about how HIM needs to be in the room when executive decisions are being made. At Claiborne Memorial Medical Center (CMMC), a 47-bed hospital in Homer, Louisiana, there’s no doubt that’s the case.
Tina Haynes, RHIA, a 20-year HIM veteran, became CMMC’s chief operating officer (COO) in January and in May was named the interim CEO when her predecessor resigned suddenly.
To learn more about Haynes’ ascension and her advice for those with similar aspirations, For The Record (FTR) speaks with her about life in the C-suite.
FTR: How have you expanded your HIM background into such a large scope of administrative challenges?
TH: I have envisioned myself in a management role since the beginning of my career. I got my first taste of management as the assistant director of an HIM department. In addition to learning all the areas of the HIM department, I got the opportunity to see how multiple areas of the hospital worked.
I was given the opportunity to be the director of an HIM department at a young age and was lucky enough to be mentored by a couple of the best CEOs in the business. As the HIM field evolved into multiple areas of the hospital, I was able to step into these roles and meet the needs of the hospital. As part of the senior leadership team, I interacted with all of the management staff and learned how all of the departments in the hospital worked together to make the hospital successful. I was actively involved in survey preparation for the entire facility, which gave me an even greater opportunity to learn the ins and outs of different departments of the hospital as well as all of the policies and procedures associated with each.
I knew at this point in my career that I wanted to be a part of hospital administration in some capacity. My HIM background gave me the knowledge of the financial aspect of the hospital, and I had put myself in a position to learn the operations side.
FTR: Do you envision the same level of opportunity being available at large hospital systems?
TH: I do believe that large hospital systems offer the same level of opportunity for HIM professionals to move into administrative positions, maybe even more so. By that, I mean that a large hospital system may have more administrative-level positions that are not available at some smaller facilities—for example, chief quality officer and chief privacy officer.
I believe that HIM professionals are qualified to contribute in the capacity of the CEO, COO, chief quality officer, chief privacy officer, and CIO. You have to be willing to think and step outside of the box to learn all of the aspects of the hospital and put yourself in the position to obtain these jobs.
I believe my experience as medical staff coordinator and HIM director placed me in a position to pursue the COO position. As the COO, one of my biggest responsibilities was managing the HIM department and the revenue cycle. I had to find a way to get the documentation complete in a timely manner in order to file claims in a way that kept the revenue steady. The first thing I did was develop a relationship with the physicians. I believe that the physicians are key to the revenue cycle, and knowing what motivates them enabled me to clean up the old incomplete documentation and to start conversations about appropriate and complete documentation.
I was hired as the COO based on the combination of all of my experience. I believe it was the hard work that I put in as the COO and the results of that work that contributed to me being named interim CEO.
FTR: Are you still involved with HIM operations?
TH: I am still very involved with the HIM operations. As the interim CEO, I am also still the acting COO. As you can tell, my plate is full, but HIM is my first love and I will always be involved in the changes that are going on in the profession.
FTR: How do you develop a solid partnership with your physician staff?
TH: Physician relationships can be tricky, so developing partnerships with them can be a challenge. I am blessed at CMMC in that I have an amazing medical staff that loves the hospital and truly wants to do what is best for CMMC. They all have their own unique personalities; the key to developing partnerships with them is learning these personalities.
I learned their likes and dislikes and, yes, I cater to those likes and dislikes. You have to learn what motivates them—what motivates one may not motivate the other. My goal is to keep the physicians happy and, although there are times that is not possible, I believe it is important for them to know that they are being heard and to know that I am always available.
FTR: What HIT has been implemented at CMMC?
TH: We utilize HMS MEDHOST and EDIS for our EHR for medical/surgical and the emergency department. We have implemented many things that reside on the hospital’s digital infrastructure, including:
• nurse call system;
• telemetry system;
• wireless EKG;
• digital portable X-ray machine;
• reference lab interface;
• lab interface instrument manager;
• language translation technology;
• M*Modal dictation and transcription software; and
• high-resolution radiology viewers.
We have introduced telemedicine that is used in senior care and the intensive outpatient program. Telestroke and telepsych were also introduced in the emergency department.
FTR: What has been your role on the HIT side?
TH: One of my major projects after being hired as COO was to get all of the policy and procedure manuals converted into an online format and approval process.
FTR: What projects are in the queue?
TH: Projects of note are:
• M*Modal upgrade to a hosted version;
• InterQual upgrade;
• an online provider credentialing directory;
• new Omnicell;
• Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center telemedicine upgrade;
• Claiborne Parish School Board telemedicine project; and
• Imprivata OneSign.
FTR: What are the three most important things you have needed from your staff in order to enable you to wear so many hats?
TH: I’ll start with the HIM staff. I need these people to keep doing what they do best. Each one of them was hired to do a particular job in the HIM department, but they have been great in taking the initiative to cross-train. They all know a little bit about each other’s responsibilities, so they are able to step in when someone needs help even without being asked to do so. Therefore, I guess the first thing is to have a great attitude about work, the HIM department, and CMMC.
Next, I will address all of the employees of CMMC whom I’ve needed to adapt to the many changes that have been thrown their way. From the changes in administration, changes in the organizational chart, relocation of some offices, and the many new process changes we are trying, the employees have been great. They have been willing to try new ideas even when they sounded a little crazy. Some have really stepped out of their comfort zones to try some new things. They have all been great.
Thirdly, I just needed them all to be patient with me during this transition process and understand that I am wearing multiple hats. Everyone has been so supportive, from the board members, medical staff, and C-suite peers to the department managers and employees. Many of them take the time to remind me that I am wearing multiple hats and that it will slow down a bit at some time.
So I guess to sum it up: good attitude, adaptability, and patience.
FTR: What advice would you give other HIM professionals who don’t envision their position as HIM administrator as the top rung on their career ladder?
TH: My advice is to not limit yourself by not thinking that far ahead early in your career. What you are happy doing now may change over the years, and you want to place yourself in the best place to take your career whatever direction you choose. Start now by putting yourself in as many situations that you can learn from and grow from even if you never think you may use those skills again. You never know when that skill set may be the only thing setting you apart from the next candidate.
I did not always envision myself as a CEO, but I knew that I loved learning about how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together to make the hospital run, so I put myself in the middle of as many committees and projects as I could to learn more about what made the hospital run from day to day.
— Lee DeOrio is editor of For The Record.