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Mount Sinai CIO: IT vision is unchanged despite pandemic

Kristin Myers talks about transitioning to the role of Mount Sinai CIO in the middle of a pandemic.

For 19 years, Kristin Myers has led IT efforts in various roles at Mount Sinai Health System in New York. Now, she will continue to drive IT transformation in her new role as Mount Sinai CIO.

In her previous roles as director of IT and senior vice president for technology, Myers led initiatives such as the Epic clinical and revenue cycle implementations and the transition to ICD-10 coding, a system used by providers to classify and code diagnoses and procedures.

Myers, who started her new role as Mount Sinai CIO earlier this month, said despite the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, her vision for IT has not changed, although how she executes on that vision may. In this Q&A, Myers describes transitioning into her new role in the midst of a pandemic, as well as why culture is critical.

What is it like taking on the role of Mount Sinai CIO in the middle of a pandemic?

Kristin Myers: It has not been easy to take the new role during this period, given our normal operations were significantly disrupted and the sudden change to leading a remote workforce. The majority of IT, including me, are still working remotely, but we were able to quickly adapt to this new norm by leveraging different communication platforms to keep integrated and coordinated. Despite these challenges, the IT department was able to keep focused and provide the needed support for our patients and health system. Being familiar with the IT department and receiving tremendous support from IT leadership and teams definitely eased my transition to CIO.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for you in the realm of health IT moving forward?

Kristin MyersKristin Myers

Myers: Digital transformation has always been a strategic priority, but COVID-19 has increased the urgency and opportunity to move toward a digital enterprise. We will continue to develop and integrate digital capabilities across the organization and will also focus our investments to improve patient experience to build stronger and longer-term relationships with our patients and their families.

What about the biggest challenge?

Myers: As with many other health systems, we will continue to face cost pressures and will need to reprioritize our investments to focus on the most strategic initiatives.

Are your goals different than what they might've been had there not been a pandemic?

Myers: I've always had a clear vision and strategy for IT, and it has not changed much due to COVID-19. Although the priorities and goals have remained the same, the timing and method of execution of certain initiatives have changed due to COVID-19, a remote workforce and other factors.

What lesson have you learned from leading previous IT efforts that you'll apply to the Mount Sinai CIO role?

Myers: One of the key lessons I've learned is that culture is the backbone of our organization and also the driving force for our employees, our most important asset within the health system. I want to continue building a resilient, agile and transparent culture within the IT organization where employees are able to trust their leadership and each other and also be able to anticipate and adapt to the changing landscape and uncertain times. Through the COVID-19 situation, IT was able to emerge stronger and more unified than ever.

Editor's note: Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.

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