May 06, 2013, 6:08 AM — As a healthcare CIO, Jim Turnbull promotes the use of technology as a tool to improve care and reduce patient costs. He has guided IT initiatives, including the deployment of electronic medical records and computerized physician order-entry systems, at several healthcare organizations. Now CIO at University of Utah Health Care in Salt Lake City, Turnbull was recently named the 2012 John E. Gall Jr. CIO of the Year by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. Here he shares his thoughts on how IT is changing healthcare and how he's guiding IT transformation at UUHC.
"I'm recently engaged, and each of us has one son and one daughter."What's your favorite tech toy? A Taylor acoustic guitarAre you ever completely unplugged? "Yes, very deliberately. When I'm running, skiing, golfing and motorcycling."Next career step: RetirementIs there something interesting that people don't know about you? "My last job before healthcare I was working 2,200 feet underground in a nickel mine in northern Canada. The healthcare field looked better from down there."
What has been your biggest success as CIO at UUHC? It's working with the team that was here when I arrived and having them deliver excellent results. We focused on some core disciplines, getting a good security plan in place, implementing the discipline of ITIL and project management, and really ramping up our game on that side. We focused on what we call strategic management -- or strategically aligned management -- and there's a big focus on recruitment and retention, customer advocacy and focusing on tracking, measuring and communicating our results.
Is it difficult to inherit a team? In my experience -- and I've worked at four healthcare organizations -- the typical thing I find when I walk in is there tends to be a high level of dissatisfaction with IT from other parts of the organization. That's something I felt when I walked in here. I found that, rather than replacing the team, there's a lot of talent here and it was a matter of getting them aligned and getting them back to the basics.