Joe Wivoda, MS, CHTS-IM, is the chief information officer at the National Rural Health Resource Center and health IT consultant with Rural Health Innovations in Duluth, Minn. He is also the co-chair of the HIMSS Rural Health IT Community.
Wivoda has been working in information technology since 1990 and with health IT since 1993. He has served as IT manager, director of IT, and CIO at several hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare organizations. He has also assisted health IT vendors with business planning and product improvement. Wivoda has provided leadership and consulting for several health information exchanges (HIE) nationwide, as well as health IT selection, implementation, and improvement consulting to healthcare organizations.
In addition to his healthcare experience, Wivoda has worked in several other industries, including manufacturing, engineering, education, and legal. His expertise is in IT leadership, strategy, service delivery, and the process of innovation. His work with regional extension centers includes meaningful use assessments; readiness assessments; workflow analysis and redesign; project management; quality reporting; and tool design. Wivoda also provides technical assistance to 41 Rural Health IT Network Development grantees nationwide.
HIMSS: How did you become involved with HIMSS?
Wivoda: I have been a HIMSS member since 2001. I feel it is important to be involved in HIMSS, since they give health IT professionals and opportunity to learn and share their experiences with each other, as well as policy makers.
HIMSS: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your involvement with HIMSS?
Wivoda: Being able to share some of the Rural Health IT Network Development grantees’ best practices at the HIMSS13.
HIMSS: What do you hope to achieve as the co-chair of the Rural Health IT Community?
Wivoda: We are really excited to grow this community. We would like to make it a place to share best practices and solutions that can address obstacles in rural health IT today. Rural healthcare organizations have always been good at learning from each other, and we see this community as a conduit for learning across the continuum of care.
HIMSS: What are some of the unique challenges that providers in a rural setting face?
Wivoda: Limited health IT staffing, multiple job roles for staff, and limited broadband choices are some of the major challenges rural facilities face. There are also advantages, such as agility and proximity to the patients, that larger, more urban, facilities can’t do. Almost every patient who walks into a critical access hospital is a relative, friend, or neighbor of some of the staff members at the hospital.
HIMSS: What benefits do you believe members gain from joining this group?
Wivoda: Members will be able to not only hear what is happening at other facilities, or even different settings of care, but they also will be able to influence the direction of community as well. We intend to survey the members periodically to determine their needs and interests, as well as seek out members for presenting their best practices too.
HIMSS: What advice would you give professionals just entering the healthcare or IT field?
Wivoda: Learn the business of healthcare, both current and future. Health reform will dramatically change how healthcare is delivered and reimbursed, and health IT is critical to successfully implementing accountable care organizations (ACOs), patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs), population health, care coordination, and a host of other health reform models. Learn how health IT can support health reform.