Inside CHIME: Member Profile – Robin Sarkar: Optimizing Health IT
|6.23.16 by Matthew Weinstock
Director of Communications and Public Relations, CHIME
Being relatively new to healthcare hasn’t stopped Robin Sarkar from moving quickly to build strong alliances with clinical leaders and promote health IT adoption.
It may not sound like a big deal, but physicians at a Lakeland Health clinic have regained their lunch hour. In part, they can thank the Lakeland Health ConnectIT team and Robin Sarkar, CIO of the St. Joseph, MI-based health system. Sarkar instituted an initiative to not only study how clinicians are using the health IT system, but help them to become more efficient end users.
“We sit with clinicians and watch their workflow,” Sarkar says. “We work with them to find efficiencies and ways to do their work quicker and better. We had a program called ‘One Less Click,’ which may sound superficial, but imagine a primary care physician who can cut multiple clicks out of their day. It gives them back time.”
They are not only studying time spent in the electronic health record, but are also looking across the entire ecosystem to see where technology can enable more efficiency and where workflows can be modified.
The goal of making clinicians more meaningful users of health IT is part of a broader roadmap that’s been laid out by the leadership team at Lakeland Health. Sarkar, who joined the health system in early 2014 after years in the for-profit business sector, including a stints with Whirlpool and Bank of America, leads an EHR optimization program along with the chief medical officer.
“We are two in a box,” he says, “trying to integrate the clinical mind and the IT mind as best as possible.”
For this kind of integration to work though, he’s quick to add, it can’t just take place at the leadership level; it needs to happen at the operational level as well with clinicians and IT analysts working side-by-side.
The effort seems to be paying off. In early June, the IT department sent out a note to physicians seeking volunteers to help further explore how IT can be used to improve patient care. The response was “outstanding,” according to Sarkar. Hospitalists, primary care doctors, surgeons all wanted in.
“There’s huge untapped interest in seeing how we can better leverage technology,” he says. “We are also trying to keep it agile. We want to look at how we can be more innovative with physician engagement.”
Being a relative newcomer to healthcare, Sarkar relishes the opportunity to transform care delivery and save lives. It’s brought more purpose to his career, he says.
“The challenges in healthcare are such that none of us can tackle them alone,” he adds. “We have to get in the ship together, hold hands and share best practices. That’s the only way that we will survive.”
Along those lines, CHIME members can learn more about Lakeland Health’s efforts to operationalize its IT strategic plan by downloading Sarkar’s College LIVE event in KnowledgeHub.