Xavier Magazine

Profile: Mike Hibbard

Mike Hibbard
Master of Health Services Administration, 2008
Chief Information Officer, Mercy Health Partners

A Degree with an Edge | As an RN with an MBA degree, as well as 11 years spent caring for patients in the emergency room and in critical care, Hibbard thought he was ready to advance to the highest levels of hospital information services. But his boss at Mercy Health Partners, Yousuf Ahmad, had an MHSA from Xavier and thought the degree would help Hibbard, too. “Dr. Ahmad challenged me that to advance I needed to know the ‘business of health care,’ and the best place to accomplish this was with an MHSA from Xavier,” Hibbard says. “As expected, he was right.”

Eliminating Errors | About 98,000 people die every year from preventable medical errors that include giving the wrong drug, the wrong dose or administering a drug the wrong way. Hibbard’s division oversees efforts to combat such errors with tools like AdminRx, which assigns bar codes to all patients and prescription medicine. “You scan the patient and scan the drug, and it looks to see if this is the right patient, the right medicine, the right dose, the right time and the right route,” he says. “Systems like this help us to avoid any potential errors. There may be a good reason for administering the drug, but it at least asks you to stop and make sure that everything’s correct, and that helps reduce errors.”

Techy Tools | Other tools include MercyMD Advantage, which allows doctors to call up test and lab results from anywhere via their Blackberry. “A physician with a very complex case who’s on vacation or home late at night can look at results and call their colleagues to decide on treatment plans. It protects the work-life balance of that physician, which is huge.”
Reducing Costs | Hibbard also sees technology as a way to reduce redundant medical tests, which would cut down on health-care costs. “If we could drive out redundancy in testing, that could result in serious savings,” he says. “Focusing more on proper procedure is a difficult discussion to have, but it’s worth having.”

Bridging the Divide | From his earliest nursing days, Hibbard had an affinity for technology and worked in nursing telemetry, overseeing the machines that monitor vital signs and other patient benchmarks. One day a supervisor in information systems remarked, “We have enough technical folks but not enough clinical folks. Have you ever thought of joining us?” The divide between technical and clinical continues today, and it’s something Hibbard works hard to bridge. “It’s very easy from an IT perspective to think that we’re in manufacturing or something, especially when the technical people are often in a different building. But none of this is about IT. It’s truly about patient care, and if we’re not doing that, we shouldn’t even be in the business.”

Techy Tours | To drive home the point, new IT employees take “Healthcare 101” tours of the hospital wards to see firsthand the work they’ll be supporting. And each of the nine Clinical Informatics staffers has a home hospital, where they spend about two days a week making rounds and checking in with physicians and nurses. Others in the 100-person department Hibbard oversees work on business office systems, hospital registration, billing, wireless networks and other systems needed to keep the hospital up and running. “We’ve got to keep everyone centered on the patients,” Hibbard says, “even in these days of tight capital, which force us to be more creative, because that’s why we’re in these positions.”

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