First-timer’s Look at Midwest HIMSS Fall Tech Conference

Mike Meyer and Christen Gregory represented SCI at the Midwest HIMSS event.
Mike Meyer and Christen Gregory represented SCI at the Midwest HIMSS event.

Last week I attended my first Midwest HIMSS conference in Chicago, Illinois-  the 2014 Midwest HIMSS Fall Technology Conference.  Being new to the company and to HIMSS conferences, it was a truly eye-opening and educational experience for me. It is neat to see a group of professionals come together from different states, companies and backgrounds all under one roof sharing the latest news and technologies in the healthcare world.  I enjoyed meeting people and networking as well as observing how other companies engaged with people as they came to booths.

Attendees and exhibitors network in the Promenade Ballroom at Midwest HIMSS.

The keynote speakers and breakout sessions were a wealth of knowledge. I was not only able to learn from the speeches but also the Q&A sessions at the end of each of them. Of all the breakout sessions, the session led by Laura McCrary of Kansas Health Information Network was my favorite.  Laura spoke on the future of health information exchange (HIE) and the initiatives the state of Kansas has taken to unite nearly all the hospitals and clinics in the state, so there is a quick, smooth transfer of information and ultimately improved patient care.

Morning sessions and keynote speakers pumped attendees up each day, getting them excited about health IT.
Morning sessions and keynote speakers pumped attendees up each day, getting them excited about health IT.

All in all, I took a lot away from the conference, and I hope to attend more of these conferences in the future and get more plugged into the HIMSS network!

The original House of Blues hosted the conference evening event. Mike and Christen were happy to explore Chicago!

Warm wishes,

Christen Gregory
Stoltenberg Strategic Accounts Manager

Making Magical Memories


It’s hard to believe that just one week ago the Stoltenberg team travelled from all over the country to celebrate the company’s success at the 2014 Stoltenberg Consulting Company Retreat at Disney!

Day 1:

Throughout Thursday afternoon and evening, our staff boarded Disney’s Magical Express from the Orlando International Airport to join together at Disney’s Yacht Club for the weekend. That night, attendees gathered at CEO Sheri Stoltenberg’s Disney Boardwalk Garden Suite for an informal reception to welcome one another with laughs and catching up.


Day 2:

Friday started with a full breakfast spread and Mickey’s waffle station in the Yacht & Beach Club Convention Center. Following breakfast, everyone transitioned over to a full morning of education sessions covering topics including vendor relations and SCI methodologies, business intelligence and data analytics, Stoltenberg’s Help Desk Service Line, the Consultant Development Program, recruiting needs, and marketing/ public relations efforts. Sessions included interactive elements and Q&A portions to better educate consultants and prepare them for the health IT industry’s movement for the next year.


Following an Italian spread for lunch, everyone divided into groups for a team building activity. Led by Disney Institute, the Stoltenberg crew competed in the Incredible Race scavenger hunt competition throughout Epcot, challenging teams with time management, strategic thinking, group communication, and decision making. The activity helped participants learn how to better recognize and utilize the strengths of others and prioritize upholding a supportive, trusting work environment.


After the Incredible Race, retreat attendees decked themselves out in festive costumes for the Stoltenberg costume contest and pictures followed by the special evening event- Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in the Magic Kingdom.


Day 3:

Day 3 opened with a full buffet breakfast in the Convention Center accompanied by the Stoltenberg Employee Appreciation Awards Ceremony. On top of costume contest awards, the ceremony recognized a total of 22 dedicated employees for their service over 5, 10, and 15 years with Stoltenberg Consulting. Congrats to all our deserving honorees!

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Following the award ceremony, attendees explored their Disney Parks of choice for the day, enjoying the souvenirs, rides, food, and sites, even experiencing Epcot’s 2014 Food & Wine Festival. Then, to close the Stoltenberg Disney experience, retreat-goers were whisked via private motor coaches to arrive at the surprise final event- reserved seating at Epcot’s elaborate Party for the Senses. The event was truly astounding with Cirque du Soleil performances, live music, and countless stations with live celebrity chefs and wine pairings. The event was a feast for all the senses, closing with Epcot’s fireworks show!

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Thanks to all Stoltenberg employees who joined us for the magical experience! We’re so happy to have been able to celebrate your hard work!

To see more pictures from #SCIDisney14, visit the Facebook photo album.

Tips to Conquer Career Fairs

After our team’s recent participation at the Ohio Northern University Fall Career Fair, we felt we’d share some tips for college students and young professionals preparing for the often-overwhelming career fair.

Career fairs are an incredible opportunity to test you interpersonal skills, as you present yourself as a marketable professional. While for many first-timers, career fairs act as practice for the real world, for many others, career fair interactions lead to actual interview and job offers. As a consulting firm, we are always looking for talented new hires, utilizing college career fairs to recruit for our Consultant Development Program. A great majority of our Consultant I’s had their first interactions with our team at collegiate career fairs, so never underestimate the significance of a career fair conversation!


We offer the following tips for career fair attendees:

Dress professionally, yet comfortably
Yes, as business professionals, we want to see you put together and polished. However, it’s distracting when an applicant is so uncomfortable in his or her attire that he or she pulls and tugs at clothing or staggers walking in heels. Make sure you try on your business attire before the career fair or interview to see what needs adjustments.

Never talk badly about others
This is a big one in my book. Yes, applicants can get comfortable in conversation discussing past internships or coursework, but never get so comfortable that you’re putting down others amidst discussion. Negativity can be contagious in the workplace, and no potential employer wants a hire who will bring others down, especially during stressful times. If discussing your strengths requires you talking badly about others, perhaps you need to reevaluate your strong suits.

Avoid resume fluff
Within seconds, a recruiter can differentiate fluff from relevant content on a resume, so why waste time? Space is precious on a resume, so fill it with worthwhile examples of your career-related experience with actionable results. Don’t list obvious expertise, like Microsoft Word. That should be a given for any business professional.

Research the company ahead of time
There’s always a bit of a let down when an applicant stop by a company’s booth, only to answer “not really” when asked if they know anything about the prospective company. Do your homework! Most college career fairs list what positions or majors companies are targeting, so look through that list, narrow down your options, and research them. By knowing nothing about a company, right off the bat, you should that you do not take initiative.

Make eye contact!
Sure, meeting a recruiter for the first time can be nerve-racking, but don’t let your nerves take over your body language. Hold strong, confident posture and maintain eye contact while both you and the recruiter speak. Career fairs cram hundreds of companies into one space for applicants, causing distractions. Don’t let the buzz around you steal your attention. Poor eye contact conveys disinterest and insincerity.

Follow up
At career fairs, employers often see countless job seekers in a short window of time, adding resume on top of resume to a pile. While we file all resumes and take notes on candidates, do yourself a favor and set yourself apart from others with a follow up. Whether it is a LinkedIn message and invite, email, or even better- a handwritten note, show us you’re truly interested. You’d be surprised how far a small act of kindness can take you.

Jacquelyn Smith’s March 2014 article for Business Insider shares some more helpful tips for young job seekers, as well. Check out

Good luck!

-Shana Tachikawa

Highlights from Siemens Innovations ’14


Year after year, Siemens Innovations continues to be a great experience for the Stoltenberg Consulting team! This year’s event proved to be yet another productive and insightful opportunity for Stoltenberg and Siemens, as we further reinforced our partnership – an effective pairing of HIT solutions and expertise – in the journey towards an improved healthcare industry, for both patients and providers.


John Glaser, CEO, Siemens, gave a wonderful presentation during the opening session. With the groundbreaking news of Cerner acquiring the company only having been released a few days prior, the conference allowed Siemens to set the stage for the future and discuss what was to come. We are very excited to continue working with these organizations moving forward.


The party hosted by SCI was also a success! It was a great night of engaging and networking with our team members, partners and industry colleagues – all while having an old-fashioned good time.


It was an extremely memorable night, as many of the Innovations attendees joined us for the event and enjoyed having a little fun in between the busy days at the conference.

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We were incredibly happy with the party and the overall turnout. Thanks to everyone that attended our event and we hope you join us for similar nights in the future!


All in all, it was another successful Siemens Innovations. Hope to see you again next year!

Consultant Development Program Offers 25% Cost Savings

At Stoltenberg Consulting, we’re excited to celebrate the growth of our unique health IT education initiative the Consultant Development Program. To date, 13 consultants have graduated from the program designed to provide hospitals with first-time certified consultants to alleviate the HIT staffing shortage plaguing the industry. The program continues to deliver cost-effective results to hospital customers with over 25 percent increase in cost savings on IT projects.

“I started this program with minimal experience, but by the end, I had gained certain insights in health IT I may have otherwise only learned through multiple years in the industry,” a recent program graduate said. “From formal vendor training for multiple certifications, to my time taking calls for a university healthcare system with the Stoltenberg Help Desk Service Line, the program greatly prepared me for working and genuinely helping end-users.”

Consultant Development Program graduates gained considerable experience through direct involvement in implementation and optimization projects in hospitals around the country, allowing them to establish expertise in clinical, ambulatory, document management and financial areas. Overall, the Consultant I’s spent more than 2,000 hours in training for projects, nearly 9,000 hours on projects and over 15,000 hours serving the help desk service line from Stoltenberg, over the two-year program.

Previous graduates of the Consultant Development Program have become fully active team members, and in some cases, team leads on IT projects within hospitals across the country. Mentoring provided by senior consultants have allowed the Consultant I’s to far exceed expectations normally set for young HIT professionals.

To learn more about the Consultant Development Program, please click here or visit

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Embracing Proposed MU Revisions

Recently, the CMS and ONC announced a proposed rule that would provide additional flexibility to healthcare organizations and facilitate their continued participation in the Meaningful Use program in 2014. Before sharing our thoughts, let’s focus on what led to these proposed revisions.

In something of a domino effect, delays in the certification of EHR products to 2014 Edition CEHRT have delayed the installations and implementations of updated EHRs for provider organizations. Without the certification, organizations cannot successfully attest to meaningful use in 2014. So, the proposed changes announced by the CMS and ONC suggest providing healthcare organizations the option to participate in the Meaningful Use program by either utilizing the 2011 Edition CEHRT standards, if their EHR does not yet meet the 2014 Edition CEHRT standards, or using a combination of the standards. Come 2015, however, all reporting would still be required to use the 2014 Edition CEHRT.

Another component of the proposed rule is the extension of Stage 2 Meaningful Use through 2016 and the postponement of initiating Stage 3 to 2017, which was included in an effort to encourage the continued adoption of CEHRT by healthcare organizations.

Now, let’s take a step back to our HIMSS14 survey, where 70% of respondents indicated that their organizations had not yet maximized the full potential of Meaningful Use. Shane Pilcher, vice president here at Stoltenberg Consulting, has emphasized time and again that Meaningful Use is a marathon – not a sprint. The reason healthcare organizations that have achieved Meaningful Use are unable to see its full potential is the same reason other organizations struggle to successfully attest: everyone is in the “sprint” mentality.

The changes proposed by the CMS and ONC are not merely offering flexibility – they are giving providers a chance to run the marathon that is Meaningful Use. In the grand scheme of things, we have to look past rules, programs, successes and failures that tend to force healthcare providers into the “sprint” mentality of getting things done to meet requirements, receive incentives and avoid penalties. To push the industry forward as a whole, we have to refocus our perspective on the end goal, which is improving the healthcare system. And if we’d like to arrive at this objective, we need all healthcare organizations, in their varying stages of Meaningful Use, to build a momentum of progress in unison.

As the saying goes, progress is progress, no matter how small. The proposed revisions to Meaningful Use would support such sentiments by allowing all healthcare organizations to maintain their progress in deploying and optimizing their technologies. The successful adoption of EHRs will lay the bricks crucial to building a strong foundation for the improvement of healthcare, which is why a culture of encouragement must be fostered around it for all providers. Clinging to the rigidity of rules and agendas will lead to providers dropping out of the Meaningful Use program and leave them hindered in the journey to deliver better care.

So, the changes proposed by the CMS and ONC should be embraced and implemented – because how successful we are in improving healthcare cannot be measured in terms of those who meet the requirements of a program and those who don’t. It must be measured by the cumulative progress towards the greater goal, by all participants. And at the end of the day, that will be the biggest contributing factor in allowing healthcare organizations and professionals to deliver a new, improved healthcare system.

Thank you,


Big Data Here and Now

As our blog series comes to an end, we arrive at another topic dominating many discussions in the health IT world: big data. In our HIMSS14 survey, we asked: Why is big data viewed as something in the distant future, especially if it’s considered the next big thing?

Responses noted that big data is too intimidating (7%), the tools and strategies to address big data aren’t available yet (22%) and other HIT initiatives such as ICD-10 or Stage 3 MU are taking precedence over big data (31%), while the majority of respondents said most organizations don’t know what to do with all their data (40%). Because these responses are all interconnected in various ways, let’s address each one.


“Most organizations don’t know what to do with all their data.”

The initial phase of data analytics is data collection. What most organizations have unfortunately lost sight of are the keywords here: initial phase. Organizations can’t collect data for the sake of collecting data, they must collect data as part of a greater, long-term plan, which must always remain in perspective. So, it comes as no surprise that many organizations may have plenty of data but zero direction as to how to use it all. For data collection to be effective, it must be performed with the future applicability of that information in mind.

Organizations are just now arriving at the fact that they are not able to utilize much of the data they have been collecting for the few years since EHR implementations began. In an effort to ease the transition into EHRs for clinicians and expedite adoption without resistance, the data entry methods were adjusted to offer a free text option on top of existing answer choices. Unfortunately, enabling clinicians to input their own answers provided a convenience that wound up compromising the applicability of the information being collected. The result? The vast majority of current healthcare data is unstructured and unusable.

To prevent similar scenarios 5-10 years from now, we have to better establish the data collection process. For big data success, organizations must first work towards obtaining smart healthcare data. Smart healthcare data is the intermediate phase on the path to big data and organizations can successfully make their data ‘smart’ by focusing on the type of data that they are collecting, the volume of the data and its validity. The results from any analysis of data will not be meaningful if the data originally collected was not of the right type, right amount or even trustable.

By establishing such best practices in the data collection process, organizations won’t be left with large amounts of data that don’t lend themselves to being analyzed well and have a much better idea of how to utilize their information.

“The right tools and strategies to address big data aren’t available yet.”

It’s true – the processing capacity of today’s systems cannot handle the size or complexity of the data sets that are represented by big data. But if we lost all momentum for innovation whenever the right tools were unavailable, advances in healthcare, or any industry for that matter, would never occur. Pushing forward our technological evolution comes from fully understanding our needs first – both the needs we have now and the needs we will have in the future. Organizations have to create demands for products and solutions that not only answer their present questions but also have the capacity to answer the questions they anticipate having to address years from now.

The future is forever uncertain, but rather than treating the uncertainty as a barrier, organizations should treat it as a basis to develop creative and imaginative roadmaps that are prepared for unexpected scenarios. Working backwards from there will offer the necessary guidance to refine the data collection process for future success.

Although the right tools and strategies for big data are not yet available, developing an idea of our long term objectives with analytics will help make them a reality sooner. Then, with appropriate plans and processes already in place, we can hit the ground running once they have arrived.

“Other HIT initiatives are taking precedence over big data.”

It’s understandable that other initiatives have led to healthcare organizations putting big data on the back burner. They are often being pulled in several directions by multiple projects while having to work with increasingly limited financial and staff resources. So naturally, anything that appears to be in the distant future receives little to no time or attention, let alone resources.

The mistake here is that organizations believe big data is in the distant future. I’ve said it in the past: big data is much like looking in your side view mirror – it’s much closer than we think.

Additionally, the healthcare industry is aware that its business practices have to evolve.  After years of treating the business aspect and the care aspect of healthcare separately, we’ve arrived at a time of payment reform, ACOs and value-based purchasing, which demand that healthcare organizations know the cost of the care they provide and how patient outcomes are affected. Data analytics can be utilized by organizations to identify areas where costs can be decreased while delivering better care for patients.

Overall, big data is an initiative that can help organizations drop operational costs, grow profits and maintain or improve patient outcomes. The extra budget such savings create can be applied towards bolstering data analytics programs or helping fund other HIT initiatives. And any initiative that creates avenues to assist other initiatives should receive equal, if not more, attention!


“Big data is too intimidating.”

Read above. Still think so?

Big data isn’t intimidating – it’s an unbelievable opportunity. Through it, we can leverage amazing masses of information and find insights that allow us to do things better than ever in healthcare and achieve organizational success while we’re at it.