Kristie Etheridge is a seasoned project manager with valuable experience implementing nuanced clinical technologies across a healthcare enterprise. Her lifelong curiosity and inclusive attitude help her drive more efficient and comprehensive results for her customers. Kristie is a great example of the professional services provided by the Mobile Heartbeat team.
How Did You Get Involved in the Healthcare Technology Industry?
I actually started out in healthcare directly out of high school and it’s been a sort of menagerie of different positions since then that have brought me to the IT side of things.
At my last company, which is a large health system, I actually got into project management through leading a specialized education department for the physician enterprise. I started working through a lot of construction projects to improve physician onboarding and workflows there. And with that comes a lot of the information services (IS) pieces— network, telecom, EMR and getting the actual hardware in place and things of that nature.
So, I started working more and more with the IS department at that time, and then I was recruited by them, so I actually became the IS project manager. They were amazing mentors and allowed me to get in there and really dig up some of the details and do a lot of the research, and I fell in love with it.
I completed a lot of major projects there—I just came off of two major tower projects, including a 16-story building that they added on to the existing facility, and we opened six of those floors. Basically, I was responsible for making sure that all of the technology was properly integrated into our current facility.
That was quite a fascinating project. It was very enlightening, and I loved every minute of it.
What Interests You About Project Management?
I’ve actually always been doing project management and really didn’t realize it because it really did not have a term back when I first entered the workforce. So, it wasn’t until I was in grad school and looking into the different components of project management that I realized I’ve been working in that field all this time.
When I was working on the physician enterprise projects and collaborating with the IS team, I found myself leaning more and more toward the IS aspects of the project. I would be the one volunteering for those projects because to me it seemed the IS element was basically the backbone of everything that we do today in the hospital.
What Does Project Management Mean to You?
What I find so great about project management is being able to work with a team—being able to actually see a project through its entire lifecycle. Being able to motivate your team members and being able to actually, you know, pick the minds that are driving the project direction. During the construction projects, I actually created a storyboard to get the team excited, to give them the background and the foundation of what we were doing. Starting the project like that keeps everyone on the same page and makes sure we’re all working toward the same goals.
I like to empower people, and some of my project team members, they’re not used to having someone ask for their professional opinion on a project. I try to bring a more human element to the technology side that can sometimes be overlooked, so being able to encourage and empower the team in that way is meaningful.
How Did Mobile Heartbeat Spark Your Interest?
It’s actually a very interesting story! At my last company, I led a focus group on patient monitoring and our communication capabilities. Every discipline across the hospital was involved and the goal was to find some consensus on a product that could really transform our communication and collaboration workflows within the enterprise.
In the focus group, we did our own research and in the end, we had created a portfolio that we presented to the board and to other stakeholders to move forward with the project. Much of the research we did involved finding out what all of the integration possibilities were and how each communication platform could interact with our existing infrastructure. These are all technologies that we desperately needed to integrate efficiently, and Mobile Heartbeat was the standout in our research.
I became very passionate about it. It was something that I sort of held on to in the back of my mind. And when I started feeling like I was ready for something new in my career, I explored some of our old partners and it came to fruition that Mobile Heartbeat was looking to expand their professional services team. So, that year-long focus group a couple of years ago ended up really changing the course of my career.
What Do You Hope to Bring to the Table at Mobile Heartbeat?
I said this before, but I love to motivate people. Whether it’s my team at Mobile Heartbeat or the customer team I’m working with, I want to really stimulate the great minds working on the projects to make sure every great idea gets voiced. It’s not about making a list of tasks and then assigning those tasks out—it’s about really critically thinking through how we can solve a unique problem or make a cumbersome workflow much smoother and easier.
And that’s what I love. I think my philosophy on that is pretty compatible with the way Mobile Heartbeat approaches project management already. We don’t just go in and say “Okay, we’re going to install this product and walk away.” We assess the situation, we ask the important questions and listen to what the customer thinks, wants and needs. Then, based on all of that information, we build an individualized plan just for them.
To me, that process is notable because—believe me—I’ve done several implementations, and it’s not always like that. Usually, you have to fit your facility’s needs into the vendor’s product rather than the other way around. That, to me, is not how customer service should happen.
But I think the key is this: We’re working for that customer. We’re listening and creating a plan for them rather than the customer having to force a square peg into a round hole. I’ve seen so many facilities try to squeeze what they do into a product rather than the product actually being designed and built for the customer’s specific needs. I’m excited to be part of a company that really emphasizes the customer experience in that way.