Earlier this year, LifeCare welcomed Chris Tyler as its Chief Information Officer. The Pulse caught up with him to find out more about him, his plans for technology at LifeCare, and some information security tips we can all use.
What did you want to be as a kid and how did you ultimately choose your career/job?
As a kid and even through my senior year of high school I had always planned on being a pilot. My dad, who I lost at the age of 6, was a pilot and I had always planned on following in his footsteps. My senior year in high school I enrolled in delayed enlistment for the Air Force and didn’t even consider college as an option as I knew I was going to fly. Those aspirations came to a screeching halt when I went in for the military physical and noticed a note on my form that read, “No Altitude Jobs – ears do not adjust to changes in air pressure.” With only a couple of months of school left, I quickly made two college visits. By visits, I mean, driving through the campus of The University of Texas and Texas A&M University. Austin was the first stop and it was difficult to tell where the city ended and the college began. When I drove through College Station and entered the campus, I was met with a golf course, the polo fields and oak trees. It was an easy choice for me as an avid outdoorsman. I was College Station bound, but really had no idea what to choose as a major. I honestly put very little thought into it. I knew that computers were starting to become more prevalent and I had taught myself how to write code in “Basic” the year prior. At the age of 15, I wrote a simple program and submitted it to a company looking for ideas on software that sent me a check for $100 for the IP rights to the program. Clearly I was rich and this was my calling outside of flying. Four (maybe five) years later, I graduated from the College of Engineering with a Computer Science degree and the rest is history!
What is a typical workday like for you?
Since I’m only in my third month with LifeCare, I’m not sure I’ve settled into a typical workday just yet! For the first 90 days I have been very much in detective mode working to analyze our strengths and opportunities as a technology organization and create a strategy for how we can transform our delivery to best enable the goals of the company and the patients we serve.
What is the biggest challenge of your work?
I think the biggest challenge with any CIO role is to consistently connect the entire IS team with the business strategy that the company is trying to achieve. Every person on the team plays an important role in operating our business and enabling our strategy. It’s very easy for technology teams to become isolated from the business and stay in the mire of day-to-day technical issues and lose sense of our collective purpose in delivering patient-centered, high quality care to the patients and communities in which we operate.
What do you like most about working at LifeCare so far?
Without a doubt, the best thing about working at LifeCare is the people. From my first interactions in the recruiting process to what quickly became complex decision making situations across the company, the people at LifeCare have been incredibly professional, extremely knowledgeable and a sincere pleasure to work with.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
Avoid technology and decision making at all costs! On a recent work trip, Frank Battafarano and I were the only two self-proclaimed “Neanderthals” that still went to the ticket kiosk for our paper tickets at the airport. Our fellow colleagues had no issue pointing out the irony in seeing their technology leader get a paper ticket, but I was in good company. Those paper tickets make great bookmarks for books on the plane as well. With so much of my life spent using, studying and making decisions about technology, I really try to disconnect from it while not in the office and enjoy spending time with my family and in the outdoors.
Tell us about your family.
I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart, Valerie, for 22 years and have a 17-year-old daughter, Grace, and a 15-year-old son, Harrison. We have a 12-year-old white lab, Duke, and recently made a rash decision to inject some chaos into our lives by adopting a Boxer puppy, who was already appropriately named Buster. Grace is a local country artist who performs at venues around town such as Lava Cantina and Love & War in Texas. She will be going to college in Nashville next year at Belmont University. Harrison is learning to drive and plays golf for his high school team. I’m overly competitive and he’s yet to beat me, although I see that day coming very soon and am secretly happy about it.
What’s one thing most people might not know about you?
In the early 2000s I co-hosted a TV show on the Outdoor Channel. For a couple of years if I went into any hunting, fishing or feed store in the greater Birmingham, Alabama area there was always someone who thought I looked vaguely familiar. That kind of celebrity status just wasn’t for me.
How do you strive to live our values: OWN IT, RESPECT IT, PERSONALIZE IT, BLUR IT, and CREATE IT?
One of the early aspects that attracted me to LifeCare was this list of published values. I spent time talking through them with Karen [Javine, VP of Human Resources] in the interview process and was impressed with how deliberately and purposefully they were created. I’ve seen company values that could really be applied to any company, but love that LifeCare spent time really thinking through the values that were most meaningful to us as a company. While they are all equally important, the couple that stood out to me were around Own it and Blur it. In a very geographically diverse company such as ours with matrix organizations, effective delivery relies on a culture that embodies personal accountability (Own it) without looking for scapegoats or excuses because of dependencies on other teams or individuals (Blur it). Let’s align on goals and then go make them happen!
What are your top 3 information security tips for associates?
- Know that you are a TARGET
You work in health care and have access to Protected Health Information (PHI), which is exponentially more valuable on the black market than credit card data.
- Because you’re a target, learn to recognize phishing attempts
A phishing attempt that cyber criminals often try is creating emails that look like a legitimate communication. They often come camouflaged as something an employee might be expecting, like a password reset email, a notice from HR, or a shipping confirmation.
- Implement strong password management techniques
Practice good password management. Use a strong mix of characters, and don’t use the same password for multiple sites. Don’t share your password with others, ever. Not even the help desk.
How do you see technology at LifeCare advancing over the next few years?
Technology-enabled clinical transformation is what excites me the most about LifeCare and the opportunities we have in front of us to continue providing high quality patient-centered care. Digitizing the patient care record, data-driven clinical decision support and enabling patient data interoperability for seamless referrals and a more comprehensive clinical record are all on the horizon for us and the patients we care for. These technical capabilities are the cornerstone to LifeCare’s technology strategy and our ability to continue taking advantage of emerging technologies as they arise in the market.