Welcome to our latest installment of our interview blog series, where we learn more about how our super staff arrived at Prominence and what motivates them to do great work. Our next interview is with Kristy Zirngible, our Director of Project Management and Data Governance.
Hi Kristy, it’s great to get to catch up with you a little bit! Tell us about your background and what brought you to Prominence.
After spending 10 years in implementation at Epic, I was ready for a new challenge and a reduction in travel. I am now a mom of two (soon to be three!) kiddos, and I really want to be around to celebrate all of life’s little and big moments. After my experiences at Epic, I knew I wanted to stay in the healthcare sector. I sought a job that would further my career by expanding my knowledge and skillset in areas that are so critical to the healthcare industry. After spending years implementing EHRs, it is now time to follow the information life cycle and understand analytics, data flows, data governance and driving action through data. Not only did I want to build my resume with a new and logical move, but I also wanted to work with like-minded individuals that were driven, entrepreneurial and wanted to create instead of repeat what other consulting firms were doing in the industry. I think I found the best match with the bonus of not having to travel every week and dropping off my kids at daycare and picking them up every night. If you can’t tell, I feel like I am living my dream job on a daily basis.
Tell us more about why working in healthcare is important to you – what do you like best about the healthcare space?
Well, I always wanted to be a healthcare provider of some kind and worked through high school and college at a nursing home as a CNA. Realizing in college my skillset leans more towards technology, languages and operational strategy, I quickly gravitated towards technology and support of healthcare providers.
I enjoy the challenges we are faced with on a daily basis are those that impact people and have a chance of improving the health and happiness of patients and effectiveness of care. These challenges also seem more tangible and resonate more than other areas I explored during college, such as working at a chemical manufacturing company and hearing aid manufacturer. But surprisingly enough, my drive to healthcare was as much planned as serendipity. I wanted to find a job where my German major and operational manufacturing management major might be useful, and where working abroad was a possibility. Epic seemed to fit both buckets, but so far, I haven’t used my German, and I didn’t get to work abroad (yet!)
Wow, you’ve had a variety of experiences shape where you are today! Do you feel like any of the education or experiences you’ve had over the years were especially instrumental in preparing you for your role with Prominence?
I have to thank the customers I got to work with while I was at Epic for the best foundation for my work today. They constantly challenged Epic and me to think outside of the box and develop something better. I was lucky enough to work with customers that pushed the envelope on how to reach out to their community or to affiliated physicians with not only software but also with a services package. This experience let me explore so much more than software implementation while at Epic. I was able to work through challenges that were on the cutting edge of healthcare at that time, such as how to build governance structures, how to think through data ownership and access, and how to build processes that are repeatable and supportable. The principles of listening to the customer, being their partner to solve their biggest problems, and constantly looking at how to create a better product or outcome are what I have taken forward to Prominence.
Going back to the variety of skills you bring to the table, can you share a non-technical skill has made you more productive?
The one skill that has made me more efficient at my job is diligently taking notes during calls, gathering next steps and capturing agreed-upon conclusions. I send out these notes immediately after any call to make sure all parties engaged are on the same page and headed in the same direction. Being able to listen and take notes at the same time saves time so I don’t have to spend minutes after the call doing it and miss some of the details and it ensures that we all have documentation to go back to. Notes have saved me more than once in making sure I didn’t forget to complete a task as well as allowed me to reference something two months later to make sure I have the right understanding before speaking to the topic again.
Ok, let’s shift gears a little bit and talk about what makes you excited to come to work in the morning?
You need to understand a couple of things about me before I answer this question. First, I am a goal-oriented person, meaning I love to make lists and cross things off and have a scoreboard that I am working towards each month. That said, I also love to spend my free time making things, whether it is a wooden car with my little boy or painting a new circus picture for my little girl’s room.
When I come to work each day, I like to take the first hour to do housekeeping and goal setting. I tend to this early in the morning, before I get my kids up and to school, before I have any distractions. This helps me see what I can accomplish that day and where I will get to focus my creative thoughts and time. I live for the time/meetings when I get to brainstorm and create new solutions with the other incredibly intelligent people on our team. Luckily that happens throughout the week!
I love asking this question, especially for our folks that primarily work remotely. What do you eat for breakfast?
It’s a tricky question these days! I am about 5 months pregnant, so what I eat right now varies wildly on my cravings. I used to think stories of pregnant women craving pickles and ice cream were crazy and far-fetched. I can now vouch that they are true, although my cravings gravitate more towards California rolls and cherry sour balls. But for breakfast, I try to stick to some fruit and cereal.
Ok, let’s talk about some of the things you work on throughout a typical day. What was a recent challenge you solved as part of your job?
I am working with a customer right now that is trying to quantify the impact of their engagement in a new bundled payment program. They are exploring the data to determine if the efforts they are making in terms of patient communication, interaction, education and partnership with various SNF and VNA entities have an impact on the overall success of the program, meaning reduced hospital returns and reduces lengths of stay. It is exciting to work with a group of people exploring their data for the first time, trying to draw conclusions, tell a story and impact how future care is provided. There are three areas that I love: 1) learning about something new in the industry and how healthcare organizations are responding to it, 2) exploring data and trying to find meaningful and actionable next steps and 3) telling a story with the data in a way that people can quickly and easily understand and interrupt it. In short I get to be creative and design something new while learning something interesting and new.
We made it to the last question of the interview, another fun one – if you could tell your 14-year-old self something, what would it be?
Don’t be scared to go to Germany and be an exchange student. You don’t need to know the language, you can learn it as you go and the Rosetta Stone chapter about how to book a hotel room won’t be useful even though you memorized it. I would advise myself that seeing the world, exploring and having the chance to be independent will shape your future even though you don’t look that far forward yet.