CCN Employee Spotlight: Rebecca Kennis, IT Director
Rebecca Kennis first joined Care Compass Network (CCN) in 2015 as the Compliance Officer. She always knew she wanted to be part of the CCN IT team. “At first, we didn’t have an IT department but within nine months, there were eventually two of us, followed by a network security administrator,” Rebecca recalled. “Shortly after that, we started implementing programs and needed more people.”
Rebecca’s team now consists of eight members who work alongside fellow CCN colleagues to help make these systems work. They know that communication is key to their success and utilize the relationships already established through the CCN Partner Relations team. Of the eight team members, one individual oversees Care Management, someone else handles Population Health, another is focused on telehealth, and the others work on educating partners on the process and significance of data sharing. Each member of the IT team has a specific area of expertise to add to the program.
Today, Rebecca guides program managers in not only typical internal IT work but also in projects supporting partners within the Care Compass Network. Rebecca and her team help ensure that partners have appropriate Electronic Health Record (EHR) tools to collect data about patients so that information can be appropriately shared with other providers caring for the same patients. In the process of implementing these tools, they also make sure that all information sharing platforms are HIPAA-compliant and have security and privacy protections.
Rebecca is always keeping the big picture in focus. “My role involves making sure that each organization has what they need to take care of their population and then share information across the region, raising awareness of what other organizations are doing,” she explained. This sharing of information extends beyond the clinical insights to social determinants of health as well. The tools being used to assist with this goal are referred to as Population Health Management and Care Management Platforms.
In order to begin using these tools, Rebecca’s team members at CCN schedule a series of meetings to help interested partner organizations fully grasp the purpose behind the process, especially when it comes to sharing data. “Because our partners are very good stewards of their patient information, we take time to demonstrate clearly how all information is kept secure and accessed by the right people appropriately,” Rebecca assures. “It’s important to all of us that they understand the big picture and how the data sharing works.” Once the representative from the partner organization has an understanding of the process, they go back to their compliance officer, security officer, and executive team to report that the systems are safe and secure. “We understand that this is still a relatively new concept,” she further explains. “We are encouraging a shift in thinking from my patients to our patients”
To date there are a total of 53 CCN partners committed to using or sharing data into the Care Management System. These organizations will be simultaneously collecting data that’s shared with other partners resulting in an increased line of sight into their shared clients’ care plans and social determinants of health needs and contributing to better informed analytics for the region as a whole. 57 partners are sharing data to the Population Health Management Platform and 12 are live and using the platform to track their metrics.
“It’s very exciting to see these tools in action, recognizing the key role they play in shifting how Healthcare is being administered,” remarked Rebecca. “We’re gradually moving from a competitive nature to one that is much more collaborative.”
Rebecca and her team have made significant progress with data security in the short amount of time that CCN has been in existence. They are on the cusp of getting HITRUST certified. “This was no small feat,” Rebecca explained. “We needed to be certified by the state first and were the fourth or fifth PPS to be approved. Not all organizations have reached this status. We take security very, very seriously. Our partners trust us with this information and we have made this a top priority for our team.” Rebecca shared that even after they have secured the certification, they will continue to mature the security program, including extended monitoring and ensuring that both internal and external auditing is happening on a regular basis.
While Rebecca’s leadership has had a significant impact within the 9-county region, her influence has also been felt at the state level. She is the current Chair of the Performing Provider System (PPS) CIO Leadership Group for all 25 PPS organizations in New York. The group meets monthly and originally gathered as a means for PPS IT leaders to meet with the Department of Health (DOH) to understand the security requirements to receive Medicaid confidential data (MCD). It has since evolved and also offers an opportunity for the PPS IT teams to collaborate and learn from each other. It provides a structured communication channel between the collective group and the Department of Health regarding common questions and issues, such as privacy and security requirements for sharing MCD with partners and DOH metric calculations.
Rebecca received her Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and completed her Masters of Healthcare Administrations in Informatics. She has worked in Healthcare IT for almost 30 years and served as the Director of Analytics and Data Engineering at HealthLinkNY, as Health Information Systems Manager at Cayuga Medical Associates, and Systems Analyst at United Health Services Hospitals before joining the team at Care Compass Network.