Complex career shift ‘keeps it interesting’ for Brown Physicians’ CIO

CHANGE OF DIRECTION: After 30 years performing information technology duties in other sectors, Lisa Blackmon leaped into the health care industry and is now chief information officer at Brown Physicians. 
CHANGE OF DIRECTION: After 30 years performing information technology duties in other sectors, Lisa Blackmon leaped into the health care industry and is now chief information officer at Brown Physicians. 


LISA BLACKMON SAYS time management is one of her strongest skills, and she has needed it since becoming Brown Physicians Inc.’s chief information officer.

That’s because Blackmon has two jobs really. Two years ago, she was hired as director of information technology at University Surgical Associates, one of six member groups of the Brown Physicians organization.

In January, she was appointed as Brown Physicians’ CIO, and is now splitting her time between the two roles.

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Blackmon made the jump to the health care industry after spending 30 years in other sectors, including previously working as director of information technology infrastructure and customer service at Providence-based Textron Inc.

“[Health care] was new to me,” Blackmon said.  “I was looking for a change.”

When she joined University Surgical Associates, she got right to work on developing programs, policies and procedures, focusing on IT security, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliance, data privacy, business continuity and emergency-mode operations.

While she was learning the ins and outs of the health care industry, Blackmon also worked on implementing process-improvement initiatives, tying it to patient engagement, data access and electronic records.

It was a challenge, having to become well-versed on health care terms, technology and the industry’s evolving restrictions.

“IT health care is very different with HIPAA compliance,” Blackmon said. “There are a lot of changes with the regulations and you have to work within those constraints.”

She credited her team with helping her pull off the balancing act between University Surgical Associates and Brown Physicians, but her people skills help, too.

“What impresses me about Lisa is her innate leadership ability,” Tammy Lederer, chief human resources officer at Brown Physicians, said in an email. “She’s smart, approachable, listens and is received well by others.”

A community-based, nonprofit multispecialty practice group, Brown Physicians was founded by faculty affiliated with Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School and has about 1,200 employees and annual revenue of about $7.5 million.

Aside from University Surgical Associates, Brown Physicians’ other member groups are Brown Dermatology, Brown Emergency Medicine, Brown Medicine, Brown Neurology and Brown Urology.

At Brown Physicians, Blackmon is now overseeing the IT operations and implementing shared electronic medical records, launching a referral platform and working to improve the patient experience with technology.

In her role at University Surgical Associates, Blackmon is in charge of managing technology infrastructure, compliance, security and risk management.

Blackmon is not the micromanaging type, instead allowing people to do their jobs and being there when they need help. “I want them to be able to grow and learn,” she said. “They can come back to me when they are stuck.”

Blackmon said she likes having her staff on hand rather than managing people across the country, as she did at Textron.

“She has a great way with people,” Lederer said.

Blackmon grew up in Rhode Island and attended Bryant University in Smithfield. Even when she was traveling for work early in her career, she always stayed close to home.

“We [her first company] did the consulting with a software program,” she said. “I enjoyed traveling for work, but I always had an address here.”

The mother of two elementary- and middle-school students, Blackmon is involved in the local parent-teacher organization. She enjoys gardening and recently started boating.

In college, Blackmon – a 1989 graduate at Bryant, where she later got her master’s degree in business administration – was deciding between a career as an accountant or joining the relatively new field of information technology.

“IT seemed to be more exciting,” she said. “I took a course or two in high school when it was just starting.”

Blackmon found she liked solving problems and mastering new technologies and programs.

“Someone told me you should be updating your resume and taking on new things,” she said. “I am working on my skills, and that keeps it interesting.”

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