Business as (un)usual: Security, continuity, and the COVID-19 response

Heading up Enterprise IT and Security at a leading medical coding company is a tremendous responsibility on a good day. So what happens when a pandemic strikes? Discover the ins and outs of going remote – fast.
Business Continuity

Lori Kevin started the year in a new role leading both Enterprise IT and Security at IMO. However, as the coronavirus crisis grew, so too did her position. Lori now serves as IMO’s Business Continuity Captain, responsible for ensuring more than 250 employees can work remotely to support our customer base, which includes critical health systems on the front lines of this pandemic. We talked with Lori about the transition to a remote workforce, easing employees’ concerns, and how sharing comfort food recipes is helping people stay connected.

What were the most important priorities for you as the coronavirus spread and it was clear that business as usual would be put on hold?

LK: We quickly determined we needed a dedicated team to support all of the moving parts required to shift to remote working. I partnered with Charlie Judy, Chief People Officer and Andrew Kanter, MD, Chief Medical Officer to create the IMO Business Continuity team. Our priorities were first and foremost to communicate our plan and keep IMO teams informed, not only about best practices to take care of themselves and their loved ones, but about the steps we were taking to support this new remote work environment. Our priorities were and continue to be:

  • Taking care of and supporting our people;
  • Setting up employees for success while working remotely;
  • Ensuring continuity for client needs; and
  • Ensuring employees have easy access to relevant information.

What were your biggest concerns about transitioning the IMO team to remote?

LK: Given the clinical terminology content that IMO delivers for healthcare providers across the globe, it was crucial that we create a seamless process to help our employees do their important work from home. For many team members, working remotely and without the creature comforts of dual monitors and face-to-face interactions was daunting. We wanted to ensure that employees had ways to connect with their team members and the IMO community in a manner that still had the same familiarity of being on site. By doing so, we could continue to support the healthcare community at a time when they need us the most. 

What about security overall? With more people working remotely and the use of new tools, what has been your approach?

LK: Security is always a significant consideration, but even more so as we moved away from the secure IMO networks within our facilities. We directed employees to relevant security policies and instructions for key tools (such as connecting to VPN and the use of video conferencing applications) so they were aware of best practices the minute they logged on remotely. In addition, we continue to share information and awareness of potential phishing attacks and reminders of ways to work securely while remote. Personally, I participate in regular calls with peers in senior security and IT positions at other organizations to share information and best practices.

What steps have you taken to help employees navigate the transition?

Communication is key. First, we met with our executive and management leadership to provide them with information to be shared with their teams. It was and continues to be critical to enable our managers as the first line of defense for questions and awareness. To that end, we convene a weekly status call to share information and raise issues, and we hold open forums with smaller groups of leaders to check in and make sure the Business Continuity team is providing the support the organization needs.

One area we are prioritizing is recognizing that some of our people are in unique home situations making this time even more challenging. We have several employees living alone, trying to manage e-learning for the first time with multiple children, caring for sick family members, living with a loved one who is a doctor, nurse, or first responder on the front lines. We are working directly with managers to help them and their teams to find ways to check in on these individuals to ensure they feel supported.

What specifically is IMO doing to maintain its culture and create opportunities for employees to connect with their colleagues remotely?

Early on we recognized it was important that our people not only feel supported in their work, but also in maintaining the connections that come from interactions at the office. We built a dedicated Microsoft Teams channel to provide a one-stop-shop for real time updates, affectionately named IMO AWEsome (Adjusted Work Environment). Since its creation a few weeks ago, we have added more channels dedicated to remote work best practices, our four-legged “co-workers,” and a place to share favorite recipes.

As expected, our amazing workforce has more than risen to the occasion under this new normal. They are continuing to find creative and fun ways to foster a sense of community while remote, including virtual competitions via Teams, mindfulness sessions with our Chief Medical Officer, and the first ever IMO Talent Show which featured culinary skills, Irish dance, illusions/magic and some amazing voice and piano talent.

What are you doing to decompress during these interesting times?

As a family, we are taking advantage of having dinner together each night and we’ve built a number of LEGO sets. I’m also working on a latch hook (it’s a purple unicorn), but my new obsession is gem art – essentially paint-by-numbers but with “diamonds.”

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