We are thrilled to have you joining the CEO panel at AIMed’s Global Summit. What are you most looking forward to about the session – and the event as a whole? 

I’m most looking forward to learning from others, including current initiatives and how they are moving their organizational mindset ahead regarding the benefits and applications of AI in healthcare.

Your team attended our last live Summit back in 2019. What has the center’s AI journey looked like since then? 

We’ve moved ahead to leverage technology for improved consumer and team member experience including:

  • Implementing Gozio wayfinding and “Baptist Access” app to help patients find physicians, schedule appointments and navigate with turn by turn directions on our campuses
  • Implementing LeanTaas’ iQueue for ORs at all campuses, which is driving improved OR utilization and throughput using predictive analytics for managing block and open time needs
  • Piloting Jvion for identifying patients who would benefit from palliative care
  • PREPARING FOR EPIC TRANSITION, our new platform for system integration of information!

How have you managed perceptions around trust of artificial intelligence – both within the hospital and with patients? 

The first step to building trust in any relationship is communication, transparent, consistent, communication even more so when the message is not good news.  Communication is a two-way street.  It’s not just sharing the message, it’s also about getting feedback and incorporating ideas and confirming the impact of changes, including whether it was successful or not.  Creating a continuous learning environment is critical for expanding our culture to value innovations or advances to how we do our work.  We learn from every experiment, whether that’s the ultimate solution or not.

You have garnered numerous accolades for your outstanding leadership. How would you describe your approach to leading a large hospital through ongoing digital transformation? 

Having our organization be the best place for care AND the best place to work is my goal.  Digital transformation will help us get there.  So, we ask new team members to share what they’ve seen work elsewhere.  We invite teams to pilot new ideas to help us improve care processes and the work environment.  And we’ve become proficient at spreading successful initiatives across our 6 acute care hospitals to ensure we are all moving together in process improvement.

I’m reminded of a pilot at our South campus for utilizing centralized video monitoring as a means to decrease in person sitter usage while increasing services to patients who could benefit from fall and/or behavioral health monitoring.  The pilot was so successful, we’ve created a System department to service all hospitals to benefit from the trial and error of one.  We celebrate that, and recognize the teams who trust each other to act on their behalf.

You are, without question, a role model for African American women in executive roles. What steps do you feel the healthcare sector needs to take in order to diversify its leadership? 

We are excellent problem solvers for our patients, our teams and our communities.  The first step is acknowledging that not having a leadership team that reflects our workforce and the communities we serve is a problem.  The next steps might include evaluating your leadership representation data compared to industry standards, adding Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) graduates to your recruitment pipeline, supporting professional associations like the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE), dedicated to the development of underrepresented leaders in the field, finding an early careerist that has a different background than you to mentor for promotion into the C-Suite, sponsoring an underrepresented leader to take on a high profile assignment, and hiring highly qualified minorities to serve on your leadership team.  Intentionality and perseverance is required to achieve diversity and inclusion of leadership in healthcare, and in every industry.

Who’s been the biggest influence on your career?  

There have been so many leaders along the way who have provided boundary expanding experiences, opened doors, gave me opportunities, and took risks on me.  I’m proud to be an amalgamation of the best mentoring and sponsorship a leader could have.  I’m grateful to each of those who have and continue to play a part in my journey.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? 

Value the lessons in every experience.  Even setbacks are setups for your future.


Nicole Thomas, FACHE, is hospital president of Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville, responsible for the operational and strategic direction of the largest hospital in the health system. Thomas joined Baptist Health in 2011 and in 2016 was named Baptist Medical Center South’s president, becoming the first female and first African American to lead a hospital in Baptist Health’s history.

Nicole is a keynote speaker at AIMed’s Global Summit taking place in San Francisco from 24 to 26 May, 2022. Book your place now to join her!