Government // Leadership
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10/14/2011
10:04 AM
Paul Cerrato
Paul Cerrato
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4 Healthcare CIOs Who Stand Out From The Crowd

We're seeking nominations for InformationWeek Healthcare's next CIO 25, our roster of outstanding IT leaders. Here's a brief look at four of 2011's winners.

I've interviewed numerous health IT executives over the past six months, and what has impressed me the most about them is their generosity of spirit. Despite the huge demands on their time and resources, many have gone out of their way to explain their operations and future initiatives to this curious Brooklyn boy.

A case in point is Dan Drawbaugh, CIO at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and one of the CIO 25 executives InformationWeek Healthcare recognized earlier this year. Drawbaugh recently invited me to spend the day at UPMC, where I had the chance to sit down with several of his top IT managers for a roundtable discussion, tour the hospital system's Center for Connected Medicine and wireless Children's Hospital, meet with the chief architect at its technology development center, and see its digitally enhanced Smart Room up close.

That same generosity comes to mind when I think about all that Stephanie Reel, CIO at Johns Hopkins University and Health System, has done to help InformationWeek Healthcare. She and her CMIO, Peter Greene, MD, have gone out of their way to explain the progressive IT projects they've embarked on, including at our recent IT Leadership Forum in New York City.

As I've mentioned in recent columns, Johns Hopkins has been developing ways to relieve clinicians' complaints about alert fatigue. The hospital's alert technologies, tools, and protocols "can identify the fact that someone has seen an alert before for a specific patient and doesn't need to see it again," Reel explained. The hospital also tailors certain alerts to different categories of clinicians with different skill sets. "An experienced cardiologist doesn't need to be alerted about an interaction between Coumadin and aspirin," she said, because it's assumed that a practitioner with this level of experience already knows that fact.

[Which healthcare organizations came out ahead in the InformationWeek 500 competition? See 10 Healthcare IT Innovators: InformationWeek 500.]

Rebecca Armato, executive director of physician and interoperability services at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, Calif., has likewise spent a lot of time helping me understand some of her organization's priorities. What impressed me most about Huntington Memorial's IT operation is the deep dive its professionals do with docs affiliated with the hospital to persuade them to get on board with EMRs. That effort involves taking clinicians through an in-depth analysis and checklist to determine which electronic health record system and vendor is most likely to meet their needs.

One of the CIOs I learned the most from is John Bosco, from North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in New York. During a recent conversation about putting an EHR in place, he made one of those analogies that stays with you a long time, comparing such implementations to a wedding and marriage. You and your fiancee spend months planning a wedding--just as the IT team and clinical staff spend months planning the EHR installment. Then the big day arrives and the system goes live. But IT executives and doctors, just like man and wife, must realize that this is only the beginning of a long-term relationship that involves hard work, compromises, and maturation.

These are only four of the 25 accomplished IT executives recognized in InformationWeek Healthcare's CIO 25 in 2011. We're now looking for nominations for our 2012 list. So take a look at this year's report in order to size up the kinds of men and women we're seeking to celebrate--and send me your nominations at pcerrato@techweb.com.

Don't be bashful about nominating yourself, but try to be objective as well. We're looking for executives leading the healthcare IT revolution: innovators, early adopters, and visionaries.

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