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7/2/2009
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CIO Profiles: Chad A. Eckes, CIO Of Cancer Treatment Centers Of America

This CIO realized his direction for the rest of his career, digitizing hospital records, after his mother was severely burned.

Career Track



Chad A. Eckes, CIO, Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Chad A. Eckes
CIO, Cancer Treatment Centers of America
How long at current company: 3-1/2 years

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: We completed an implementation for electronic medical records across multiple times zones and multiple hospitals, with the aim of shutting down 18 legacy systems and activating 25 modules of Eclipsys. The project was completed ahead of schedule, underbudget, and with much more functionality than originally committed to.

Most important career influencer: My mother was severely burned when a pressure cooker exploded. When I arrived at the hospital, Mom was screaming from the pain. She hadn't been given pain medication because the hospital couldn't find her medical records to check for allergies. At the time, I was working on the implementation of an "all-digital" hospital. I looked at Dad and said, "If she'd been in my hospital, we could have had this information in 15 seconds." In that moment, I realized my direction for the rest of my career. Most importantly, Mom recovered successfully.

On The Job


Size of IT team: 84, plus an outsourced help desk of 27 people

Top initiatives:

  • Electronic health record activation and adoption.
  • Launch of the nation's first all-digital cancer hospital in Goodyear, Ariz. It has a fully electronic health record and all systems are integrated into the core EHR.
  • A new ERP-financial system from Lawson is being implemented this fall.

How I measure IT effectiveness: Factors include improvement of patient care and safety as a result of IT systems; increased efficiency of clinical processes; and internal customer satisfaction, including the patient and those caring for the patient.

Vision


Advice for future CIOs: Enforce a belief system within your IT culture that aligns all actions and decisions with patient value. We can influence patient care positively or negatively to the extent of life or death.

The next big thing for my industry: I see two critical priorities in front of healthcare IT. First, quality outcomes measures. After electronic health records are in place and data exists in a minable state, there will be significant pressure to be able to use the data to manage the business better. Second, extending the availability of information outside of healthcare systems. Interoperability between organizations and e-records, availability of information via the Web, etc., will be critical.

Best way for CIOs to cope with the economic downturn: Most organizations aren't as lean as they could be. I'd encourage CIOs to review all their processes, identify the waste, and remediate it. This must be done intelligently. Don't make cuts that will affect patient care and safety.

Kids and technology careers: I'd absolutely encourage an IT career. IT offers a great opportunity to learn all business processes.

Personal


Colleges/degrees: University of Wisconsin, BBA in marketing and MIS, master's certificate in project management, MBA in management

Leisure activities: Walking and biking

Business leader I'd like to have lunch with: Warren Buffett

Tech vendor CEO I respect most: Andy Eckert, because of his turnaround efforts at Eclipsys

If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... chief administrative officer responsible for IT, talent, finance, and process improvement -- I can't imagine having a position not responsible for IT

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