4 questions with CHIME-HIMSS CIO of the Year Pamela Arora

Pamela Arora is not only the senior vice president and CIO of Children's Health in Dallas — she was also named 2016 John E. Gall, Jr. CIO of the Year by CHIME and HIMSS.

Each year, the boards of directors for CHIME and HIMSS select the CIO of the Year award recipient: a healthcare IT executive who has made contributions to their organization and demonstrated leadership through the effective use of technology.image015

Ms. Arora, who has more than 30 years of IT experience, joined Children's Health in 2007. Under her leadership, Children's Health achieved the HIMSS Stage 7 EMR Adoption Model in 2010. A member of HIMSS, CHIME and the Children's Hospital Association, Ms. Arora previously was senior vice president and CIO of Worcester-based UMass Memorial Health Care and CIO of Dallas-based Perot Systems.

Here, Ms. Arora spoke with Becker's Hospital Review about the most surprising thing she learned after becoming a CIO and what IT leaders should keep an eye on in 2017.

Question: Which technology or IT issues is Children's Health focusing on this year?

Pamela Arora: One of the top technology and IT priorities for this year (and the foreseeable future) is continuing to evolve care delivery models in provider healthcare. We are keenly focused on developing our population health programs to create more efficient, sustainable care delivery models across the continuum. These efforts support our organization's desire to meet patients in the community where they live, learn and play.

Q: What is the most surprising thing you learned after becoming a CIO?

PA: If you could take a cross section of an organization, you'd find pockets of people who hold the misbelief that the CIO has a "magic wand" for IT spending and investment. That's not the case — IT investments are business/mission decisions that require involvement from the highest levels of leadership in the organization when making the decision. In my role as CIO, I'm a "translator" in that I have a responsibility to help the organization understand the implications of the technology choices being considered and help the organization make the appropriate decision for the business and to ultimately fulfill our mission to make life better for children.

Question: What are the biggest challenges and benefits of being a woman working in tech?

PA: In my view, the challenges we face in technology are more about ensuring your team members are aligned with the organization's goals. Individuals at Children's Health are universally committed to our mission to make life better for children. There are many paths to follow to your mission, but focusing on the organization's goals gives us a clear framework that allows us to leverage our resources in the best way to deliver on our sacred responsibility to make life better for children. When we deliver, our work stands on its own.

When I evaluate the benefits of being a leader in the industry, there are many. One of the biggest benefits is being able to collaborate with — and learn from — some phenomenal industry leaders. These relationships have helped make our organization better, and they've helped make our team better.

Q: What is the No. 1 topic CIOs should be paying attention to in 2017?

PA: CIOs need to pay attention to making IT more affordable while still ensuring the organization pursues cybersecurity, innovation and development. You have to be cognizant of the fact that the cyber threat landscape continues to change and evolve, having less technology isn't an option when it's embedded in every initiative, and lowering the level of support to your organization is not affordable. You have to address all of these areas and continue to drive a better value for your organization. 

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