Boston Children's Hospital CMIO Dr. Marvin Harper's vision for 2019 and how he'll get there

Jackie Drees - Print  | 

Marvin Harper, MD, chief medical information officer at Boston Children's Hospital, discusses why technology is only part of the solution to issues in healthcare and how collaboration between clinicians, patients and innovators can help improve workflows.

Responses are lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: What do you consider your No. 1 priority as CMIO? How do you ensure you're successful?

Dr. Marvin Harper: Digital methods to improve consumer engagement with their care, including where they get care, how they schedule, how they interact with their clinicians and even how they pay for care.

Q: What is the vision for your team in 2019?

MH: Dual mission this year —stabilize and upgrade existing clinical systems and develop and roll out new platforms for patient engagement.

Q: How will you approach your role and meeting your goals?

MH: The thing that feels different this year is the competition for resources combined with increased expectations for what technology can deliver across the board. In prior years, we moved from resistance to acceptance. Now we are being asked to move faster with increasing expectations for "technology solutions," as technology has now been woven throughout the fabric of healthcare delivery.

Nonetheless, it remains critically important that we not lose sight of the fact that technology is only a part of the solution and it is only, if given sufficient resources, through collaboration with our patients, clinicians, innovators, local leaders and developers or vendors that we will develop compelling products and improved workflows.

Q: Where do you see the biggest need for innovation to improve the healthcare system in the future?

MH: Converging of patient engagement tools to integrate with or disrupt current models of care delivery while at the same time respecting patient privacy and ensuring measurable high-quality care.

Q: How did you become a CMIO?

MH: By being an involved clinician seeking to improve the provider experience and having a strong desire to access the data gathered in the course of care in order to develop and improve the quality of care we deliver.

Q: What is your background and what advice do you have for aspiring CMIOs?

MH: My background is clinical, and I remain clinically active working in our emergency department. Over time, I have additionally sought training in epidemiology, business and computer science.

My advice for aspiring CMIOs is to make sure this is a calling. You need a vision that excites you and those around you. You need to trust and respect colleagues — listen and learn from them. Don't be afraid. Be bold and fearless if you are confident that what you are doing is the right thing for patients.

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