Providence St. Joseph Health CMIO Dr. Michael Marino on top priorities for CMIOs

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Michael Marino, DO, brings years of clinical and leadership experience to his work as senior vice president and chief medical information officer of Providence St. Joseph Health in Irvine, Calif.

Dr. Marino has worked at the intersection of clinical systems and IT at Providence St. Joseph Health since 2016, when he joined the health system as its chief of both information services operations and clinical systems. Before joining Providence St. Joseph Health, Dr. Marino also held the title of CMO at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, Calif.

Dr. Marino earned his DO degree from Pomona, Calif.-based Western University of Health Sciences, and has worked as a physician for nearly 30 years. To bolster his business background, he completed an MBA at University of Massachusetts Isenberg School of Management in Amherst — an accomplishment he recommends other physicians interested in C-level leadership consider, as well.

Here, Dr. Marino discusses his advice for aspiring CMIOs and how technology may help reduce clinician burnout.

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: What is your No. 1 priority as CMIO? How do you ensure your success?

Dr. Michael Marino: My No. 1 priority is to ensure that the technologies we use are helping to improve the care we provide to our patients. I have been a physician for 25 years, and we measure more outcomes every year. So here's an example of how we can ensure success: If we add a software solution that claims to improve sepsis care, we can directly measure our sepsis mortality rate, pre- and post-implementation.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring CMIOs?

MM: If you truly want to be a successful CMIO and not a physician informaticist — where you would focus on one area or specialty — my advice is to get as much operational experience as possible. In a typical day, I can go from a nursing-focused meeting, to addressing a concern about physician enterprise, to discussing home health, and then, after lunch, to a four-hour meeting to discuss our retail-medicine strategy. Most of us start out as physician champions because we are leaders in our specialty and can embrace change and technology, but if you want to succeed as a CMIO, you must also learn operations, and perhaps consider an MBA or master of health administration.

Q: What types of innovation do we need to improve the healthcare system?

MM: The biggest need for innovation to improve the healthcare system in the future is anything that helps the caregivers, physicians and nurses who are seeing a 50 to 60 percent burnout rate. The healthcare landscape is changing faster than we can keep up. Voice assistants and artificial intelligence are helping us in our daily lives — but why not at the bedside or in the clinic? I should be able to "ask Alexa" to find the last echo or mammogram in the EMR. AI should be able to track my charting pattern and make a suggestion, even if it's as simple as suggesting I order a chest X-ray before closing out an admission order, like I did the last time I had a patient with the same condition. We need to care for those who care for us.   

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