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Children’s Health’s Pamela Arora Named 2016 CIO of the Year

January 9, 2017
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Pamela Arora, CIO of Children’s Health in Dallas, has been named by CHIME and HIMSS as the 2016 John E. Gall, Jr. CIO of the Year.

According to a CHIME press release announcement on Jan. 9, Arora’s goal at Children’s Health is a simple one: ensure that clinicians at Children’s Health have the resources and information they need to provide the best care possible for patients. While that can prove challenging for many CIOs due to tremendous upheaval and budgetary constraints, “through an ambitious telemedicine program, an unwavering commitment to information exchange and willingness to help small provider organizations, Arora has helped the Dallas-based health system break down barriers to care,” CHIME officials stated.

The award, sponsored by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) and Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), recognizes healthcare IT executives who have made significant contributions to their organization and demonstrated innovative leadership through effective use of technology. The boards of directors for both organizations annually select the recipient of the award, which is named in honor of the late John E. Gall Jr., who pioneered implementation of the first fully integrated medical information system in the world at California’s El Camino Hospital in the 1960s.

Under her leadership at Children’s Health, where Arora has been for the past decade, the organization has bolstered information sharing by hosting electronic medical records (EMRs) for physician practices and other providers. The health system also forged strong partnerships with regional health information exchange programs. Through a 2013 pilot with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), Children’s Health became one of the first health systems in the nation to give parents untethered access to their children’s health information.

The innovations don’t stop with information exchange, either. Extending care beyond the hospital walls, an ever-expanding telemedicine program enables nurses at nearly 100 schools to conduct virtual consultations with hospital-based clinicians. All of these initiatives give care teams a better glimpse into the health status of their patients and improves care across the continuum.

What’s more, as healthcare organizations improve information sharing though, new vulnerabilities arise. Undoubtedly, cyber criminals are increasingly targeting healthcare with sophisticated attacks. Recognizing that smaller provider settings don’t always have the resources to bolster their security systems, Children’s Health has championed a HITRUST program called CyberAid that enables small practices to find cost-effective cybersecurity solutions.

Children’s Health is the eighth- largest pediatric health care provider in the nation, and the second - busiest in terms of admissions and emergency department visits, its officials note. Children’s Health is anchored by three full-service hospitals and the Children’s Medical Research Institute at UT Southwestern. The system also includes multiple specialty centers, 20 pediatric group practices and a telemedicine network, as well as home health and physician services.

“Each of us has a personal story that involves healthcare,” Arora said in a statement. “Whether we are the patient, or one of our loved ones is the patient, we want our physicians and clinicians to have every resource to ensure they can deliver the best possible care. This recognition reaffirms that, though technology may not always be visible, the work we are doing is making a difference in the lives of patients—in our case, we’re delivering on our mission of making life better for children.”

She continued, “IT has been able to provide the tools and infrastructure necessary to support our organization’s reach outside of our walls. Because our team members and clinicians are eager adopters of technology, we are typically able to gain buy in for technology initiatives that will allow our providers to care for patients in new and innovative ways.”

Arora has also demonstrated commitment to advancing the role of the CIO and other health IT leaders. She’s served on both the CHIME and HITRUST board of trustees. She also represented CHIME and HIMSS on the international front, working to build partnerships and share best practices across the globe. Arora has been honored with a number of awards, including propelling Children’s Health to Stage 7 of HIMSS Analytics’ Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model, the highest level of achievement on that scale.

“Pamela Arora continues to push the envelope of what it means to be a CIO,” said Russell Branzell, CHIME president and CEO. “Time and time again, she shows how we can use health IT to not only support an organization’s overall strategy, but truly transform patient care across the entire continuum.”

H. Stephen Lieber, HIMSS president and CEO, added, “Pamela Arora understands and advances the strategic connection between quality patient care and the best use of IT. As a HIMSS member for 13 years, her leadership and vision have made a positive difference in the work she does at Children’s Health and in her overall dedication to improving health and healthcare for the patients she serves.”

Arora will officially receive the award Feb. 21, 2017, at the HIMSS Annual Conference & Exhibition in Orlando.

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