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Healthcare CIO Edward Marx: IT ROI is measured in lives saved

Mary K. Pratt | May 20, 2014
Edward W. Marx focuses on technology's power to transform the healthcare industry.

Edward W. Marx focuses on technology's power to transform the healthcare industry. As senior vice president and CIO at Texas Health Resources in Arlington, Marx has led numerous IT-enabled transformative initiatives aimed at improving patient health. Those projects include using social media to connect with the local community and implementing BI tools to deliver advanced clinical care.

"Everyone agrees there's a financial benefit, but at the end of the day, I know what we're doing is making the difference in someone's life. I can see by leveraging IT you can make a demonstrative difference," he says.

In January, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives and HIMSS, a nonprofit group focused on healthcare IT, selected Marx as the recipient of the 2013 John E. Gall Jr. CIO of the Year Award.

What do you think earned you recognition as CIO of the Year? My leadership and my transformation methodology and disruption of the status quo. I stress leadership a lot more than technology. I talk to people about wising up and claiming their title, because for most of us, that's senior vice president before chief information officer. So really lean on that senior vice president title. We do a lot of transformation here leveraging technology. And we do a lot of disruption here.

How do you measure IT's value in your organization? We do measure traditional financial ROI, just like any other company. We're very judicious about that.

But what stokes my fire is how do we measure clinical quality and patient safety and how, therefore, do we improve it. We have all these technology tools that we could leverage to improve quality and safety. Our performance is based on the measures of those.

One example: One of the biggest killers of patients that come into American hospitals today is pulmonary thromboembolism, or PTE. So we did some innovation and we reduced the incidence of PTE by 25%. We know because we measure this stuff. In a traditional hospital, if you think a patient is at risk for PTE, you put them on a certain protocol — elevate their legs or take a particular drug. But in a paper process, you might not realize a patient is at risk.

Because we're automated with electronic health records, we built that into our order set. It's that sort of innovation that really enabled this transformation.

What is your biggest IT initiative right now? We don't have any IT initiatives. We have business initiatives that require IT, and one of those is population health. We're more about well-being, and we want to engage the communities before they need Texas Health. We're engaging our community in many ways, and population health requires a lot of IT.


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