Caring for Patients as a Vendor CMIO

By Robert Hitchcock, MD, FACEP
November 2012, HIMSS Clinical Informatics Insights

A former computer science major, I fell in love with emergency medicine after taking an EMT course for “easy” credit. Medical school soon taught me that medicine is a delicate synchronization of science, technology and art. Managing an EHR implementation in my emergency department (ED) quickly revealed how technology can impact care delivery, both positively and negatively.

Years later, I encountered an ED information system that stood out from all others. This system renewed my faith in the power of technology in a medical setting. After 15 years of clinical practice, I exchanged my stethoscope for a CMIO position with this EDIS vendor I admired. Now, I can influence the care provided to 100,000-plus patients every day – far more than what was ever possible during my clinical shifts.

Hospitals are increasingly recognizing the importance of having a liaison between clinical and technical experts. CMIOs help facilities choose solutions that meet their business needs, while encouraging provider adoption by implementing systems that enhance their practice. Simultaneously, the CMIO can proactively help enterprises understand the implications of a connected healthcare environment on their providers. 

The CMIO role at an EHR vendor is similar to a practice setting. It entails ensuring that developers and product analysts understand the unique needs of the care providers. However, in the vendor setting, solutions must be designed to meet the diverse demands of all client constituents—small and large hospitals, academic centers and multi-facility enterprises. One of the most rewarding experiences afforded a vendor CMIO is the opportunity to meet with a wide variety of constituents to create collaborative communities and educate clients on the power of technology solutions.

For anyone wishing a foray into this world, I offer simple advice: Do so with vigor and humility. You will affect the lives of many, including yourself.

About the Contributor
Robert Hitchcock, MD, FACEP, is Chief Medical Informatics Officer and Vice President of T-System Inc. He joined T-System in 2008 as a clinical resource for content development and sales support, subsequently leading the product management for The T System EV®. Today, as the company’s CMIO, he leads T-System’s strategy for key industry issues such as Meaningful Use, ICD-10, ACOs and patient care quality. In addition, he provides counsel and guidance to clients for defining strategies to address these issues with T-System services and products.