Pamela Arora serves as SVP and CIO at Children’s Health in Dallas, where she directs all Information Services efforts including systems and technology, Health Information Management, and Health Technology Management.
She has led the organization to achieve HIMSS Stage 7 Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model designation, InformationWeek500, InformationWeek Elite 100 and Most Wired designations, the HIMSS Enterprise Davies Award for the organization’s innovative use of the electronic health record, HITRUST Common Security Framework (CSF) and SECURETexas Certifications. Through her leadership, Children’s Health won the AHIMA Grace Award for excellence in Health Information Management, and the CHIME/AHA Transformational Leadership Award for the organization’s work to promote cybersecurity across the continuum of care.
Ms. Arora has been named to Becker’s 130 Women Hospital and Health System Leaders to know, received the HIMSS/CHIME John E. Gall CIO of the Year Award (2017), received the CIO of the Year ORBIE Award (2018 nonprofit category), and Tech Titan (2019). She is a lifetime member of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (LCHIME), a member of the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA). Pamela currently serves on the AAMI Board, HITRUST Board, DallasCIO Advisory Council, and Epic's Population Health Steering Board.
While we all have a personal story that involves health care, we all have one thing in common. 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 be able to deliver the best possible care. This is what drew me to a career in health care IT. While technology may not always be visible, our work makes a difference in the lives of patients—in our case, we are making life better for children. What could be better than that?
The top three motivating factors for me are:
- Complex challenges
- Making a difference
- Working with a caring team
These motivating factors have not changed for me—they are basic tenets of my personality and belief system.
I am motivated by challenges, as they have enabled me to grow throughout the course of my career. While it’s true that the biggest opportunities are often the most messy or difficult ones, when you embrace the opportunity not as a challenge, but rather as a chance to grow or solve a problem, it can be highly motivating. And when you’re motivated as a leader, you can motivate those around you to see the opportunity as well. Another motivator for me is benchmarking, because we continually strive to become better—our benchmarking efforts enable us to find ways of learning from the best in the business.
Lean into Change – those who adapt to change well often take on new roles that are needed in new organization or corporate structures. Those who don’t adapt to change may try keeping things the way they used to be. In healthcare, change is inevitable, and it’s important to learn how to adapt.
Lead where you are – early in my career at General Motors (GM), after the contract for the acquisition of the first non-GM contract was signed, I volunteered to work on the project, which happened to be with Caterpillar Tractor. The work was difficult and required long hours. In the end, volunteering for the opportunity served as an on the job interview for me. When the team lead of Material Introduction team resigned, they asked me to lead that team! This was my first opportunity to serve in this capacity.
Work yourself out of mastered jobs and into new jobs – this is the concept of building a bench. I am a firm believer in working yourself out of a job, because this enables you to work into a new one. This concept requires succession planning and caring for others around you so that you are ready for the next opportunity. It involves taking the time to mentor those around you so they will be ready to step in when you move to your next opportunity.
Nothing you learn is wasted – after successfully completing the Material Introduction System for EDS and making sure the team was comfortable maintaining the system, I received a phone call from Perot Systems. Ross Perot started a new company and the company reached out to me because I had a reputation for getting the job done. I was interviewed and offered a position. When I talked to my current boss at EDS who wanted to work for Perot Systems, all he said to me was “put in a good word for me!” I joined when the company had fewer than 200 employees—it went on to grow to north of 10K. I saw the company go public, served in many roles delivering IT in many industries, and eventually became CIO for the entire organization. I later left to start my own company, which is currently still in business. From there, I moved into healthcare, where I’ve served as a CIO for the last 16 years, with 13 of those years being at Children’s Health.
Embrace the Multi-disciplinary team – I serve on several Boards, but I gravitate to those where I can bring a unique discipline and viewpoint to the table. If everyone in the room has the same experience/background, it can make for a one-sided view of issues. I think diversity of backgrounds and experience can greatly improve the strength of a team.
I’m proud of many of our organization’s accomplishments, including the HIMSS Davies Award and our EMRAM Level 7 designation. But one of my best memories and proudest moments with HIMSS was when we hosted the inaugural HIMSS Executive Institute event. The HIMSS HEI event attracted some of the best and brightest in the industry, and it was an honor and privilege to be among the leaders who participated in this prestigious event.
My fifth-grade teacher was my first mentor—he told me to “Speak up!” because I had a voice and I should use it to be heard.
Failure sometimes can be your best teacher, so don’t fear it.
I love my Fitbit App.
What a Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong
If I wasn’t a CIO, I would probably be a travel tour guide.
HIMSS has been instrumental in creating “stretch goals”—not just for me personally, but also for my team and for our organization. While we’ve achieved these honors and awards (Davies Award, EMRAM Level 7, John E Gall Award), there are many recognitions and milestones that we have not achieved, and HIMSS has continued to educate and challenge our organization and the industry to expand our skills and our profession so that we can continue the work of revolutionizing healthcare.