Hospitals, Health IT

Cleveland Clinic CIO talks innovation, patient engagement and BYOD

In a recent phone interview, newly minted Cleveland Clinic CIO Edward Marx discussed his position, how to avoid pilot purgatory and his organization’s “patients first” mantra.

technology, tech, IT, health IT, information technology

Edward Marx is no stranger to the world of healthcare.

He has held executive positions at the Advisory Board Company, Texas Health Resources and University Hospitals. Marx is also a Fellow in the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives and Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

On September 1, he took over the CIO role at Cleveland Clinic. In a recent phone interview, he chatted about his new position and a few of the hot topics in health IT.

This exchange has been lightly edited.

You started in your new role on September 1. What are your goals for Cleveland Clinic in the year ahead?

Number one is that my goals are exactly the same as our organizational goals. I don’t believe in having separate goals for our IT and [Cleveland Clinic].

IT is the framework for much of what we do, but we have “patient first” philosophy. A lot of people get carried away with a focus on IT and building things and lose focus of why they’re doing what they’re doing. My approach is to be right there at the leadership table, understand our mission and vision and make sure we leverage IT to achieve those outcomes.

Based on your previous experience in the healthcare field, what new ideas are you bringing to Cleveland Clinic?

I’m really fortunate in that I have a clinical background, a business background and a technical background. I’m able to take all three of those and apply them to my role so I can relate to all of my key customers.

I’ve learned a lot from my previous experiences. There are some things I’m bringing here, but I’m careful and mindful of trying not to replicate the past. If I come here and try to replicate things that worked 10 years ago, it’s not going to be very successful.

I want to understand the uniqueness of our organization and try new things. I want to learn from my new team, and if I come in with a game plan already, it’s going to limit the potential of technology. I come in with a new mindset, and at the same time, I do have the confidence that I’ve been to make transformation-level changes.

What are your thoughts on bring your own device (BYOD)? What works and doesn’t work in training clinicians to use their devices responsibly?

What we’re focused on as a principle is enhancing caregiver productivity. It’s all about workflow. Whether we’re talking about the design of an EHR or processes within our labs, it’s about quality care, but also caregiver satisfaction.

With that in mind, we do a lot of things around the context of mobility. BYOD is central to that. We offer and will be offering more BYOD type of options. Our vendor has packages that work on mobile devices that we continue to evangelize so we can make workflow for caregivers that much easier. I’m a big proponent in allowing caregivers to leverage whatever device works best for them in a safe and secure manner.

How do you view technology innovation? At Cleveland Clinic, how will you avoid pilot purgatory and innovation for innovation’s sake?

We are very much proponents of innovation. The Clinic’s brand has been build on amazing clinical innovation that has led to thousands of saved lives. IT should be no different. Our culture in IT is in alignment with the rest of the organization.

[Innovation] is a natural outcome of our culture. It’s an honor to be part of an organization that thinks that way.

I think there’s a caution about doing pilots. Sometimes you just need to do. People become so risk-averse that they pilot to death. I’ve known colleagues who have been piloting something for two years and never deployed it. It’s good to take a cautious approach but not so much that you never actually deploy.

How do you plan to leverage technology while keeping patients at the center of the conversation?

We have an app out there called Express Care Online. Anyone can go on the app and access a clinician. We want to deliver healthcare in the way that’s best for the patient. Sometimes people don’t have time to go to a traditional brick and mortar complex, so this is another way of delivering care to our patients.

We’re even doing Uber. We can get a ride for you, if you need one, via Uber.

Another system called Vital Scout is a simple color-coded way of watching an inpatient’s progress. As a result of deploying that, we’ve seen saved lives.

We’ve been longtime leaders in the field in patient portals and exchanging patients’ records electronically and safely and securely all over the world.

Keeping patients first is our primary mantra and our focus. There is nothing I’ve ever seen as comprehensive and dedicated toward putting the patient at the center as Cleveland Clinic, whether we’re talking a pure cultural view or from the technology we leverage.

Photo: coffeekai, Getty Images