Pamela Arora’s goal is simple: ensure that clinicians at Children’s Health have the resources and information they need to provide the best care possible for patients. In an era of tremendous upheaval and budgetary constraints, fulfilling that pledge can test even the most sophisticated organizations. Yet 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.
In recognition of her commitment to transform healthcare, Arora, senior vice president and CIO of Children’s Health, has been named the 2016 John E. Gall, Jr. CIO of the Year. The award, sponsored by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) and 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. Arora will receive the award Feb. 21, 2017, at the HIMSS Annual Conference & Exhibition in Orlando.
“Each of us has a personal story that involves healthcare,” Arora said. “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”
Under her leadership, Children’s Health has bolstered information sharing by hosting electronic medical records 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, 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. 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.
“IT has been able to provide the tools and infrastructure necessary to support our organization’s reach outside of our walls,” Arora said. “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.”
As healthcare organizations improve information sharing though, new vulnerabilities arise. 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.
“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.”
Beyond her passion for improving care in the Dallas area, Arora has demonstrated a tremendous 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 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,” said H. Stephen Lieber, HIMSS president and CEO.
The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is an executive organization dedicated to serving chief information officers and other senior healthcare IT leaders. With more than 2,000 CIO members and over 150 healthcare IT vendors and professional services firms, CHIME provides a highly interactive, trusted environment enabling senior professional and industry leaders to collaborate; exchange best practices; address professional development needs; and advocate the effective use of information management to improve the health and healthcare in the communities they serve. For more information, visit chimecentral.org.
HIMSS is a global voice, advisor, convener, and thought leader of health transformation through the best use of IT with a unique breadth and depth of expertise and capabilities to improve the quality, safety, and cost-effectiveness of health and healthcare. Through its network of over 1 million professionals, including 64,000-plus members, HIMSS advises leaders, stakeholders and influencers globally on IT best practices to ensure decision-makers have the right information at the right time to make the right decisions. HIMSS North America, HIMSS Analytics, Personal Connected Health Alliance, HIMSS Media and HIMSS International (HIMSS Europe, HIMSS Asia and HIMSS Middle East) are the five business units of HIMSS. A not-for-profit headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, HIMSS has additional offices in North America, Europe, United Kingdom, and Asia.