“He's done a great job of helping the board understand the vision of information technology in general, and the electronic medical record in particular—how it ties into our overall strategy as an organization,” says Doug Hock, senior vice president of operations. “The whole idea of the big, hairy, audacious goal is something he is very attuned to, and it is one of the reasons this organization has accomplished as much as it has in the last couple of years.”
A comfort level with technology is always front burner for Durovich as he recruits new board members and top executives for Children's—and that's helped to create a culture top to bottom. “There is a symbiosis that says we are using technology to do what we do—not doing what we do to serve technology,” he says.
In addition to Twitter, the medical center has embraced other Web 2.0 platforms to create opportunities for patients and their parents to interact and learn from one another's experiences, Durovich says, as well as to access their own medical records. “We make no secret that we are the convener of these social media,” he says. “But in the social media world, people are very comfortable expressing their thoughts.”
Dr. Chris Menzies, chief medical information officer, says Durovich's enthusiasm has pushed those efforts forward faster than they might otherwise have gone.
“Chris, because of his particular interest in spreading the experience, has accelerated that program and has stood by it through its many iterations,” he says.
The new data center has ensured that the hospital can upgrade to higher-order functions such as animated three-dimensional imagery—which shows, for example, how a child's mouth opens and closes, or how their eyes shrink when they smile, an invaluable tool for plastic surgeons, Durovich says.
“I love to talk about the ‘gee whiz,' but it comes with a need to expand our storage capacity exponentially,” he says. “Technology is like the light switch, it's like the telephone. It has to be there. We need to build that reliability into our architecture.”
To keep technology on track, Durovich meets monthly with Arora and Hock, quarterly with a broader technology team, and periodically with physicians and staff, particularly in the outlying offices, to hear their concerns and comments.
Menzies credits Durovich with keeping everyone in the far-flung Children's community, including Parkland and University of Texas-Southwestern, speaking the same language on technology when the process could easily devolve into a Tower of Babel. “Chris has helped us to create those bridges with our campus partners and align us in our own organizations,” he says. “Chris has helped us to understand that we're all working to achieve the same goal.”
“He believes in management by walking around,” Arora adds. “He wants his own leadership team to engage in that manner. … It's easy for me to get focused on (to-do lists) and not necessarily carve out the time necessary to get a sense of what's going on in the (medical center) community.”
He also appears at regular technology committee meetings to provide encouragement and to hear feedback from those close to the process. “I am intellectually curious enough to want to go out and roam around,” he says. “I watch how people use what they have. … I'm better, as a leader, when I'm in my question-as-a-method-of-learning mode.”
A physically imposing man, Durovich quickly disarms those who don't know him well, Menzies says. “Right off the beat, he comes into a meeting, and somebody says, ‘Mr. Durovich,' and he says, ‘It's Chris,' ” he says. “I don't think I have ever seen him talk off the cuff in the two years I've been here. There is always a thoughtful pause before he says something.”
Hock also appreciates Durovich's low-key, Socratic style. “One of the things I really like about working with Chris is that he's going not going to proscriptive,” Hock says. “He's offerings thoughts and insights, but he's not saying, ‘We do this and this and this.' He's there as part of the conversation to get to the best solution.”
Durovich often serves as “second adopter” for new systems and software, after they have been initially troubleshot, “so I can learn, first hand, what our other users are going through—the benefits, the frustrations,” he says.
“I'm particularly impressed with the fact that Chris is a hands-on guy,” Menzies says. “At the end of the day, any project or any endeavor you undertake should not be an IT project—it has to be an organizational project. Without that strong leadership direction and support, you're nowhere.”