In 2019, you added “innovation” to your title of chief information officer. Before that, you served as vice president of information services. How did the additional innovation piece get added to your responsibilities?
It was really not “Myra’s thinking” whatsoever. It was just the thinking and brilliance of our CEO and president, Mark Wallace. Along with his executive team, he recognized and appreciated how we have leveraged not only the functionality of our electronic medical record, but (its) integration into other solutions, and the advancement … the organization (has made) when it comes to leveraging data. It was really his intuition that birthed the additional “I” in my title.
At the onset of that introduction of my title, it was really important for me to work with the organization to define what innovation means in our organization. At the end of that exercise, it was very apparent that innovation is everyone’s responsibility. Just because I had the word in my title did not mean I was the only person to think innovatively in our organization. The other part of it is that, at the root of the word innovation, it means, really, to change. For me, it became a matter of: How do I partner with our executive team to ensure that we are leveraging technology to change operating practices, to change and enhance how we care for our patients, and to change how we care for our workforce?
I love the way you defined innovation as change, whether it’s with regard to clinical care, the workforce or something else. What teams do you lead at Texas Children’s as part of that work?
I have an innovation team. Their role is to partner with the organization—because innovation is everyone’s responsibility—on: What are the opportunities we have? What problems are others at the organization trying to solve? And, more importantly, do we have the assets in our portfolio to solve those problems?
They are also looking at possibilities to partner with outside companies to create products, or even enhance existing products, leveraging Texas Children’s data. We have a rich data source, and we know that it’s attractive to many startups or existing companies.
They also work internally with the rest of the technical teams so that (the innovation team is) abreast of upcoming advancements in technologies that we own, and to explore what opportunities they could solve.
In addition, they partner closely with our executives and clinical leaders through an innovation advisory group. We meet periodically to understand what opportunities we have. It’s one team, but it’s one team that works with many existing teams.
How do you go about recruiting staff for the innovation team? What kind of skill sets are you looking for?
They don’t need a technical background. They need more of an inquisitive-nature background—the ability to ask questions, influence and really work from the lens of a startup. Not everything is defined. We’re looking to them to go out and just seek opportunities and not be afraid to meet people. So, a lot of courage. We have some really talented individuals on that team who are skilled at doing that. They’ve been great partners to the rest of the information services team, as well as the organization.