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CIO Unplugged 2/15/09

February 15, 2009 Ed Marx No Comments

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are mine personally, and are not necessarily representative of Texas Health Resources or its subsidiaries.

“Other Duties As Assigned”
By Ed Marx

One objective of this blog is to give a transparent window into the life of a healthcare CIO. Certain aspects of being a CIO, which generally apply to the entire C-Suite, are the numerous external “other duties as assigned.” The list is by no means complete and only reflects what I’ve grown to understand from working at two large healthcare systems. But I suspect every CIO operates in one if not most of these assignments. (I will remain purposefully vague as to which role is current or former.)

Politics. Be involved. Get out there and shake hands to further the cause of healthcare and your institution. Sometimes this means attending fundraisers for a politician who represents healthcare or for your city or state hospital association. Take part in advocacy efforts and help educate our governing bodies.

Fundraising. Lead by example through the opportunities that come your way. Create margin in the household budget. In addition to established opportunities, we created our own annual IT fundraiser for a children’s hospital that raised over $100K this last year.

Parties. Important social gatherings pop up often, and attendance is not always voluntary. I started out naïve; now I own a tux.

Appointments. Consider these an honor and an opportunity to give back to the larger community. I have held very formal State level appointments as well as less formal city and county appointments on behalf of my employer. But don’t be a wallflower. Speak up, invest yourself to further the cause. Otherwise, don’t bother accepting the position.

Boards. Many organizations are in dire need of talented people to help provide direction and ensure accountability. These Boards can range from an international for-profit corporation to a local, not-for-profit homeless shelter. Always check for potential conflicts of interest first.

Task Forces. Often times these are directly related to healthcare but in a broader community sense. For instance, you might join a task force to research the feasibility of a regional HIE.

Advisory Councils. My all time favorite was serving on the College of Design and Merchandising (fashion) Council at Colorado State University. I was the only non-model, non-designer asked to join the judging panel at the annual fashion show. Lights, models, cameras, crowds—and me sitting at the runway’s end with a tie that didn’t match my suit.

Professional Associations. It’s critical to remain actively involved to advance our profession. I have served on several national HIMSS committees and as State Chapter President (TN and OH). I have spoken on behalf of HIMSS and CHIME throughout the country.

Speaking & Publishing. There is a healthy expectation that we add to the body of knowledge by sharing best practices, evaluated experiences, and tangible results. I have spoken on behalf of and been published in and outside of healthcare. The bonus: it contributes to your growth.

The common thread between these “other duties as assigned” is what makes them so valuable and important and why you need to take an active role. They:

Allow you to give back to the broader community at large
Provide a framework for you to help advance a specific organization or initiative
Enhance your own personal and professional development
Broaden your networking and social contacts
Enhance your organizations position in the community and profession
Force you to think outside of yourself
Ideally makes the world a better place


Ed Marx is senior vice president and CIO at Texas Health Resources in Dallas-Fort Worth, TX. Ed encourages your interaction through this blog. (Use the “add a comment” function at the bottom of each post.) You can also connect with him directly through his profile pages on social networking sites LinkedIn and Facebook, and you can follow him via Twitter – User Name “marxists.”

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