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CIO Unplugged – 8/15/08

August 15, 2008 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.

CIO reDefined: Chief Intake Officer
By Ed Marx

The roles of a CIO are as varied as the companies and sectors they serve. Even within these roles are multiple combinations and permutations that are expressed according to circumstance. The moniker “CIO” itself is not limited to “Chief Information Officer.” No, to be effective in our calling we must stretch the traditional definition beyond this commonly accepted interpretation. This post continues a series on how the “CIO 2.0” will push the boundaries of conventional thinking surrounding the role. We continue with the “Chief Intake Officer.”

Regarding my training schedule, many have asked, “How do you keep from going crazy while biking and running for endless hours?”

Sound boring? Leading up to the Ironman race, I biked indoors every weekday for hours at a time. Often that was followed by a long run on the treadmill with a cool down on the elliptical. As one who dislikes wasting time, I spent many of those hours reading magazines, books, and newspapers. I drank. I ate. I read. All essential intakes. This pattern did not work well in the pool…

One factor that adds complexity to the practice of medicine is the amount of new information a clinician must absorb to stay current. Studies suggest it would take a clinician an average of 351 hours of study monthly to stay abreast of the latest in medicine. That is a tall order for any profession, especially when you combine it with the age-old equation of balancing work and life.

I have not encountered any equivalent studies, but I speculate that the effort required for CIOs to remain current is equally as challenging. This post does not convey how to make the time but rather gives a feel for my personal amount of “intake.” The sources below detail the individual reoccurring resources but exclude the interactive ones (conferences, professional organizations, staff, education, etc.)

· Newspapers (online when practical)

Local paper

Local business journals

Wall Street Journal

· Magazines (online when practical)


Read ~5 healthcare IT magazines (Advance, etc)

Read ~1 clinical journals

Read ~3 healthcare business/leadership magazines


Read 3 general IT magazines

Read 2 IT leadership magazines


Business Week

Harvard Business Review






Miscellaneous spiritual growth

· Books

Top 10 Books for CIOs (updated annually)

Books based on our division IT book review clubs

Bible (attempted at beginning of each day)

Miscellaneous spiritual growth

· CDs

Monthly subscription for business books

Monthly mentoring series

Miscellaneous cross genre

· Blogs


Miscellaneous (IT, healthcare, fitness, spiritual)

· Online


Reference sources (Gartner, KLAS, etc)

Miscellaneous research

Professional organizations (CHIME, HIMSS, AHA)


CNN addiction

General business

General fitness (nutrition, Ironman, Argentine Tango)


Social Networking



My main points:

· Drive home the vast amount of intake required for the CIO 2.0.

· Intake does not solely focus on IT and healthcare. You must see the bigger picture, beyond healthcare and IT and from a broader context.

· A key to personal health is pursuing interests and passions outside of healthcare and IT. This also aids in innovation (see “glorious mashup” post.).

· Continuously invest in yourself.

· Be a good steward of your time. (More on this in a future post.)

Too many leaders lack adequate intake. Would you go to a physician who was behind in CEU’s, the latest in technology, or research? Are you recycling old ideas or stifling your learning environment. What are the last three books you read? How much time is allotted in your schedule for professional and personal development and renewal? As with cycling, you can stop pedaling and coast based on previous intake, but eventually you will lose momentum, then balance, and then you will fall. Meanwhile, others will pass you by. So get on your leadership bike and ride!

In a subsequent CIO 2.0 post, I will discuss the art of integrating and distilling all this information for key stakeholders such as staff, clinicians, and non-IT leadership.

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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