When Myra Davis started at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston nearly fifteen years ago, the medical landscape was much different than it is today. Digital technology was in its infancy for medical applications, and EMRs were just becoming commonplace. At the same time, Texas Children’s Hospital was entering an era of unprecedented growth.
Shortly after Davis joined the hospital, it began enacting its Vision 2010 expansion plan. In her first decade with the organization, it added another full-service hospital in West Houston, as well as the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute, the Texas Children’s West Campus outpatient clinic building, and the Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. Still today, that growth does not appear to be slowing, as the organization looks to add a new pediatric tower in 2018, a new community hospital in North Houston, and expanded services moving forward.
Throughout this continued period of growth, Davis’s role within the organization has evolved accordingly. She has held three positions over the years: director of information services for customer support, VP of information services, and now senior VP and chief information officer. With each new role and challenge, Davis has been the right person to grow with the technology and needs of the organization, while simultaneously bringing the organization up to speed.
From Idea to Implementation
Whether it’s a new medication bar code system or consolidating data centers, all new tech projects that Myra Davis and the information services department execute go through one centralized project management office (PMO). At the PMO, each new initiative is evaluated through a rigorous process.
“We have a methodology that’s tried and true,” Davis says. “It allows us to deliver projects according to our goals if we follow it.”
The first step is determining the type of project it is. If it’s a project that does not need to be managed in-house and will have outside providers, the PMO submits a request for information first. Once the hospital has evaluated the project as something that it wants to pursue and has funding for, the PMO submits a request for proposal.
“This really shows how we are putting out an opportunity for our vendors to partner with us to solve a problem that we have,” Davis says. “We work closely with our supply chain contract group that has
a formal process in how we select vendors.”
The project must then meet the hospital’s functional and technical requirements. First, Davis’s team makes sure it can integrate into their existing environment. Next, they ensure it will create a safe environment from an information security perspective. Then, they weigh the priority of the project.
Finally, there’s a scoring process facilitated by the hospital’s contracts group. This includes interviews, calling for references,
site visits, and more.
“I like math. I’m very analytic,” Davis says. “My mother taught advanced math for forty years, and I really didn’t have a choice but to like math, so I think that drew the analytical and logical side out of me. I think it’s just in my DNA, and I believe in translation of sciences to help others understand how it works.”
Inspired by her mother’s passion for numbers, Davis went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Loyola–New Orleans and then a master’s degree in software engineering from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. Davis followed this by working as a consultant for years, before eventually joining Texas Children’s Hospital. What attracted Davis to the organization was the prospect of getting off the road as a consultant and the better work/life balance the company offered as her children were growing older. Additionally, the organization’s mission to create a healthier future for children and women throughout the global community was what truly inspired her.
“The mission of Texas Children’s is one that is infectious. Who doesn’t want to create a healthy environment for kids and women?” she says. “When you think about that mission, that will get you up every day. It’ll get you to work, and then you get to think about what you do to fulfill that mission, which is to ensure that the technology this organization is using advances medicine for children and women.”
From the outset of her career with Texas Children’s Hospital, Davis faced a number of challenges. Moving the hospital to an EMR system—a major undertaking—was one of her first projects. And as with any big change, there were a number of people resistant to it and those who simply had trouble adapting.
“You can’t assume that just because you build it, everyone’s going to come and use it,” Davis says. “That’s one thing you don’t take for granted. When you really think about how it’s changed the dynamic for caregivers who had to go from paper and pen to a keyboard, a mouse, and a screen, that’s a pretty big switch.”
The process of this adoption took years. By the spring of 2012, the hospital’s EMR system, Epic, was fully implemented. Since then, Texas Children’s Hospital has seen a number of meaningful benefits. The biggest of these, Davis says, was the fact that throughout the expanding healthcare organization all caregivers had one true source of information.
“We’re able to see our patients from anywhere we’re located,” she says. “If you’re in the main campus, you log in and you can see the patient. If you go to our west campus community hospital, you can see that patient. Just the fact that we have that enterprise view is really efficient for our providers and our caregivers.”
Following the full EMR implementation, Davis was promoted to chief information officer, and she spearheaded a number of new initiatives designed to create better quality patient care. Rather than simply keeping the organization’s IT up to date, Davis has turned the information services department into a leading resource for the hospital. In fact, during her tenure as CIO, Texas Children’s Hospital has won the Most Wired hospital designation from the American Hospital Association’s flagship publication, Hospitals & Health Networks magazine, three times—most recently in 2016. The hospital also won the Most Wired Innovator Award in 2013 for its Rapid Communication System—an app that consolidated and improved communications by enabling group and individual exchanges and providing detailed information on colleague availability and work status. Since then, Davis continues to take pride in the projects that she oversees.
One such project is the hospital’s new medication bar code solution, Epic Rover. Davis says this system will increase safety, a significant improvement across the system. “We’re making sure we’re giving the five rights: the right medicine to the right patient at the right time for the right care and the right reason,” she says.
Another is the Texas Children’s Hospital’s use of GetWellNetwork’s patient-facing technology solutions. Now, in each room across Texas Children’s Hospital’s campus, patients have a smart TV with an interactive interface that serves a number of functions.
“The mission of Texas Children’s is one that is infectious. Who doesn’t want to create a healthy environment for kids and women?”
“In our women’s hospital, you can order food and watch movies; it’s almost like a hotel-type solution. Kids can play games,” Davis says. “In other parts of the hospital, some functionality is being used for education upon discharge to ensure that families are getting the right education prior to leaving the organization, which has been fulfilling to watch as well.”
Looking toward the future, Davis is working to further modernize Texas Children’s Hospital to ensure ever-improving care and service. Right now, Davis and her team are consolidating ten data centers across the organization into two. This, she says, will improve the organization in a number of ways. First, it reduces the amount of maintenance the information services department needs to do. More proactively, though, it will mitigate the hospital’s data vulnerability.
“It’s a three-year journey,” Davis says. “We’re in the first leg of it, and that’s really exciting.”
Davis is also excited to be working closely with the hospital’s CMIO. Together, they are putting a process in place to capture inventive ideas from people throughout the organization. Davis says they are going to put a rigid, agile process in place to determine if there are solutions they can provide, if they need to leverage existing technologies, and how fast they can invest in technologies to provide those solutions.
To do this, Davis makes sure to return to her instinctive knack for math and science, as well as her ability to share her enthusiasm for technology to others.
“I’m innately a coach and teacher,” Davis explains. “I think that over the years, being so passionate has indirectly transformed and given me the opportunity to do what I do now. When you enjoy what you’re doing, you don’t really have a destiny for it. You just love it, and you end up in places that you never thought you would end up before.”