No Other Place – Liz Johnson’s 2014 Federal Public Policy Award for CIO Leadership
Named one of the most powerful women in healthcare IT by Health Data Management in 2018, Liz Johnson has experienced a lifetime’s worth of success and is always happy to share stories and insights from her many years leading change at Tenet Healthcare. As a lifetime member and volunteer to CHIME, Liz’s career grew alongside CHIME’s growth. It’s safe to say Liz is responsible for making a huge impact in CHIME even as she tackled her regular duties of chief information officer and later chief innovation officer. She retired this year and has been busier than ever as vice chair of the CHIME Public Policy Steering Committee, chair of the CHIME Education Foundation, a CHIME Innovation Advisory Board member and more.
Getting her start in healthcare as a nurse, Liz learned the clinical side of healthcare IT, and eventually was promoted to chief of nursing at Dallas-Fort Worth Medical Center. As she transitioned into operations and IT roles, she always kept an eye on the clinical side of healthcare. The promotion into an executive role was an important change for her, and reflecting on being a woman promoted into that type of role, Liz said, “I never thought that being a woman in an executive role was radically different, but I think it was an evolving recognition that regardless of your gender or cultural background, (our leaders were) looking for smart, energetic, practical people who can lead, and that your outside doesn’t matter.“
Part of her personal growth came from regular networking opportunities and relationship building, bringing her back to CHIME year after year. “Working with my peers and their CIO and chief innovation officers (and other healthcare IT leaders) that CHIME attracts helped keep me engaged with CHIME. (Annual meetings and events) gave us time to work together, to compare solutions, or work through problems and learn about where we need to be moving to in the future. There’s no other place I can get that kind of experience.”
Her experience as a seasoned CIO and her participation in the CHIME Public Policy Steering Committee over many years have helped not only shape her career and vision of the future, but policy as well. In an early 2018 interview with CHIME, Liz remarked that CIOs “must continue to stay in front of policymakers and help (policymakers) understand the value of data analytics and evidence-based care. We need to educate them about the consequences of decisions that raise barriers and impose regulatory burdens. We need to turn the process around: We show policymakers the data and processes that can save lives and then develop policy around THAT.”
In 2014, Liz was recognized for her contributions with the Federal Public Policy Award for CIO Leadership. She said of the early days leading the charge, “I think we began to recognize CHIME was a voice to be called upon, not just a voice that came to the Hill, but was called to the Hill. We began to formulate how to do that. How do we get enough of our membership in front of the right leaders?” She credits her colleagues and CHIME’s public policy team for the savvy networking and relationship building that helped make CHIME a trusted voice with Congress and federal agencies.
Liz identified the value that she and other CIOs bring to the table when they speak with lawmakers and regulators. “Our sweet spot was to find positions where anything that came out in a proposal or guidelines and find ways that put us front and center to help our industry move forward. Looking at the advocacy work we’re accomplishing today, it is a world of difference in the last five years.”
For Liz, CHIME afforded opportunities to advance the healthcare IT industry and to be recognized for her efforts. CHIME members have many chances to be recognized as Liz has been. Submitting a nomination for an award in the CHIME Awards Series is one great way to stand out among your peers. As CIO leaders, many members are doing great things to transform health and care that deserve recognition. I hope you’ll consider nominating yourself or a deserving peer for one of CHIME’s many award categories. You can read more about them here.
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