Phoenix Children’s Hospital CIO Named CHIME Innovator of the Year

PHOENIX, AZ, November 2, 2016 – Sometimes seemingly simple solutions can yield huge results. Instead of spending millions of dollars on a patient education and entertainment system, Phoenix Children’s Hospital moved to put customizable iPads in patient rooms, allowing patients and their parents to access a host of services, including clinical results, discharge instructions, educational resources about their treatment and more. One-time costs for the initiative were covered by a grant from the James M. Cox Foundation, allowing the hospital to shift resources to other areas. Part of the hospital’s Connected Patient initiative, the iPad experience has been so successful that it is now being commercialized for other hospitals.

Innovations like this are the direct result of a Lean initiative led by Phoenix Children’s Hospital Chief Information Officer David Higginson. Yielding significant cost savings, as well as operational and patient experience improvements, the Lean initiative earned Higginson the College of Healthcare Information Management Executive’s (CHIME) 2016 Innovator of the Year Award. Higginson accepted the award today at the CHIME16 Fall CIO Forum.

“When you are faced with the choice of building a new emergency department to replace one that is seeing three times the number of patients it was built for, or spending $100 million on a piece of software, the answer seems obvious – find a way to do the system for a reasonable amount and leave the capital for the direct needs of the patients and families we serve,” Higginson said. “Our success is simple. We keep the patients highest need first and foremost and that keeps us motivated to negotiate better deals on what we have to buy, or find creative ways to accomplish a better result using different products and tools.”

That is just what Higginson and his team have done. For instance, every IT software and services contract has been renegotiated or switched to a lower-price vendor, leading to $4.5 million in annual savings when compared to 2011 contract costs. Phoenix Children’s also built a new enterprise data warehouse, allowing 300 daily users to get real-time data from 60 different IT systems. And, the hospital recently finished an 18-month implementation of an ambulatory EHR, which has helped a 30 percent improvement in patient throughput at some clinics. Higginson also led a process improvement team that redesigned workflows, saving $2 million per year.

“Innovation takes many forms,” said CHIME President and CEO Russell Branzell. “It isn’t always about shiny new gadgets. As David has shown, innovative leadership is about inspiring the best in your staff, encouraging creative solutions and continually pushing forward to do what is right for patients.”

The Lean philosophy, Higginson added, has allowed Phoenix Children’s to build a culture where staff in the IT department consider themselves stewards of the organization’s resources and understand IT’s impact on both clinical and business operations.

“We empower people to find and execute opportunities to improve value to our patients wherever they find them,” Higginson said. “I hope this mindset is what is going to help IT contribute to better value healthcare for our patients and families.”

To learn more about the CHIME Innovator of the Year Award, click here.

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is an executive organization dedicated to serving chief information officers and other senior healthcare IT leaders. With nearly 2,000 CIO members and over 150 healthcare IT vendors and professional services firms, CHIME provides a highly interactive, trusted environment enabling senior professional and industry leaders to collaborate; exchange best practices; address professional development needs; and advocate the effective use of information management to improve the health and healthcare in the communities they serve. For more information, please visit

Matthew Weinstock
Director of Communications and Public Relations, CHIME
[email protected]