At the Helm

When pursuing our purpose helps you achieve yours

by Robert W. Musslewhite

Today is Veterans Day, and I can't think of a better time to pause in gratitude to those who serve our nation—and in this case especially, those who serve our nation's patients.

It's our honor to support organizations with a mission above commerce, such as health systems and universities. And we nurture the same service orientation in our staff, hiring individuals attuned to our members' mandates and empowering employees to pursue their purpose.

This summer, I shared a few examples of the inspiring things that happen when we partner with our member organizations to use best practices to their fullest. Continuing that discussion, I want to tell you about Edward Marx (incidentally, an Army veteran and the son of one, too) and what his leadership has meant for NYC Health + Hospitals.

Heeding the call

Ed is an executive vice president on our Advisory Board Consulting team, currently serving as interim CIO at NYC Health + Hospitals, the nation's largest public health system. Ed is leading NYC Health + Hospitals' electronic health record implementation, bringing with him best practices for EHR optimization, for building a leadership team, and for leveraging technology to impact business and clinical outcomes.

Ed's career has run the gamut from combat medic in the Army Reserve to chief information officer for small hospitals, large health systems, non-profit organizations, and academic centers. In 2013, he was named the CIO of the Year by CHIME and HIMSS.

But less than two years ago, Ed wasn't in New York City. He was seven years into a much-lauded tenure as CIO of Texas Health Resources, one of the largest health systems in the country. Then he got a call: NYC Health + Hospitals needed help.

Its homegrown electronic medical records system was inadequate—lacking, for instance, electronic records for behavioral or mental health—and the health system wanted to get a new EHR up and running as soon as possible. It was a serious investment, a critical part of the health system’s transformation effort—and Ed's answer was an unequivocal "yes."

For Ed, this wasn't just the chance to focus for the first time on public health; it was the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream: to do something for New York, the city that had given his family so much.

Ed's dad, Herb Marx, is a Holocaust survivor, who by the time he was 10, had lost his mother and the rest of his family in concentration camps. After being shepherded to Switzerland by the French Resistance, he was eventually brought to post-war NYC as a teen and lived with family in New Jersey, visiting the city as often as possible. New York fascinated him, embraced him, and gave him a second chance at life.

Determined to give back, Herb joined the Army and started a family. He was stationed many places but never back in New York, despite feeling indebted to the city. In the call from NYC Health + Hospitals, which provides care to the city's underserved, Ed found a chance to give back on his dad's behalf.

Making EHR work for NYC Health + Hospitals

It has been more than a year since Ed started working with NYC Health + Hospitals, and the Epic implementation is well underway.

Despite tremendous complexity—the very reason NYC Health + Hospitals sought the expertise of an external partner—including a significant number of care locations across New York City and the melding of disparate technology products, Ed and his team succeeded in bringing NYC Health + Hospitals to the next level and completed the first of several go-live events on April 1.

NYC Health + Hospitals has already seen a reduction in care variation, along with the resulting cost savings and improved patient safety for its community. Herb couldn't be prouder—and we're thrilled to have Ed partnering with NYC Health + Hospitals in service to the people of New York.

Stay tuned for a closer look at this inspiring journey

As you might guess, there's far more to this story, and we're excited to share it with you in the coming weeks through a series of short videos. You'll get a look at how we're making best practices work for NYC Health + Hospitals and the patients it serves, hear directly from Herb and Ed about their path from Europe’s concentration camps to modern-day New York City, and see the outsized impact we all can have when our passions and work collide.

This is the second installment in an ongoing series about the ways you are leading your organizations toward best practices (read the first post here). I'll look forward to sharing more of these inspiring stories on At the Helm in the coming months. Make sure you've subscribed so you don't miss this look at the best practices that are working for you and your peers.

The road to the largest public health EHR implementation

Hear Edward Marx, NYC Health + Hospitals' interim CIO, along with Advisory Board's Preston Raulerson, discuss how NYC Health + Hospitals achieved the largest EHR implementation in the history of municipal health care.

Watch now