CIO Corner


As I reflect on my six and one-half years at Houston Methodist, I am proud of what we’ve accomplished together. Our team of dedicated IT professionals has delivered an outstanding set of technology solutions, preparing Houston Methodist for a very solid future.

After careful deliberation, I’ve made a difficult decision to leave my position as CIO and take a position closer to family in Ohio. Our family relocated from Cleveland to Houston in 2011, and we’ve decided to move back to Ohio where our children can enjoy our extended family and live in a place we consider home.

During my time at Houston Methodist, our vision for technology has centered on making it easier. We’ve focused on designing solutions that are simple, intuitive and mobile.

Robert K. Eardley, Chief Information Officer

The way we were.

Thinking back on our accomplishments over the past years, it gives some perspective to reflect back to 2011, the year I arrived at Houston Methodist.

Globally, the year saw the rise of political unrest manifested in the Arab Spring, the end of the hunt for Osama bin Laden, a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan and the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Back home, NASA launched its final shuttle mission, Texas endured an unprecedented drought and the Houston Texans signed first-round draft pick J. J. Watt. In technology, 2011 introduced us to Siri and Uber, and we said goodbye to Steve Jobs.

At Houston Methodist, our five hospitals functioned as stand-alone entities that excelled individually, yet didn’t bear the fruits of systemness.

Transitioning from 30-year-old systems.

During my tenure at Houston Methodist, our IT efforts centered around system integration.

With MARS, we replaced paper processes and hand-keyed data entry with electronic automation. This required substituting 30-year-old, varied technologies and processes at each hospital with one single solution.

Another transition from an outdated system was ICD-10 adoption. In 2015, we joined all healthcare organizations nationwide in complying with the federal mandate to transition from ICD-9, the clinical documentation system last updated in the 1980s.

Building on accomplishments.

During the past three years, we’ve ushered Houston Methodist into the Epic era of integrated electronic health records.

I am proud to say we achieved the “Best Epic Implementation Ever!” That’s in large part due to our talented IT team, and equally importantly, the unwavering commitment of our executive leadership and strong partnership with our physicians and operational owners.

We’ve continued building on our successes, layering technology solutions onto a solid foundation. Some of our accomplishments have high visibility, like Epic, MARS and ICD-10.

Others take place behind the scenes with little fanfare, forming the backbone of the organization with things we often take for granted: networks, applications, laptops, docking stations, even the phones at your desk and TVs in waiting rooms. MRIs, surgical monitoring, clinical imaging and patient bed-tracking are a few of the myriad of computer systems that keep us viable in the healing business.

Enhancing safety, quality, service and innovation.

Many of the technologies we’ve implemented make it easier for patients to become more proactive in their health care.

MyChart gives patients one-stop-shopping for scheduling appointments, seeing lab results, reviewing discharge instructions and paying their bill online. Fitbit tracks activity that encourages healthy lifestyle choices. Telemedicine lets patients have doctors’ appointments at home. Artificial intelligence with a virtual nurse avatar allows home monitoring for chronic illnesses like congestive heart failure.

Leaving it in good hands.

One of the things I have enjoyed most about IT at Houston Methodist is deploying technology that helps our clinicians improve patient care.

During my tenure here, we’ve built a strong foundation of clinical and business systems, and layered technologies on that bulwark. We’ve strengthened our ability to collaborate with other health organizations to provide safe, appropriate, timely and cost-effective care for our patients.

Our teams of IT professionals have delivered on the mission of unparalleled safety, quality, service and innovation. We’ve accomplished a great deal together, including implementing systems that improve patient access, clinical outcomes, physician productivity, organizational operations and population health.

There is a phenomenal leadership team here, and you can be confident they will lead the organization successfully into the future. I expect to see many wonderful innovations from Houston Methodist in the coming years.