Liz Johnson Gets Real About Driving Change

As Chief Innovation officer for Tenet Health, Liz Johnson believes that being able to tell your story is an essential skill in leadership. For her, this means going beyond the “geek speak” and using real experiences to talk about the importance of affecting change.

“CIOs have emerged as critical leaders in our organizations because they’ve been able to translate the use of technology and data into enabling the mission and vision of the organization,” Johson said in an interview. “They’ve become critical players, creating toolkits and leveraging technology to determine where data can take us.”

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Johnson works in an industry that intersects between the fast-paced field of information technology and the ever-cautious, conservative healthcare industry. It presents a unique challenge for CIOs who are tasked with both winning hearts and minds and implementing changes necessary to stay competitive.

She points to the long process of translating evidence-based research into clinical practice – saying it can take close to two decades. “We’ve become very comfortable letting things run that very long-time cycle, and if you think about how fast technology is changing… we need change to happen closer to real-time,” Johnson stated.

Johnson graduated for the University of Texas in Arlington with a Master’s of Science in Nursing in 1988. She has worked with Tenet for the majority of her career and in her current role, provides the strategic vision and tactical planning for all clinical, patient management, imaging and supply chain systems for all of Tenet’s acute care hospitals. As a forerunner in nursing and information processing industries, she spearheaded the most assertive and successful implementation of an EHR system in the country.

Johnson is passionate about her work and has played an integral role in pushing the boundaries of her profession. She’s been honing her craft since her student days and while she’s moved up in her career, she remains committed to her cause. ”I’ve been involved in advocacy since I was in nursing school 40 years ago when I spoke about the role of a nurse, and that led to going to the Hill and talking to Congress,” she recalled.

“You look at the world you’re in and you translate it into why we want or don’t want something to happen in legislation, in Senate, or with our state and federal representatives – even the regulatory bodies or associations for clinical areas like nursing or surgeons. You need to speak your voice.”

As a leading industry influencer, she continues to engage in the conversation on health information technology and provides guidance on future direction. The CIO was recently recognized as a Lifetime Member of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). She has also been named as one of Becker Hospital Review’s “113 Hospital & Health System CIOs to Know 2017” and Health Data Management’s “20 people to watch in IT healthcare in 2017”.