by Sean Ruck
, Contributing Editor | February 08, 2019
From the January/February issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
With the annual HIMSS Conference and Exhibition fast approaching, it’s time for our yearly interview with society leadership.
This year, chair Christopher Ross provided the answers to our questions, to paint a picture of how he came to lead HIMSS this year, some of the hot topics on the minds of members, and his take on a few other topics of note.
HCB News: What inspired you to follow a career in healthcare?
Honestly, healthcare was kind of my midlife crisis. When I was 43 a friend recruited me to work at UnitedHealth Group. I had previously been a congressional aide, a CFO, and a tech entrepreneur, and he kind of had to twist my arm. Then, unexpectedly, the opportunity to be CIO of the behavioral health division at UnitedHealth became available. This was of great personal interest to me, so I leapt at the opportunity.
I feel truly blessed by that moment of serendipity. Healing people and improving life is one of humankind’s great achievements and struggles. I have no aptitude or capability whatsoever to be a clinician, and I am in awe of them. But I can serve in a supporting role as a health IT professional, promoting better health through information and technology.
HCB News: How long have you been a member of HIMSS and why did you join?
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I joined in 2006, when I became CIO for MinuteClinic. I was a healthcare newbie, and knew nothing about the provider side of healthcare. I thought HIMSS would be a great way to learn from people who actually knew something; it’s turned out to be one of the best resources I’ve found for navigating this complex and incredibly important industry.
HCB News: What inspired you to become a leader in the association?
I think I approached it with the idea that healthcare is a community and not the endeavor of one institution at a time. So since I started in healthcare, I have been participating in industry events and activities. That led me to the opportunity to be a candidate for the board of HIMSS
HCB News: Was there anything surprising to you when it came time to lead the society?
I think what didn’t surprise was the depth and commitment of the individual members and chapters. HIMSS is a membership organization and really thrives on the commitment of tens of thousands of professionals who contribute.
I think the thing that surprised me was the degree to which there was common interest in health IT around the globe. And HIMSS has a real opportunity to help extend that cooperation between health systems around the world. There’s a lot we can learn from each other and there are lots of ways we can advance if we work together.