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Cancer Treatment Centers of America CIO: Passion for IT began at home

Not everyone can pinpoint the start of one's career. For Kristin Darby, CIO at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) and a panelist at last month's MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, her passion for IT was sparked at home -- in the family business. When she wasn't attending school, she was busy working for her family's automation and lighting design business, which included software development. Before settling into IT, however, she pursued accounting. The work eventually led her to Fresenius Medical Care, where she rediscovered her passion for IT -- in particular, the application of technology to improve lives. After only two years there, she was appointed national IT director, where she managed IT for more than 2,000 Fresenius outpatient medical facilities across 300 locations.

Before being named CIO at CTCA in April, she served as CIO and VP for Tenet Healthcare's Northeast region, and before that was a CIO at the Harvard Medical Institutions. In this SearchCIO video, Darby took a break from the hubbub to sit down with associate editor Emily McLaughlin and recount her journey to the CIO role.

I wanted to start off with a question about how you got to be CIO. What sparked your interest in IT?

Kristin Darby: I think my original interest was sparked just growing up. My family had a family business that was focused predominantly on lighting design in the construction industry, and we got into the home automation business fairly early. So, growing up, I worked after school, did a lot of home automation work and got involved in a development company -- software development [company] that we founded that focused on lighting design. And so that was really the early spark for information technology. And I resisted a little and went into the accounting field initially, in the beginning parts of my career, but always in the healthcare setting.

So, I worked for a CPA [certified public accounting] firm that was focused on physician practice management, and then joined Fresenius Medical Care, where I spent 12 years, but started on accounting, and that's where I did the transition into IT. It's been a great journey.

I have been in healthcare for the last 20 years, and the evolution has really come from both the ambulatory and the healthcare provider side. About seven years ago, I made the transition into the CIO role at another organization and really found the passion for the work that I do and the connection with the patient.

[Health IT] is probably one of the few industries where you get to see the work that you actually innovate and create being used in a manner that really impacts people's lives. I find that very rewarding for both me and my teams.

Let us know what you think of this story; email Emily McLaughlin, associate editor.

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