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School of Medicine names new chief information officer

Maria Russo will oversee information technology needs related to clinical services

by Diane Duke WilliamsApril 23, 2019

Matt Miller

Maria Russo, an expert in health-care-focused information technology, has been named chief information officer at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. She will begin in her new role May 1.

In the newly created position, Russo will oversee information technology (IT) needs of the School of Medicine, particularly those related to the medical school’s clinical practice. Russo also will serve as the university’s assistant vice chancellor and deputy university chief information officer.

Russo currently is the executive director for Systems Integration in Kaiser Permanente’s Washington Region. She also leads a team that supports the hospital and health plan’s electronic medical records in Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California region.

During the past 20 years, Russo has worked as a consultant in the health-care industry and as an executive in health-care IT for several large health systems. Her appointment was announced by Paul J. Scheel, MD, associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs at the School of Medicine and CEO of Washington University physicians, the school’s faculty practice plan.

“I am delighted to welcome Maria Russo to Washington University School of Medicine,” Scheel said. “She has a broad range of experience and a reputation as an excellent leader. She will be a great asset to the university and will accelerate the development of technology systems and services that will protect and secure our clinical activities.”

Russo also will work closely with Chris Kielt, the university’s vice chancellor and chief information officer.

In this new role, Russo will plan and implement clinical practice initiatives, including electronic medical record software, across the faculty practice plan. She also will oversee IT service delivery in the academic, clinical and business units at the School of Medicine; will lead the development of an enterprise-based approach to support growing research computing needs of faculty and students; and will work closely with BJC HealthCare’s IT department on various projects.

In a previous chief information role, Russo restructured an outsourcing arrangement for IT services that resulted in savings of more than $25 million; aligned IT functions to better support care delivery; and established a physicians council to identify opportunities and resolve issues involving information technology.

In her role at Kaiser Permanente, Russo has led the support team for electronic medical records, facilitated the development of a regional strategic road map, and assisted in integrating a new region within the Kaiser organization.

Before joining Kaiser Permanente, Russo served as chief information officer and senior vice president of Tanner Health System in Carrollton, Ga. She also was chief information officer and vice president of Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s Health Care (now KentuckyOne Health) in Louisville, Ky.

“The health-care industry is continually evolving,” Russo said. “Increasingly, information technology is playing a critical role in this evolution. Being able to contribute to an organization that is educating our future health-care innovators, while helping to improve the health of the St. Louis community, will be both exciting and challenging. I am very pleased to be joining Washington University School of Medicine.”

Russo earned a bachelor’s degree in management information systems from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 1,500 faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is a leader in medical research, teaching and patient care, ranking among the top 10 medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.