Like many in the field of health information technology, Reliance eHealth Collaborative’s new executive director found his way to Health Information Technology (HIT) “completely by accident.”

After graduating from University of Nevada – Las Vegas, Erick Maddox went into Behavioral Health as a recreational therapist and worked with kids who had been victims of abuse or had addiction issues.  His role at St. Jude’s Ranch for Children in Boulder City, NV soon expanded beyond clinical care to operational matters, including information technology and financial management.

Now, nearly twenty years after his graduation, Maddox moved to Medford in January, bringing his expertise and experience to lead Reliance during a period of tremendous transformation and growth.  The prospect of leading this organization appealed to Maddox because of Reliance’s history and background, as well as how it operates, noting, “The approach and understanding of HIE all fit with the way I think about HIE.”

Maddox’s rich background and experience explains why.

In 2010, with the federal Recovery Act’s implementation of the EHR roll out, his career track shifted in the direction of HIT when he left St. Jude’s and was hired at HealthInsight as HIT Project Coordinator, where he worked on the ONC Regional Extension Center program and was responsible for providing technical assistance to physician offices to support their adoption of Electronic Health Record (EHR) and their achievement of Meaningful Use. He also supported population health improvement work by assisting physicians in the reporting of key Clinical Quality Measures designated by CMS.

After a year, he was promoted to HIT Manager at HealthInsight, where he oversaw the day-to-day activities of Nevada Health IT Regional Extension Center. Three years later he became HealthInsight’s Director of Health Information Exchange, managing the day-to-day operations of HealtHIE Nevada, the community-based Health Information Exchange (HIE) serving the entire state.

During his tenure he fostered the Health Information Exchange business growth from a negative financial position to annual surpluses while leading the migration of the HIE technology infrastructure and increasing adoption of the HIE service throughout Nevada.

“We had some really great success with image exchange and emergency department deployments of HIE,” Maddox said, citing the benefits as a driver for adoption.  Following HIE deployment at one organization Maddox learned from the Emergency Room (ER) director that staff were able to identify one of the ER’s frequent patients had 42 CAT scans within two years.  The subsequent HIE deployment helped to prevent radiation exposure from too many tests and enabled clinical staff to more easily identify opioid addiction potential.

Maddox also witnessed and navigated many regional challenges, which will benefit Reliance as the organization continues to grow and expand its service area.

“In Nevada I had the opportunity to experience the division between the northern and southern portion of state, as there were different dynamics, approaches and cultures in health care systems, yet we found ways to bring together a statewide system,” he said.

“We also bridged the gaps between working with rural populations versus those living in population centers, and we could find solutions that improved patient care despite the differences,” he said.

Ultimately, Maddox and his team were able to find common ground to drive towards a statewide strategy.  His ability to bridge gaps and work together with multiple stakeholders will help Reliance continue to meet its mission: To facilitate patient-centered care through a community-driven and clinician led collaboration that promotes better health and provides value through secure and trusted information sharing.