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In Focus: Chris Tomlinson

By John Wallace

Diversity is more than a hot topic for 2019-2020 AHRA President Chris Tomlinson, CRA, FAHRA, who is also enterprise vice president, radiology, clinical lab and pathology, emergency and hospital medicine service lines at Jefferson Health in Philadelphia.

“I chose diversity and inclusion as my leadership platform for my presidency last summer,” Tomlinson reflects. “We noticed there wasn’t the same ratio of diverse leaders in the association as well as leadership positions in the industry versus our technical ranks which is the comparative ratio we look for.”

He helped spearhead the work AHRA undertook to understand the issue within the association and the industry.

“We had a number of talks on this at the annual meeting culminating in a keynote from one of the experts on unconscious bias, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, as well as a report out from our Diversity and Inclusion Task Force,” Tomlinson shares.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, AHRA has had challenges to overcome in 2020.

“This has been a difficult year for the AHRA as we were not able to deliver content through one of our channels; in-person meetings,” Tomlinson says. “We did lean into our digital delivery models and I am proud to say that our resources were used extensively through the COVID-19 crisis; we saw some of the highest utilization rates ever for the AHRA’s COVID resources.”

Addressing challenging topics is nothing new for Tomlinson. He thinks big and strives for success, but he is not afraid to fail.

When asked to describe how he approaches leadership, Tomlinson says, “I value new ideas and risk taking to implement innovative concepts. I encourage my team to fail as you are not being bold if you never fail. I encourage my team to do the right thing and use their moral compass to guide them.”

His leadership style is a direct reflection of the leaders who provided guidance and advice to him through the years.

“My mentors taught me to be bold and take professional risks in order to grow; that you will learn the most when you are uncomfortable and faced with a project you don’t have background on and need to figure out the path to success,” he shares. “One of my favorite management authors is Russell Ackoff who taught systems and organization theory which I think is largely underappreciated in the field. I had the honor to meet him before he passed.”

Tomlinson is also honored to serve others as they navigate their careers.

“I am a mentor to a number of folks in the imaging industry. I think there is no greater honor than to help someone develop and meet their full potential,” he says.

A career in health care and imaging became a reality for Tomlinson after a successful stint as a consultant with Arthur Andersen Business Consulting.

“I was recruited straight from college to this big five consulting firm’s health care practice area. After only two years, I received a promotion to senior consultant for my continuous demonstration of excellence in project management, client relations and solution development,” according to Tomlinson’s LinkedIn profile.

His key projects as a consultant included management of 30-hospital ERP-supply chain installations at national and regional levels.

After four years with Arthur Andersen Business Consulting, Tomlinson joined the staff at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) as senior client solutions executive, information services department. After five years in that role, Tomlinson became CHOP’s senior director, radiology and executive director, radiology associates.

In 2017, Tomlinson moved to his current role as enterprise vice president, radiology, clinical lab and pathology, emergency and hospital medicine service lines at Jefferson Health.

“My job allows me to help design a large health system and care delivery model made up of a number of acquisitions of smaller health systems,” Tomlinson explains. “To be able to deliver care at scale is the model for an efficient and cost-effective future where health care costs come under control.”

When asked about his greatest professional accomplishment, Tomlinson says “advancing industry concepts around enterprise imaging concepts, VNAs and hospital-practice alignments.”

Tomlinson said he expects the COVID-19 pandemic to have a lasting impression on diagnostic imaging and health care delivery in the United States.

“I think there will be more patient interaction and customer intimacy coming out of the COVID crisis. Imaging will need to move toward retail interactions with patients as well as mobile platforms to further increase patient satisfaction and service recovery,” Tomlinson says. “I think consolidation will continue and innovation in modality-based AI and radiologist reading algorithms (radiologist work distribution) will make great strides.”

Away from work, Tomlinson and his wife, Vanessa, recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. The couple has two sons, Zachary and Shane, a dog and a pet rabbit.

In Focus Nomination

  • The In Focus feature shines a spotlight on radiology and imaging directors from throughout the nation. We share information about their education and career with the readers of ICE. The article serves as a look at leaders who are making a positive impact and who serve as role models and mentors in the field.
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