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Transforming Big Healthcare: One CIO’s Journey


During the webinar “Redefining the CIO: Envisioning and Enabling the Next Generation Enterprise” with CIO’s Patrick O’Hare of Spectrum Health and Tony McGivern of FICO, I shared several data points highlighting the fact that CEOs are concerned about the pace of technology advancement, but aren’t necessarily confident their IT function is up to the task of coping with the change. In fact, both line-of-business leaders and CIOs agree that CIOs are often an obstacle to business execution.

As CEOs wrestle with transforming their organizations to become more agile and resilient in the face of increased complexity, CIOs have a tremendous opportunity to transform the IT function from barrier to pioneer.

Wrestling with the conflicting requirements of managing infrastructure, and leading the way into a more technologically advanced world is a challenge that CIOs need to overcome.


While Tony McGivern shared his view from within a technology company, (FICO) Patrick O’Hare’s experience is quite different. O’Hare highlighted the fact that the majority of legacy providers in the healthcare industry only reluctantly began to pursue technology innovation in the last few years, motivated mostly by financial incentives and government mandates.

Speaking broadly about the industry, O’Hare referenced observations about how many CEOs hadn’t been shy about their intention to ride “the fee for service horse” as long as it would go – essentially profiting from a proven model until there’s no more profit left. However, while the old horse is being ridden into the ground, the pursuit towards personalized medicine is simultaneously accelerating. Need proof? President Obama mentioned a significant investment in personalized medicine in his recent state of the union address.

Reconciling these profitable, but soon-to-be-obsolete models and rapid gains in medical technology is no small task. Companies that have operated at a profit in a slow changing but relatively persistent landscape for decades are now vulnerable to tectonic shifts that may not even be on their radar. .

As the landscape becomes more complex and interconnected, leadership and strategy decisions can be more challenging, and must be framed (at least partially) through a different lens. Healthcare (and other industries) must be prepared to upgrade its models to adapt to and adopt these upcoming technology breakthroughs.


While the pursuit of personalized medicine might be constrained to healthcare, an increased focus on personalization and a better customer experience is seemingly everywhere, especially in B2C industries like retail and financial services.

However, being able to respond more dynamically to customer needs requires a mix of better automation and the ability to allow teams to solve and innovate on the fly.

O’Hare highlighted that healthcare doesn’t have many of the challenges that other industries have from a collaboration culture perspective, as healthcare is collaborative by nature. Still, having the tools in place to collaborate most effectively was critical. With Jive, Spectrum Health implemented a solution that exposed knowledge, made that knowledge searchable, and encouraged people to “work out loud” to digitally speed collaborative problem solving.


O’Hare emphasized that doing a great job at the un-sexy work earns IT a seat at the table. At the same time, however, he also stressed the importance of always having a business conversation first and a technology conversation second.  He shared that only 20% of his time is spent ensuring operations and incremental upgrade projects are going well. The balance of his time is spent conceptualizing how to move the organization forward by adopting new technology, and/or how the creation of new business lines might be realized through M&A activity or leveraging new technology.

This is a tension that IT leaders are undoubtedly wrestling with today. Their choices related to allocation of time and resources will seemingly have a significant impact on the future of their careers and their organizations.


CIOs Must Align Towards the Future


In my e-Book “ Envisioning and Enabling the Next Generation Enterprise”, I highlight seven keys for CIOs to increase their impact.

  1. Align Towards the Future
  2. Think Networks and Platforms
  3. Forge Deeper Lines of Business Alliances
  4. Educate and Evangelize
  5. Spark Creativity and Imagination
  6. Envision and Enable
  7. Craft New Value Propositions

In the coming weeks, we’ll be exploring each of the seven keys in more detail in this blog series. Listen to the complete webinar or download a copy of the e-Book here.


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