From CIO to chief digital officer: Why Memorial Healthcare's Jeffrey Sturman is making the shift 

As it continues to accelerate digital transformation and consumerism efforts, Memorial Healthcare System is restructuring several leadership positions, including CIO, to better support its patient engagement and IT agendas. 

The Hollywood, Fla.-based health system announced several leadership changes earlier this month, including the creation of a chief transformation officer and chief strategy officer. Along with the restructuring was Jeffrey Sturman's promotion from CIO to chief digital officer, a move Memorial Healthcare made to expand its digital innovation and consumerism approaches.  

Memorial Healthcare tapped a third-party consultant about six months ago to assist with its leadership realignment, Mr. Sturman told Becker's Hospital Review. The creation of the chief digital officer, chief strategy officer and chief transformation officer titles is the "three-legged stool" or group of leaders focused on transforming care delivery and pushing a consumer-centric focus for patient populations and the community. 

Under the realignment, Mr. Sturman now reports directly to Memorial Healthcare System President and CEO Aurelio Fernandez. During his time as CIO, he reported to the chief administrative officer, whose title was revamped to chief strategic officer. The health system hopes the shift will better "align strategy, innovation and new ways to effect the care continuum," Mr. Sturman said, adding that his role has expanded to now overseeing IT, clinical engineering and biomed, as well as spearheading solutions to fix the current healthcare access issues. 

"This includes how we manage the intake and access functions of our consumers, and how we connect with them in the most effective, and frankly the easiest, way," he said. "I've been charged with 'OK Jeff, let's expand your role and give you the CDO title because it's a more expansive perspective of interacting with not just the technology but how you're helping to deliver care and being part of that care team in new ways." 

For Mr. Sturman, the shift from CIO to CDO has added responsibilities, including managing all the health system's call centers, for which he is working to create a new organizational structure for employees to consolidate and standardize the process for patients. He is also overseeing the development of the vice president of digital innovation officer, who will oversee Memorial Healthcare's focus on virtual health and remote patient monitoring with the potential addition of a command center to manage patient flow between its hospitals. 

"I view my job as being not all that different from one of our CEOs of the hospital, except I don't have bricks and mortar I'm responsible for," he said. "I have the ability to jump over bricks and mortar and look at ways to deliver care to a group of patients through more modern means like telehealth, RPM and hospital-at-home environments." 

Future of the CIO role 

While Mr. Sturman is moving beyond the CIO title, he noted that many other hospital and health system colleagues' roles have evolved into the chief digital information officer, something he intentionally avoided because of his system's size and complexity. 

"I think our healthcare system is big and complex and requires us to evolve the role of the CIO, or at least for me, evolve this role to become the chief digital officer," he said. "Although I think I own IT and all the other digital and consumerism aspects, I think it's too much for one person to provide an appropriate level of leadership. I can provide it at a high level strategy; operationally, I'm running both of those functions, but I'm building out the digital functions while I'm managing the IT functions." 

Mr. Sturman said he expects in one to two years Memorial Healthcare will bring on a new CIO that will report to him. For now, he is focused on continuing to move the needle from an IT perspective, which includes server and network oversight in addition to applications, footprint and cloud, and mobile strategies. 

"A lot of organizations that I talked to recently of our size and bigger will see that both the CIO and CDO roles are important, and many times the CIO will report to the chief digital officer, because I think it's a broader, strategic perspective," Mr. Sturman said. "But it's all about the right person and about how organizations are defining things." 

Memorial Healthcare System comprises six hospitals and is home to more than 14,000 employees. 

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