How Stanford stays competitive for IT talent

One of the top priorities for Michael Pfeffer, MD, as CIO of Stanford Health Care, is figuring out how to recruit and retain top talent. Stanford is in the heart of Silicon Valley, and competition is fierce.

Companies like Apple, Google and Meta can pay top dollar and roll out the red carpet for talented data scientists, computer engineers, artificial intelligence specialists, cybersecurity specialists and more. Health systems, including Stanford, are relying on the unique mission of healthcare organizations and great culture to recruit new talent as they move into more complex and transformative spaces.

"IT talent in healthcare is so critical," Dr. Pfeffer said during an interview for the "Becker's Digital Health + Health IT" podcast. "It's the people that really make all of this happen, not so much the technology, so making sure we have an incredible place to work for our IT professionals is top of mind for me."

Dr. Pfeffer said he makes sure all Stanford IT professionals feel connected to the system's mission of patient care, research and education. Team members participate in enabling research projects and sometimes even become part of the actual publication. They work closely with principal investigators and faculty on the research side.

The IT team also works with the university faculty in the training process for medical students, residents and nurses, as educational technology plays a big role in their training.

Finally, Dr. Pfeffer said all IT team members are part of creating the organizational culture to drive strategies and professional development.

"We have a significant focus on equity, diversity and inclusion as well within the IT organization, and that is absolutely necessary to promote health equity," said Dr. Pfeffer. "The technologies we build have to have that lens, otherwise we're not going to be thinking about how technology impacts health equity."

Dr. Pfeffer said he's excited about the future of enabling healthcare with technology and wants to bring in more technologists who are excited about the system's mission as well. But that won't be easy, as tech talent is in demand in every industry.

"We have to retain and continue to track in this very competitive space," said Dr. Pfeffer.

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