How UPMC's CIO is leading his health IT team to success

Pittsburgh-based UPMC named Ed McCallister senior vice president and CIO in 2014. Since then, he has made various technology and infrastructure advancements within the health system.

As CIO, Mr. McCallister manages a team of more than 1,500 professionals within the information services division. Below, Mr. McCallister describes what it takes for a health IT team to succeed and more.

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length:

Question: What does every hospital IT team need in order to succeed?

Ed McCallister: It is critical to me that our team demonstrate a genuine passion for UPMC’s mission of delivering life-changing medicine. In addition to strong technical skills, there must be a commitment and passion for improving the lives of our patients and members through the use of technology. Our patients are at the center of the work that we do every day, and while technology is of extreme importance, we fall short unless it is applied with a dedication to our patients in mind.

Q: What's a simple piece of technology, device or system that goes overlooked at hospitals and health systems?

EM: Although not necessarily “simple,” what immediately comes to my mind would be our core network. It is the foundational element that enables all of the technologies and services that power UPMC’s operations. The network is our backbone. While it may not always be front of mind to our end users, our IT Infrastructure team is responsible for supporting a network that enables UPMC to deliver care at 40-plus hospitals and 700-plus outpatient sites for 3.5-plus million health plan members and patients.

Q: If you could get advice/pick the brain of anyone in the healthcare or technology sector, who would it be? 

EM: I am fortunate to work with brilliant people every day in my role at UPMC, and I have the opportunity to partner with the greatest leaders and clinical minds in healthcare. In the technology sector, it has to be the late Bill Campbell, a Silicon Valley legend. Mr. Campbell's philosophy and approach are captured in the recently launched New York Times bestseller book Trillion Dollar CoachMr. Campbell’s life and his views on leadership and coaching have forever impacted the technology industry. I try to exemplify his teachings every day in my interactions with my UPMC IT team and colleagues.

More articles on health IT:
How 4 health IT leaders balance strategy with execution
How technology can help hospitals support population health
7 alerts, tools that hospitals are adding to their EHRs

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