The components of an elite health IT team from UC Health CIO Tom Andriola

Tom Andriola is vice president and CIO of University of California System and CIO of UC Health in Oakland, Calif.

He also serves as advisor at the California Institute for Telecommunications & Information Technology as well as EIR of the Center for Digital Health Innovation at UCSF. Here, Mr. Andriola discusses how to build a strong health IT team.

Question: What has been your No. 1 priority in building a strong IT team?

Tom Andriola: Priority No. 1 is in building the right culture and environment for our people to thrive in. Priority No. 2 is in investing into building our leadership competencies that make our people strong assets to the organization. These competencies allow them to operate at a high level, simplify today’s business complexity for their teams, demonstrate enterprise-thinking and not get myopically focused on technology, play well on teams and prioritize the development of talent. One thing we have done to accelerate our efforts in this area is develop our own leadership academy with the help of our business school faculty.

Q: What qualities do you look for when hiring new team members? What does the ideal candidate’s background and experience look like?

TA: When we do look outside the organization to augment our teams, it is with the intention of complementing our required leadership capabilities. We seek leaders with not just a strong set of competencies and knowledge of the healthcare environment, but also possessing emotional intelligence. Today’s IT organizations require an equal balance of technical and soft skills. The more senior the role, the more the soft skills become critical for effectiveness in helping the organization leverage technology and adapt the changing healthcare environment.

Q: How do you keep your best team members engaged?

TA: Engagement starts with being clear on the goals and expectations for the organization. Beyond that, it’s demonstrating that we have a high level of confidence and trust in our people, and we let them do their jobs and trust their judgment. I’m a strong proponent of Daniel Pink’s work — passion, mastery and autonomy. People want meaning in their work and know that they’ll be set up to succeed.

Q: What are you doing to compete with other healthcare organizations and IT companies to attract and retain the top talent?

TA: There will always be competition for the best talent. However, the key is in creating the right type of environment and having a reputation for excellence and growth opportunity. It is a competitive talent landscape; we feel like our approach is not only yielding positive results but also positions us to evolve as does the healthcare environment.

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