'We need to think big, start small and move fast': Spectrum CIO on building a modern IT team

Health IT is a booming field both on the clinical and technology side. MarketsandMarkets projects the health IT market was $187.6 billion in 2019 and will grow at a compound annual growth rate for the subsequent five years, hitting $390.7 billion by 2024.

The reasons for such steep growth include government mandates to support IT solutions, the increase in big data in healthcare and the high return on investment for health IT solutions. Big tech companies such as Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft all have significant investments and niches in the healthcare space. In its most recent quarterly financial report, Apple CEO Tim Cook attributed the company's all-time high revenue report of $91.8 billion to success in the healthcare space.

On the flip side, smaller tech companies and startups with healthcare solutions are popping up daily with solutions from operational efficiency to consumer products, cybersecurity and data management. Health systems across the U.S. are also diving in head-first with innovation programs, accelerators and venture capital arms designed to invest in early-stage IT companies with a potential to revolutionize healthcare delivery.

At the same time, hospital CIOs are building IT teams with the right savvy to work with tech companies on data management and support as well as clinical and operational staff to integrate new platforms seamlessly into the organization. Whereas in the past, CIOs with a computer science or tech background could devote time and energy to system design and implementation, now they need many more skills to oversee effective teams.

"As the world of technology becomes increasingly ubiquitous, we cannot rely on being technically proficient," said Jason Joseph, CIO of Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Mich. "We need to ensure we are providing excellent service and support and helping our business and clinical partners achieve amazing outcomes. We're playing a team sport where everyone needs to get into everyone else's lane just a little bit to be effective. We need to think big, start small and move fast."

Like other health systems, Mr. Joseph competes for talent with organizations well outside of healthcare to attract the brightest minds with analytical skills, experience with cloud-based tool sets and capabilities, and strong problem-solving skills. But that isn't all. "Increasingly, we are trying to balance the technical skill set with the softer skills: emotional intelligence, the ability to listen and problem solve, and the ability to communicate, skills with agile processes and a self-starting can-do attitude," he said.

It is crucial for team members now in the data and analytics roles to look beyond individual solutions and capabilities to understand how to best leverage data created by Spectrum's systems and processes.

"Skills to analyze and interpret data are becoming increasingly critical to our day-to-day operations," he said. "We need individuals that can leverage information to understand where we are performing well, where we have opportunities to improve and what we should target to ensure future success."

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