Texas Health Resources' Joey Sudomir: How IT can boost organizational efficiency

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When Texas Health Resources began working on its new 10-year strategic plan, the IT department jumped at the chance to make its mark on the document.

Joey Sudomir (pictured right), CIO of the Arlington, Texas-based organization, tells FierceHealthIT that his team poured over the roadmap to find places to add "digital touchpoints" for patients and doctors.

Examples of those touchpoints, he says, include creating more convenience for customers, such as adding technology that will  "provide the consumer with an efficient, non-repetitive set of interactions with the health system, such as mobile scheduling."

In addition, consumer wellness is another key area being addressed, Sudomir says. His department is examining tools to allow THR the ability to integrate a consumer’s personal health tracking with a timing and frequency that is mutually beneficial.

The IT department had already been working with other departments on a review of the digital tools at the health system; that, Sudomir says, was a great way to prepare for work on the strategic plan.

That team-based approach also gels with his collaborative management style, which he describes in a recent interview. Sudomir also discusses how he sees the role of the hospital CIO evolving and outlines some of THR’s efforts to improve cybersecurity.

FierceHealthIT: Talk about your management style; how do you run shop at THR?

Joey Sudomir: I’ve always tried to live by one simple philosophy: Inspire, influence and recognize. My style is about collaborating with leaders and employees to show them I am willing to dig in and do the same things that they are doing, that I am willing to lead from the front. My background is operational from an IT perspective, so I tend to be a fairly involved leader.

FHIT: How are you addressing cybersecurity concerns given the recent spate of issues in the healthcare industry? Do you have any new policies or procedures in place?

Sudomir: We’ve established a base layer around reactive processes and identification once a threat has potentially entered the organization. Now, we're focused on trying to put what we call an “advanced threat detection program” in place. We want to be more proactive in the identification of trends through analytics, using tools that help us look at user and network behavior so that we’re not just reacting to threats but trying to predict their origin.

FHIT: What is the most challenging part of your role as CIO?

Sudomir: Being very involved presents some challenges. There’s a really fine balance between being involved at a level that the team and IT department appreciate, but not being so involved that you’re becoming a bottleneck for decisions and you’re closing off autonomy for your leaders. Another challenge is there are only so many hours in a day; it's tough to balance investing too much attention on one particular subject or project because it's often to the determinant of another.

FHIT: What do you enjoy the most about your job?

Sudomir: Being with my team in a room and figuring out how we can solve issues or take advantage of opportunities that changing technology constantly presents to us.

FHIT: How do you see your role as CIO evolving over the next few years?

Sudomir: I foresee more of a shift to collaborative relationships with outside organizations like freestanding emergency department companies or other health systems. When, as a technologist, you don’t necessarily own something like that, you also don’t own the technology--so that’s a shift to having the mindset to work with others. It’s a shift from thinking "I own all the infrastructure and all the systems" to "How do I make this interoperable? How do I exchange this information to make the partnership successful?" That hasn’t necessarily been the bulk of how we’ve done our work.

Editor's Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.