Stanford Children's Health CIO Kopetsky: Today's health IT executives must helm change, foster leadership

CIOs need to be prepared to foster leadership, said Lucile Packard Children's Hospital CIO Ed Kopetsky.

Hospital innovation is no longer a question of choosing the right software or device. Chief information officers have to step outside the bubble of technology experts and be prepared to lead massive change while cultivating future leaders.

Ed Kopetsky

Ed Kopetsky, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford CIO, said in an interview with Hospitals & Health Networks that effective CIOs must be “concept leaders,” unafraid to take the reins during a major overhaul, including the deploying of a new electronic health record or a security update.


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Most CIOs will also need to create a leadership team within any integration of new technology, so mentoring and supporting staff is key.

“You have to be an integrator and developer of a top-level team," he said. "If you think about what the position used to be, it was a technologist. Today I have to work with others as a peer executive, and I have to develop future leaders in order to lead change.”

This mindset trickles down to other leadership teams, he said. Engagement at all levels and creative leadership extends beyond IT projects.

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Stanford Health Care has leaned strongly into the health technology space. The system’s new CIO, Eric Yablonka, told FierceHealthcare in an interview earlier this month that part of the draw of the system was its proximity to the innovation and creativity of Silicon Valley.

"I don’t think that automatically changes the healthcare industry, but I think it gives it a lot of inertia,” Yablonka said.

Stanford’s medical school invested heavily in data analytics; it has launched a department that focuses on biomedical data to address the industry’s need for data scientists and prepare its medical students to provide “precision health,” a play on precision medicine and genomics.

The academic health system is not alone in turning to Silicon Valley for inspiration. The University of Chicago Medicine and the University of California San Francisco have both partnered with Google to boost their machine learning and analytics capabilities.

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