Thomas A. BresVP and CIO, Sparrow Health System
How long at current company: Two years
Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: here's nothing quite like knowing you've enabled a physician or nurse to improve someone's health, or simply made someone's hospital stay more comfortable. I'll use the story of a recent cancer patient as an example. She was going to miss her son's high school graduation because of her chemotherapy. We brought in some videoconferencing equipment so she could view the graduation from her hospital room. It meant the world to her. Bringing the family together that day might be my proudest moment.
ON THE JOB
IT budget: $67 million
Size of IT team: Around 160
• Deploy an electronic medical record system for our physician practices. We're turning them from paper to completely electronic.
• Deploy a document management system across Sparrow. This will let us scan and digitize our current paper inpatient records and streamline the discharge process.
• Redesign and rehost all our Web sites and content for the entire Sparrow Health System. This will improve the Web experience for our patients and community, and allow us to deploy new capabilities.
Advice for future CIOs: Get to know the culture of your own organization and the strengths and weaknesses of that culture. Often, new execs will quickly reorganize a department or change strategy as a vehicle to achieve success. The reality is that culture more often determines how employees execute rather than who they report to on an org chart. If you build a culture that reflects your priorities, you'll be well positioned for success.
The next big thing for my industry: A big challenge for healthcare providers will be collaboration. Reaping the benefits of electronic health records depends on bringing people together across multiple disparate entities in collaboration to deliver the best care. Finding new ways to do this will be critical to the industry's success.
The government's top tech priority should be ... to continue achieving the pace of innovation we've experienced in recent years, the federal government should foster an environment where small businesses can thrive.
Kids and tech careers: A career in IT can certainly be rewarding. You're viewed as a problem solver. You can be a developer, a network engineer, a project manager, or somewhere in between. You can be hands-on or get into management. My main advice would be that whichever avenue you pursue, make sure you understand the business you support.
Colleges/degrees: Albion College, BA in economics
Leisure activities: Golf and coaching my kids' sports teams
Biggest business-related pet peeve: When people meet instead of act
Smartphone of choice: Droid
If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... a public servant of some sort--I love the state of Michigan and want to do everything I can to facilitate our economic recovery
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