Changing IT mindset: CareCentrix CIO's 4-step formula

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CIO IT business alignment

You won’t find an IT organization at CareCentrix. As CIO/CTO, I lead a group known throughout the company as the business technology group. Our goal is to grow the business and make it better for our healthcare patients through technology. So, the decision to move away from the term “IT organization” is not just simple nomenclature. It’s a mindset shift that puts the business first and technology second. 

This mindset shift became an important goal for CareCentrix for a variety of reasons. First, we had reached a point in the evolution of our company where we increasingly relied on consultants. What began as a means for us to drive down costs had become a trend that wasn’t good for our business. So we embarked on the mantra, “We will be the brains, and we’ll hire the arms and legs.” We needed to designate certain roles – those that would most impact the growth of the business – as employee-only, and start building those capabilities in house. 

It’s a mindset shift that puts the business first and technology second. 

Secondly, we had to commit to looking outward. We needed people within the business technology group to interact directly with providers, stakeholders, and clients to better understand their needs and then feed insights back into our product development plans. I personally make a point to establish senior-level connections with all of our clients. Whether it’s to share best practices or dig in on common security concerns, it’s important for me to have those relationships. 

Finally, we recognized that we are a very strong technology group, but our focus is not to create technology. Our focus is to grow the business. To do that in an agile and scalable way, we needed to consult first, orchestrate second, integrate third, and, after exhausting all of those options, build last.  

How we make it work

To stay true to this formula, we always start by identifying the problem we are trying to solve. Whether for a client, provider, or one of our internal partners, our first step is to consult on the best approach to the problem at hand.

There are very few problems these days that are technology-agnostic. Technology has a bearing on most problems, and that’s why we need to orchestrate. Sometimes, orchestration is as simple as helping someone understand how existing capabilities can be configured to meet their needs. Sometimes, you need to bring in partners from the outside to articulate a different point of view.  

Yet other times, orchestration involves actually taking a product or technology from one or more partners and bringing it to bear for the company. That’s when integration comes into the picture. Often, an integration will fit into whatever we framed as the business problem to tackle. But when it doesn’t, we say, “Okay, what do we need to build into our assets so that the integration goes well, or the desired capability is delivered?” That’s when we make the decision to build.

The goal of this strategy is to turn traditional problem-solving in IT upside down. I’ve seen technology organizations approach problems by asking first for a set of requirements. Whether it was done in waterfall or agile, the idea was determine what to build, and lay out a release plan to get there. Instead, we strive to be strategic in how we are going to meet each individual need. Of course, we don’t succeed all the time, but we always go in with that mindset: consult, orchestrate, integrate, then build.  

Our business-first mentality made this mindset shift natural for everyone in the business technology group. It puts everything we are working on in the context of the mission we serve – to help patients age and heal at home. Consult, orchestrate, integrate, then build is our shortest path to victory – and one that may work in other business-centric IT organizations. 

Tej Anand has more than 20 years of experience as a business IT strategist, innovator, and practitioner. Tej currently serves as the Chief Data Officer at CareCentrix, a healthcare company that manages the services, therapies, and resources that enable patients to heal and age at home.

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