Streamlining Healthcare IT Services
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Streamlining Healthcare IT Services

Brian Sterud, VP of IT/CIO/CISO, Faith Regional Health Services

Brian Sterud has been serving as VP of IT, CIO and CISO at Faith Regional Health Services since 2012. He joined to Faith Regional from Brookings Health Systems where he was the Director of Information Management since 2008. Prior to this, Sterud had built a strong knowledge of the technology needs and initiatives within the healthcare industry, including the position of Network Analyst, Remote Systems Engineer and Consultant and Data Systems Engineer. Sterud holds Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD. In 2011, he graduated from CIO Boot Camp at the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives. Sterud is a Certified Healthcare CIO and Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems. He specializes in healthcare operations streamlining, enterprise resource planning, strategic planning and analytics, system planning and design, cross-functional collaboration, infrastructure solutions project management and security controls.

​ As technological advancements continue to emerge, gaining a deep understanding of the impact and benefits that they bring to your business is key to reaping long-term success  

In your experience, what are some of the trends and challenges in the professional services automation space today?

When it comes to the professional services automation space, one of the biggest areas that hold immense potential is cybersecurity. With the growing deluge of information, organizations are increasingly relying on the automation of trend and behavior analysis while correlating them to drive significant value. In certain instances, even with partial automation of processes, numerous companies are focusing on providing security officers with a curated list of both high-priority and low-priority tasks to perform. Correspondingly, in the healthcare space too, there exists an opportunity to make inferences based on correlating data from lab results or other reports of certain disease groups by leveraging emerging technologies and algorithms. This can streamline the decision-making capability of clinicians to appropriately categorize these diverse patient groups or provide proactive surveillance alerts on these groups.

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Could you talk about your approach to identifying the right solution providers in the market?

At a time when multiple vendors are offering innovative solutions in the healthcare space, it can be a real challenge to identify the right solution provider. With the help of our core vendors, we were able to adopt advanced technologies built upon automation. We follow specific evaluation processes for all our significant vendors every few years, which essentially allows us to carry out environmental assessments with new or emerging vendors and also to ensure the best prices from a vendor perspective. We have been an early adopter of cloud in healthcare, which is something unique because of the ever-changing regulatory landscape in the industry. In addition, we perform vendor evaluations from a cloud-first standpoint to ensure that they adhere to all the requisite regulations and standards.

Can you elaborate on any recent projects that you are currently working, its scope, and the expected outcome?

We are currently overseeing many large-scale projects involving a new ERP and EMR system scheduled to go live in about 90 days. This will allow us to bring in a more modern financial system and have data at our fingertips to make better-informed business decisions. From an EMR perspective, we are moving toward partnering with an industry leader that can help us drive better collaborations with local hospitals, boost interoperability, and improve the patient experience by enabling them to pay their bills and make appointments online through apps or patient portals. Added to this, we have implemented an infrastructure upgrade, both in our wired and wireless architecture, which has empowered us to fully implement micro-segmentation on our network, bolstering layered security internally.

What are the strategic points you discuss with the leadership or colleagues to steer the company forward in the market?

IT is an integral part of the decision-making process in the healthcare space right now, and as such, we have an IT steering committee that meets every month to review the status of projects and decide upon where to invest more time to stay on the right track. As a member of the senior management team, I provide actionable insights from an IT perspective and address the various concerns regarding IT operations in the company. We also perform in-depth strategic planning every few years, and our latest successful projects are the result of those strategic planning processes. Besides, we create a multi-year IT plan, which is updated each year and approved by the IT Steering Committee. The progress of this plan is further reviewed and discussed every quarter to understand the status of projects. We have a high functioning IT leadership that supports collaboration and engagement within the organization, which ensures our success in the long run.

How do you influence your colleagues or subordinates to foster a positive work culture at your company?

I strive to build a collaborative work culture and build consensus on the decision-making processes of the company, underpinned by data. At Faith Regional Health Services, we focus on making decisions purely based on factual information while soliciting feedback from multiple sources to promote a collaborative interaction among employees.

Where do you see the future of the healthcare industry going in terms of technological innovations?

The technological evolutions in the healthcare arena will allow caregivers to have information readily available at their disposal in the future. It might not entirely displace the knowledge that providers need to expedite their decision-making processes, but will undoubtedly refine them through advanced algorithms and tools. According to me, correlating data points for directing intelligence quickly to the right people will bring about significant disruptions in the healthcare arena. For us, this poses a significant opportunity since our core vendors can adopt or develop the emerging technologies and build them into our core toolsets so that they can be integrated with our existing infrastructure.

What would be the single piece of advice that you want to impart to aspiring or fellow professionals in the field to embark on a successful business journey?

I believe that for beginners, it is ideal for gaining experience early on in their career, right from school or college, such that they can leverage the perfect blend of both experience and education to find the right the job. For those who are further ahead on the career path, understanding the business and having a technology-focused mindset is necessary. As technological advancements continue to emerge, gaining a deep understanding of the impact and benefits that they bring to your business is key to reaping long-term success. Over and above, putting together the right team can go a long way in fostering a positive work culture, where employees enjoy their work and motivate each other to bring in more value and focus on goals, thereby ensuring the success of a company.

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