HealthTrust CIO Michael Seestedt on creating value for health systems and hospitals through technology and improvements.
October 2021 – The Journal of Healthcare Contracting
Innovation occurs when new technologies are leveraged in a way that adds measurable value to the business, said HealthTrust’s Michael Seestedt, who was named the organization’s chief information officer earlier this year. Thus the challenge – if you create something that is cutting edge in the eyes of a technologist, but the business is unable to leverage it to be more successful, is that really innovation? “In my eyes it is not,” he said. “Innovation is when technology creates value either through efficiencies or improvements to the business.”
Seestedt is an innovative and nimble leader with nearly 20 years of technology expertise. After joining HealthTrust Workforce Solutions in 2014, he revamped the company’s suite of technologies to support innovation and growth, successfully positioning HWS platforms to scale on pace with the expanding business. He also directed an enterprise software implementation and oversaw the deployment of scheduling technology used in more than 200 hospitals.
Serving the past seven years as chief information officer of HealthTrust Workforce Solutions, Seestedt led several critical initiatives in support of HealthTrust Workforce Solutions and HCA Healthcare. In his elevated role as CIO of HealthTrust, he will focus on leading the HealthTrust Supply Chain technology and Shared Services agendas as well as continuing to oversee technology at HealthTrust Workforce Solutions.
Seestedt shared more insights into his role, the importance of cybersecurity, creating value for member organizations and more in the following Executive Interview.
JHC: You were named chief information officer in June. Can you briefly describe your role? What about your vision for your team/department?
Michael Seestedt: The CIO role touches all technology across HealthTrust with responsibilities ranging from operations and IT infrastructure to products that support supply chain, GPO, Workforce Management, and Clinical Education lines of business.
Our technologists and engineers understand and respond to the needs of the organization and the challenges facing our industry. Fundamentally, we strive to create value for our business stakeholders, customers and vendor partners. That can take different forms; providing security to reduce business risk or creating efficiencies that improve functionality and systems that reduce the amount of time it takes to do work. Ultimately, what I’ve laid out for the organization is that our role is to return value that will help the business and our members succeed.
JHC: How are you interacting with HealthTrust members?
Seestedt: It is important to understand who your customers are and the challenges they face. Our customers take many different forms: our internal business stakeholders, the facilities we support, and members and suppliers within the GPO space. Our leadership has spent a lot of time forming a product-centric and member-centric organization. IT must be reflective of that commitment and is focused on creating and delivering value to our broad customer base.
JHC: Talk about the importance of cybersecurity within healthcare. Why is it so critical now more than ever?
Seestedt: There is always going to be people out there who are intent on doing bad things. Our role within HealthTrust – and by extension our role in supporting members and suppliers – is to be diligent and make sure that we stay on the lookout. We must be vigilant to ensure we are being good stewards of our systems and protecting our assets.
JHC: How has the role of a chief information officer evolved over the last 5-10 years?
Seestedt: I have seen the role of CIO evolve from a leader of technologists to that of a trusted business partner and business leader. Technology is such an integral part of business success and it has been for many years. It is important for the technology leader to speak the language of business and to understand its challenges so that they can effectively provide technological solutions that enable that business.
JHC: Technology is ever changing – and at an increasingly rapid rate. How do you put a plan in place to properly evaluate innovations as they become available? What are some pitfalls as a CIO that you work to avoid?
Seestedt: Innovation occurs when new technologies are leveraged in a way that adds measurable value to the business. If you create something that is cutting edge in the eyes of a technologist but the business is unable to leverage it to be more successful, is that really innovation? In my eyes it is not. Innovation is when technology creates value either through efficiencies or improvements to the business.
JHC: Best piece of advice on leadership that you’ve received?
Seestedt: A great lesson in leadership came from a former CEO when I was an analyst. It was around 2008, as the financial crisis of the Great Recession was forcing companies to cut back on staff. One of the leaders brought a list of names to the table. On it was an individual who was a solid leader who got work done. The CEO looked at the list and said, “Listen, no matter how bad this company gets, you don’t cut good people. No matter what, there are people that you hitch your wagon to.” He went on to add that if this person has made our list, “that means I’m walking right behind them and closing the doors to this company.”
From that I learned a strong leader is someone who recognizes the value of the people in the organization and the value they provide to the rest of the organization. Good leaders do whatever they can within their power to ensure their people are supported and empowered to enable success.
JHC: How did the pandemic affect your perspective?
Seestedt: Eighteen months into this pandemic, I am pleasantly surprised by our resilience as an organization. We have maintained a work pace that in my career is unmatched. I’ve watched an organization continue to keep that pace, to continue to go back to our core values and continue our dedication to the care and improvement of human life.
After 18 months, folks could start slowing down. They could start saying, “I’ve had too much.” They could say, “I’m done.” And nobody would challenge them on that because we’ve all been through a lot.
But nobody is saying that. No one is slowing down; nobody’s stopping. That is a testament to the people within HealthTrust. They are working with a purpose. They are delivering with a purpose and they understand that their purpose is much greater than just coming to work and getting a paycheck. And that to me tells me that I’m in the right place.