As CIO at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Bill Frandich is in the business of using technology to solve business problems. He spoke with DBusiness Daily News about the role of technology in the healthcare industry and what the company is experiencing as the information technology sector continues to grow.
1. DDN: What is your role as CIO entail?
BF: As chief information officer, I oversee a lot of information technology operations, which incorporates everything that we own and manage, but also our third-party relationships that provide support and IT services. I also oversee all the IT investment decisions we make, as well as our portfolio of projects and investments that we make in support of the company. As part of that, I also oversee all our information security activities, which includes all our operations that support that, and (our) response to any issues or incidents we may have.
2. DDN: How has the IT industry in Detroit changed over the past several years?
BF: Detroit has evolved dramatically in the market based on the investments we’ve seen made in the community and the companies that have come here, and a byproduct of that is we’re seeing a significant amount of influx of investment in technology enablement companies and many of the major companies like Microsoft, Oracle, and Google have made Detroit a focus area. We also see it significantly within the academic side and the continued interest in careers in this area. And certainly, just in the general market, as technology becomes more and more important to companies and what they’re trying to achieve strategically as businesses. The demand for jobs and growth has grown, as well as the different skill sets that make up the IT roles in companies.
3. DDN: What does an IT career look like for people at BCBSM?
BF: We recognize there are some common technologies that are leveraged across the industry at various companies, but Blue Cross is Michigan’s largest health insurance company, and by nature we’re the largest information technology company (in our sector). Everything we invest in and focus on as a company, as well as security, incorporates technology, so what makes the situation here with health plans, insurance, and the healthcare industry in general unique is how much technology is reshaping how businesses work and operate, and how we’re starting to leverage technology differently to achieve our overall mission as a company, which is improving the health of the Michigan community.
4. DDN: Do you expect the demand for IT professionals to continue increasing?
BF: That is our plan, and we continue to invest and modernize our infrastructure. Like everything else, healthcare is no different with the use of technology in that you see innovations under a much more different evolution than in other industries. New technology is always coming to market and it’s our job to determine how applicable it is for our industry and how best to leverage them to support the business. To do that, you’re constantly tapping into talent and bringing new people to your organization. Many IT professionals with experience outside of the healthcare industry have found a home here. They have been with us for literally decades, and they continue to refine and grow their skills. A big part of that is providing opportunities for people to grow their skills and doing innovative things given where technology fits in our company.
5. What does an increased need for IT workers indicate about the economy?
BF: We’ve all heard and read that here in Michigan, the major transition that’s occurred in the healthcare market and industry is the innovation that’s coming in all aspects is almost second to none against any other industry. The role of a technology professional in a business like ours really falls into more of a transformationalist role, where we’re working closely with our business partners to re-define how we do work, and thus what we always talk about in our recruiting and retention meetings is the importance of our role in helping guide, advise, and transform the work so that we can continue to have the impact that we’ve had in the Michigan market in the past.