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Recap: Think IT Optum Leadership Panel

Last Friday, we hosted an event unlike any other we’ve done in the past. A huge thank you to Optum for hosting the Think IT group as we had a panel discussion on the topic of Large Scaled Technology Transformation (People, Technology, and Culture). We can’t thank our panelists; Francois Charette; CIO at Optum Rx, Heather Mickman; VP, Platform Engineering & Practices at Optum and Bryant Noice, Vice President EEPS at Optum enough for sharing their wisdom and experiences with the group.  

The questions flooded in for our panelists, please find a few of the questions that we’re addressed below. Please find the slide deck from the session, here.

With the advent of multiple new technology’s every year, how does Optum avoid falling in the trap of “chasing shiny new objects without business use case”? 

As a leader, technology is growing so quickly that Francois is interested in always having his team learning and chasing the “new shiny” object. Challenge your team to look at technology differently. It’s important to always create a culture where your employees can continuously learn. 

What in your opinion is the biggest challenge Optum faces as it transitions to solve healthcare problems through the greater use of technology? 

One of the biggest challenges we face in healthcare is how you identify a person. We always have to be thinking about the user first. In order to overcome some of these challenges, we can start by making a strategic investment and getting our teams on board.  

How do we reduce the redundancy where multiple teams/departments are developing solutions to the same problem? 

First, it’s crucial that everyone knows what you are working on, and that it is available to them. As leaders, we need to be courageous enough to sit at the table and have a business strategy in place. Bryant Noice stated how we must reinvent the solution, make sure people know about the solution, and make sure people use the solution in the correct way. 

What percentage of applications and platforms do you envision to see hosted on-premise for Optum in 5 years? Do you see a drastic decline in prem usage?  

Be in the public eye a lot more than we are today, this includes gaining efficiencies in public cloud and emphasizing application modernization. Set the bar high for your team to go to the public cloud. The cloud is not about where it’s about building applications. We need to be asking ourselves, where does the work need to go? 

How involved are you ask leaders in making the right moves?  

One thing Francois is focusing on is looking at the retail space and learning from them. Healthcare is a very difficult industry to be a part of, and Amazon is moving into Healthcare. For Heather Mickman, lighting a fire under a modernization strategy is a move she has taken on. As for Bryant, digital strategy reins as a focus for him to meet people where they are along with being competitive and disruptive.  

How do we transition to an agile funding model? We are doing agile development but are still required to estimate waterfall.  

If you want to change the delivery model you must change the financial and talent mode as well. Your organization needs product owners that have the ability to make decisions and be in the team.  

As technology is ever-changing, organizations must focus on innovation and being proactive. As we move forward as an industry, its important to continue to collaborate sharing struggles and solutions.