InformationWeek | Larry Stofko One of 25 CIOs Transforming Healthcare

news_clip_image002After four years as senior VP and CIO for St. Joseph Health System, a $4.3 billion California-based healthcare system, Larry Stofko is taking on a new challenge as executive VP of the health system’s Innovation Institute. The Institute, which has internal and outside funding, is designed to introduce health IT products, services, investments and partnerships.

Stofko’s 25 years of experience in healthcare IT made him the obvious choice to be part of the Institute’s executive leadership team. St. Joseph ranked No. 55 in the 2011 InformationWeek 500. Stofko himself received CIO magazine’s “Ones to Watch” award as an up-and-coming IT executive.  As CIO at St. Joseph, Stofko has spearheaded several progressive initiatives, including the deployment of wireless smart IV pumps, remote ICU monitoring, medication bar codes, radio frequency identification, and a physician portal that provides remote access to lab results and other patient data. Stofko says he knows from firsthand experience that data from the physicians’ portal is helping doctors avoid ordering costly and inconvenient lab tests that patients have already had.

Since moving to the Innovation Institute, Stofko has launched its Innovations Lab, which is tasked with “mining and harvesting ideas from employees and physicians.” As administrative and IT staff, physicians and other clinicians detect problems and come up with potential solutions, the lab will bring these to technology partners to prototype, pilot and commercialize them.  Projects on the drawing board focus on breakthroughs in the areas of mobile health, personalized medicine, consumer technologies and gamification.  One project, for instance, uses IT tools to coordinate and standardize pre-op and post-op care based on personal health records and evidence-based medicine.  These new tools and platforms will be built to scale rapidly across health care organizations nationally and, in some cases, internationally.

The Innovation Institute’s second branch, its Innovation Fund, is essentially a venture fund that backs new companies that come up with original healthcare services and products. The aim is to maintain 5 – 10 companies in the portfolio at any given time, and for this second branch to serve as an alternative revenue stream.

A third branch focuses on short- and immediate-term opportunities within the continuum of care that healthcare organizations provide, developing the brightest prospects into business units with a swift return on effort and investment in existing service areas.

The rationale for the Innovation Institute was pretty straightforward, says Stofko: As St. Joseph looked at the healthcare landscape in late 2010, it realized that traditional third-party reimbursement of medical services would most likely shrink over time, and that it would be important to innovate and explore new growth opportunities that help fulfill its mission and to respond agilely to both the long- and short-term needs of the healthcare industry.

“The products and services coming out of our new Institute will help fill the void left by that shrinking source of revenue and complement our community benefit and charity care programs,” Stofko says. A unique attribute of the Institute is that it will ultimately include another half dozen health systems across the country in addition to St. Joseph.  More…