The healthcare industry is undergoing dynamic and dramatic changes. Patients expect more from their providers, and providers require better tools to handle risk, compliance requirements, lab utilization and, of course, to manage chronic care patients and populations.
As CIO of Quest Diagnostics, Lidia Fonseca leads enterprise-wide IT for a Fortune 500 company with $7.5 billion in revenue and 43,000 employees specializing in the provision of diagnostic information services.
She also directs the company’s end-to-end enterprise architecture and integrates processes, data and systems across the network for future growth and drive operational excellence. Fonseca was instrumental in creating Quanum, Quest Diagnostics’ new portfolio of information technology and data analytics tools.
Fonseca was previously CIO at LabCorp and held a number of senior leadership positions in supply chain and IT at Philips Healthcare.
CIO Dive recently spoke with Fonseca about what it’s like to be a CIO in an industry undergoing so much turbulence.
You are a CIO at a time when only 19% of all Fortune 500 CIO’s are women. How did you get started?
Fonseca: I had an interest in technology and data early on. When I made the decision to go to business school, I selected the only school at the time that offered a Master’s degree in business informatics. I believed then, as I do now, that information is the oil of the 21st century, so I earned a Master’s in business and also a Master’s in business informatics.
I also figured out pretty early on that I have a passion for transformation. That is how I got into technology. I like to transform things, I like to fix things and I like to offer solutions.
What’s one of the most challenging aspects of your current role?
Fonseca: We are currently aligning our operations and our services and driving digital enablement across our entire value chain. From setting up a new customer to the way they interact with us to the services that they access — we are aligning the way we operate so that we are presenting a unified Quest to the market.
What role does Big Data play in your job?
Fonseca: We serve about 50% of physicians in hospitals across the U.S., and one in three Americans come to visit us each year to get their diagnostic testing or assessments. We have ten years’ worth of data and about 40 billion test results, so we are definitely a Big Data shop, both in terms of the amount of data that we have but also the velocity by which we move it.
We have more than 450,000 providers that leverage our solutions, whether it’s electronic order workflows or any number of different technology solutions that we offer. We also have a consumer portal, MyQuest, where more than four million consumers interact with us.
Last year we launched QuestQuanum, our information technology and data analytics solutions suite. We are migrating all our existing solutions to the Quanum brand. That helps us have a conversation with our customers, because now it's a brand platform, it's a line to our Quest brand overall.
What do you see for the future of technology and healthcare?
Fonseca: It’s certainly an exciting time to work in healthcare. We have really started to shift from treating the sick to keeping people well, and I think that will continue and we’ll get better and better at it.
We know that if we can use data to identify risk, identify gaps in care and detect conditions in early stages, then a patient’s quality of life is going to be much, much better. And if we can use data to intervene sooner and identify risk sooner, we not only improve the quality of life, but we ultimately take cost out of the system as well. Our solutions enable providers and consumers to identify that risk and to intervene sooner.
What is Quest doing to help promote diversity in the workplace?
Fonseca: We strive to provide an environment where we can encourage and support diversity. We very much believe employing people from diverse backgrounds makes a workforce a lot more effective.
We want to provide opportunities for our own people to grow into different roles and to ensure we're exposed to a diverse set of colleagues. I think you have to have that commitment at every step and then make sure you follow through on that commitment. When I'm hiring anybody on my team, our recruiters know I'm going to want to see a slate of diverse candidates.
Do you have any suggestions for other women in technology hoping to reach the CIO level?
Fonseca: I think it's important to understand the business. It’s not enough to align technology to the business. You have to be in the business. I spend a good chunk of my time with customers. Probably about 30-35% of my time, I'm actually in customer meetings.
That to me is really important to be successful because our role is to provide solutions. It’s important to spend time with the customers and understand what they need so that not only can we meet their needs, but, ideally, we can anticipate those needs.
That’s how you can deliver solutions and be more effective but also differentiate yourself because there aren’t that many CIOs that actually spend time with customers. I'm a big believer that that's been a key part of what's helped me navigate in a world where there are not that many female CIOs.
You also need to focus on solutions, not just technology for technology's sake. The technologies we deliver make our customers more effective by helping them make better decisions — better decisions about what to do about a patient, better decisions about reimbursement, etc.
In this day and age, where more of the responsibility is shifting to the consumer and we're shifting to value-based care, providers have to take more risks. The insights we provide help our customers make more informed decisions.