Cardinal Health’s CIO leads digital innovation inside and outside the company | So Good News


Cardinal Health is one of the largest companies in the world with annual revenue of approximately $180 billion. The company has two main segments: the pharmaceutical distribution segment and the medical products segment. The company’s executive vice president, chief information officer and head of Global Business Services is Michelle Green. Its remit includes leading teams that correspond to both segments, as well as leading horizontal teams that cross them. The latter category includes an organization called Fuse, which develops digital office and commercial technology. “My preference is to focus not only on the inner mood, but also on the outer,” Green said. “Determining how we can leverage and find synergies between the technology platforms we’re implementing [is also an area of focus].”

His organization can be seen as an organization that provides glue for each of the possible business segments Happiness 500 on company earnings. “What we’re thinking about right now is how can we foster an enterprise mindset among all of our leaders so that we don’t have to worry about one thing,” Green noted. Asked for examples, he said: “We’ve tried to focus more on the data and analytics, digital, automation and AI space. In these spaces, you may need support from other teams.” These topics become unifying and offer opportunities for greater collaboration across traditional business silos.

The focus on commercial technology is differentiating for CIOs because Green and his team focus on both sides of the profit equation: identifying efficiency opportunities while also driving new revenue opportunities. As an example of the former, he presented a description of a specific solution called a Solution Path. “This is a unique solution embedded in electronic health records that provides our patients with real-time out-of-pocket costs,” said Green. “It helps oncologists choose high-quality treatments to reduce the burden of financial toxicity. It’s a data-driven cost control tool that allows oncologists to accurately measure the cost of care at the beginning and episode of care.” As an example of the latter, Green talked about the Outcomes Connected platform. “It’s a digital ecosystem, and it connects pharmacists, payers and pharmaceutical companies to maximize clinical opportunities,” Green said. “We alleviate the challenges of medication nonadherence, a common and costly problem. Both of these have a team: my Fuse team. They are working with businesses on these solutions and this is a great opportunity for us [solve] business issues related to technology”.

In order to innovate at the scale necessary to grow such a large company, Greene must find creative ways to attract top talent. Like many other companies, increasing the flexibility of who works where has been a great way to find people who may be far from the company’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, and who aren’t interested in moving. He doesn’t take existing talent for granted and continuously works with talented team members to “re-hire” them. “How do we make sure we continue to re-engage, re-hire and attract the talent we have?” Green asked rhetorically. “You have to start from here. Our HR partners work with us to do things like ‘retention interviews’ to understand why people stay and if they’ve looked at other opportunities externally, what’s driving this and how we as an organization can make adjustments. [to lead more people to stay with Cardinal Health].”

Green also noted that ambitious colleagues want to be sure their skills are growing, so it’s important to provide them with the training they need to experience growth. Green’s team developed a learning platform called Digital U. It offers courses and certifications to ensure your team builds the skill sets of tomorrow. “If we don’t nurture that talent and continue to nurture and nurture that talent, people will find other opportunities outside,” he acknowledged.

Green is an executive woman of color and knows she’s part of an exclusive club, but she also admits she has the ability to inspire others to achieve their career goals. He follows the leadership of Mike Kaufman, who was CEO when he joined Cardinal Health, and Jason Hollar, who became CEO on September 1 of this year. Each emphasized the need for greater levels of diversity. Green also noted that as a company seeks a diverse workforce, diversity of thought should also be considered an important factor. “We need to make sure it’s about diversity of thought,” he said. “How do we do it differently?” How do we innovate? How do we think? That’s what makes real diversity.”

When Green thought about his growth, the thought of growth was important. This continues today as he personally pays his trainer to help. When colleagues and friends look surprised, she replies: “When we want to lose weight, we pay a trainer. We pay the person to do your hair or the stylist to find the right clothes to wear. We have to make sure that the important things are really important, and if you’re serious about career development and growth as a leader, you have to be willing to accept that and do it.”

Green serves as a great role model for others.

President of Peter High Metis strategy, a business and IT consulting firm. He has written three bestselling books, including his latest Getting to Nimble. It also moderates Technology podcast series and speaks at conferences around the world. Follow him on Twitter @PeterAHigh.


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