Fierce Q&A: CHIME Chair Drex DeFord readies for move to Steward


Accountable care organization efforts in the U.S. have doubled over the past 12 months, according to a Health Intelligence Network survey published this month. One of the powerhouses leading the pack is Boston-based Steward Health Care, a 10-hospital system and one of the 32 Pioneer ACOs as designated by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation.

Current College of Healthcare Information Management Executives chair Drex DeFord (pictured) announced this week that he will be leaving his post as CIO at Seattle Children's Hospital next month to take on the same role at Steward.

"They don't call it 'Pioneer' just because it's a cool word," DeFord told FierceHealthIT via email. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I'm lucky and honored to be a part of it."

Check out what else DeFord had to say about the move to Steward, which he calls "a significantly different environment politically."

FierceHealthIT: You said the job was "too good to pass up." What intrigues you about Steward?

DeFord: I believe they are creating a new national model for community healthcare. Most of the care in this country is provided by smaller community hospitals and medical groups. Citizens want great healthcare, and they want to receive that healthcare in their community--locally. Steward's dedicated to making sure small hospitals not only survive, but thrive, delivering great, safe, high-quality, cost-effective healthcare.

Steward's also dedicated to … working with consumers to keep them healthy and out of the more expensive "sick-care" side of the system. [It's] building all of this as one of the country's Pioneer ACOs--working collaboratively with employers, other providers, payers, the government, and most importantly, consumers--to change the way we deliver care in the U.S. To turn a technology phrase, Steward's building the new "operating system" for healthcare. I had to be a part of it.