GovDataDownload (GDD): Spencer, thanks for sitting down with us! Please tell us about your role at NetApp?
Spencer Hamons (SH): I am the Chief Information Officer for NetApp’s Healthcare practice and I will shamelessly brag that I have one of the greatest jobs at a great company. While some parts of the job are what you’d expect – working with our sales teams and partners to ensure they are aligned with the needs of our healthcare customers – there’s a lot more to my role. One of the privileges of being a CIO is having the opportunity to work with healthcare leaders across the U.S. to build a culture of excellence that benefits all of us in the industry. I get to see health systems that are managing their data and their infrastructure well and then use that knowledge, plus our collaborative insights, to help other organizations that are not as far along on their data management journey. But it’s not just about technology, what’s really rewarding is that growing and sharing this body of IT knowledge has a tangible and positive impact on patient care and outcomes.
Finally, one of the most unique parts of my job is that I get to be the advocate for our healthcare customers within NetApp. I get to be part of promoting the advancements that NetApp is developing to assure that the needs of our healthcare customers are met in the timeliest manner possible. To be able to advocate for healthcare within a Fortune 500 technology company is an honor.
GDD: Can you tell us about your experience prior to joining NetApp and how it prepared you for your career with NetApp?
SH: I seem to have been involved in healthcare in some way or another for my entire adult life. It all started when I joined the U.S. Army as a combat medic. While serving as a medic I received training on a number of communications technologies, which, unbeknownst to me at the time, was the start of the next phase of my career. After I left the Army in the early 1990s, I was given the opportunity to become a Director of IT for a couple of HCA facilities in the Houston area and from there my career grew. I got to work in hospital systems not only in Texas but also in Colorado, Alaska, and New Mexico. During this time, I accepted a position on NetApp’s CXO Advisory Council and after several years of service I had the opportunity to join the NetApp team.
The perspective I’ve gained over more than twenty years in healthcare and IT roles is essential for the position I hold at NetApp. Having spent portions of my career at the bedside, in the technology sector, in both for-profit and not-for-profit institutions, in large academic medical centers and in the most rural areas of the country, I can offer my perspective and insights so they can be put to work both by our customers and internal stakeholders to ensure we’re designing the solutions that solve our customers’ toughest data management challenges.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t highlight the importance of my military career in shaping the professional I am today. NetApp is a huge advocate for veterans; as well as assisting with training, we believe that veterans bring a level of responsibility, integrity, and work ethic that is vital in a fast-moving and demanding environment.
GDD: What do you find most rewarding about working with healthcare customers?
SH: Without a doubt, the most rewarding aspect of working in healthcare IT is the collaborative nature of the work we do. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll see two CIOs of competing retail giants sitting down at the same table discussing their problems and creating strategies to overcome them. But that’s how healthcare CIOs work; even in the most competitive markets, collaboration is seen as the key way to improve the care we deliver to our patients. Healthcare is, after all, about the well-being of people and if we forget to focus on the humanity of healthcare, then we’re not doing our job.
What’s particularly rewarding is when you see a healthcare partner rewarded for their commitment to innovation and in delivering exceptional patient care. In a couple of weeks at HIMSS 2017, Mercy will be awarded the Nicholas E. Davies Award of Excellence. NetApp has a strong partnership with Mercy and we’ve worked with their team on a variety of initiatives ranging from the monetization of their IT services, to offering services to remote facilities, and even collaborated on building a strong corporate culture. Our shared commitments to excellence, innovation, collaboration makes this a rewarding relationship; it’s an inspiration to work with Mercy’s executive team as they build their vision of the best health system.
GDD: You’re going to be at HIMSS 2017 in a couple of weeks, what’s something you look forward to about the conference? Do you have a tip to share about getting the most out of the conference?
SH: While I’ve been attending HIMSS for over 20 years, this is only my third year attending as part of a vendor team. It turns out that old habits die hard and I still enjoy attending the educational sessions and seeing organizations highlight their best practices for delivering patient care in innovative ways. While not every success story involves a NetApp solution, I appreciate these illustrations of success and take the opportunity to put those organizations struggling with specific issues in touch with those who have shown the ability to overcome similar challenges.
Given that I’ve been attending HIMSS for a few years, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve for getting the most out of what is a massive event. I would suggest that attendees make a plan for their time before they even get to the airport. Especially for first-timers, attendance at HIMSS can be overwhelming and it is difficult to remain focused. Take a look at the map of the exhibit floor and identify the vendors you have an interest in speaking with. I would even suggest getting in contact with those vendors and setting up a defined time to meet, and ensure that vendor understands the topic you want to discuss. NetApp has four conference rooms at HIMSS to make sure our team of healthcare IT experts can meet with customers and prospective users and focus on their needs. As well as scheduling meetings, I would also suggest that attendees schedule themselves some free time on the exhibit floor. One of the most valuable parts of HIMSS is learning about things you didn’t even know existed before. Just as NetApp has been able to fundamentally change the way that health systems are storing and managing their data, there are other technologies showcased at HIMSS that can provide other game-changing opportunities.
GDD: Can you tell us something about you that we can’t learn from your LinkedIn profile?
SH: I have a passion for helping people embrace self-development, both professionally and personally. I believe that introspection is an essential attribute of a successful and well-rounded individual and for the overall success of the greater workforce. But introspection alone isn’t sufficient to fulfill our potential. Willingness to identify and change who we are and to embrace the needs of our organization and our co-workers is essential. I have always loved the Demotivators posters. One of my favorites is called, “Dysfunction.” The quote on the bottom of the poster says: “The only consistent feature in all of your dissatisfying relationships is you.” I think there is a lot of truth in this statement, and through all of my time in management, I have always tried to make time to help myself and my staffs to identify, and address, our own shortcomings to help us become a better and stronger team.
Would you like to meet Spencer and the rest of the NetApp Healthcare team at HIMSS 2017? They’ll be at Booth 1771 on the show floor. There’s more information on here and you can book a meeting time with the team here.