Why this Microsoft exec chose to join Providence St. Joseph Health as CIO

In a Q&A, B.J. Moore discussed how his tech experience at Microsoft will inform his work at Providence St. Joseph Health, where he will start as CIO on January 28.

Last month, Providence St. Joseph Health announced it tapped B.J. Moore, a Microsoft executive, as its CIO. The appointment is effective January 28.

He has a rich tech background, having held various roles at Microsoft including vice president of enterprise commerce and compliance — cloud and artificial intelligence and vice president of enterprise commerce in the Windows and devices group.

What’s noticeably absent is any experience in healthcare. This is in stark contrast to the typical health system CIO, who’s spent the majority of his or her career working in the world of health IT.

But it’s not altogether unusual for Providence St. Joseph Health. The Renton, Washington-based system has brought in numerous leaders from the technology industry. Its chief digital officer, Aaron Martin, came from Amazon. In 2017, Venkat Bhamidipati, formerly of Microsoft, joined PSJH as its CFO.

For Moore, it’s also helpful that he can gain insight on the healthcare field from his wife. “She’s an executive director of oncology,” he said.

In a phone interview less than two weeks before officially starting his new role, Moore highlighted why he chose to head to PSJH and what his goals are for the first few months on the job. What follows is a slightly edited interview.

MedCity: What led you to make the move from the tech world and Microsoft to healthcare and Providence St. Joseph Health?

Moore: I’ve been at Microsoft 26 years. If I continued to stay at Microsoft for another, say, four years, what would that look like? I evaluated it and said 26 years is long enough. To stay there 30 years, I don’t feel I’ll add the impact and growth I was looking for.

I started to look at other industries. When Providence approached me, it was really just a perfect match. It allowed me to leverage my tech industry strengths and was kind of a marriage made in heaven.

MedCity: Based on your LinkedIn profile, you don’t have any past healthcare experience. What skills from your tech background can you apply to your healthcare position?

Moore: One is digital transformation. At Microsoft, I was responsible for our $70 billion manufacturing and commercial business. I moved that from legacy applications … to the cloud.

The other thing is my experience with big data and artificial intelligence. I think there are foundational elements that can be brought to the healthcare industry that can change the way we manage healthcare.

The third is my sense of relationships within the tech industry. Amazon, Microsoft and Google are getting into healthcare and I’m able to speak their language. I also have an extensive network here at Microsoft.

MedCity: What are the pros and cons of an outside perspective like yours coming into the healthcare arena?

Moore: I’ve done the digital transformation before. Hopefully, I won’t repeat mistakes.

The other thing I bring is a bit of naiveness. Maybe naiveness isn’t the right word. A fresh perspective to the problem will allow us to maybe have different outcomes. I’m not artificially limited to, “This is the way we’ve always done it in healthcare.”

MedCity: You start on January 28. What are your goals for your first six months on the job?

Moore: I’ve got some hypotheses coming in, and I want to make sure they’re just that: hypotheses.

The other piece I want to do is immerse myself in the healthcare business. I want to get out to our locations, meet with healthcare providers and see the experience firsthand. It’s about, “How do I use that first three months to immerse myself in healthcare?” Not to imply I’ll be an expert after three months. It’s a journey.

From that, I want to come out with a roadmap on how we modernize and digitally transform the Providence healthcare system.

MedCity: Which health IT trends or technologies do you see as most vital to Providence St. Joseph Health’s future success?

Moore: I think overall, it’s simplifying and modernizing the ecosystem. We’ve got over 4,000 applications at Providence. Any kind of modernization we do, we’re going to have to do it 4,000 times. One of the things to do is simplify the ecosystem before we modernize it.

It’s exploring those technologies of big data and AI. I don’t know if there’s a specific technology, but Epic and our electronic health records will be a cornerstone.

Photo: z_wei, Getty Images