Sanford IT exec aims for ‘a world-class operating unit’

Patrick Kennedy values transparency and Sanford Health culture

Patrick Kennedy is the senior executive director of Technology Solutions Business Management for Sanford Health. Here, we learn about his aspirations for developing the Technology Solutions Department as well as his thoughts about the work culture that Sanford Health has created. (Hint: He’s a fan.)

Career includes hip implant software

Kennedy has spent his 30-plus-year career in information technology, specializing in the health care industry.

In the mid-1990s, Kennedy worked for the world’s largest orthopedic manufacturer, and he received a patent for software that creates custom hip implants. The software took a one-month process down to less than one day. He still retains that patent.

Following that, he became president and chief information officer of a company on the payer and third-party administrator side, something analogous to the Sanford Health Plan. He created software there and helped grow the company.

From there, he took a position at United Health Group as vice president of application development, which he held for 12 years. He was accountable for three of the world’s largest systems: one in claims processing, one in clinical editing and one in claims pricing.

In mid-2017, he came to Sanford Health, focusing his efforts on creating a Technology Solutions division that can scale to $20 billion annually.

Kennedy says he chose Sanford Health because it offered the opportunity to “scale a legacy IT department into a world-class operating unit.” Additionally, he was impressed with the leadership he would be working with and appreciated the chance to move to Sioux Falls because he had family in the area.

Technology role at Sanford Health

Kennedy’s role is ensuring that Technology Solutions becomes transparent in the work that it’s executing and in its operation metrics. The department has a common operating model known as ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library), which is an industry-wide standard used to govern how people work. It is Kennedy’s job to roll that out across the entire department. He also plans for future scale and always strives for higher quality.

Kennedy is most proud, so far, of the increased transparency that he’s helped generate for the department.

He also points out the key role the Technology Solutions Department has played in the Good Samaritan Society affiliation. The department has been ahead of the curve in integration because a key to the two organizations coming together is a common system for being able to talk to each other.

Looking toward the future, his foremost goal is to develop a world-class project management organization, service management organization and financial transparency within Technology Solutions. “Those three things are very important to running a highly efficient IT organization,” he says.

Family man

Kennedy comes from a family of five in northwest Indiana. He attended Purdue University for his bachelor’s degree in computer science. From there, he went to Penn State for his master’s in biomechanics, graduating in the late 1980s.

Kennedy has a wife of 27 years as well as a 20-year-old son who is a sophomore in college. Outside of work, he spends most of his time with his family.

Kennedy also enjoys music, particularly classical chamber music but also classic rock from the 1960s and ’70s.

Embracing work culture

In his work, Kennedy most enjoys the people. He says it is “night and day a contrast from other organizations I have worked in.” He finds his co-workers genuine, positive and respectful, operating in an environment that strives for work-life balance while maintaining a high degree of IT quality and service.

“I’ve never seen anything like that in 30 years of work,” Kennedy says. “Sanford Health truly is a great place to have a career.”

He said that when you add up the sum of what Sanford Health has to offer, it truly is the best company he has seen.

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Posted In Faces of Sanford Health, Workplace Health

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