Ed Estrada is all about integrity. As vice president of risk management and compliance at technology-driven healthcare improvement company Premier Inc, where he’s worked for nearly fifteen years, he’s had plenty of experiences that have shaped his beliefs.
“If you’re seeking a career in cybersecurity risk and compliance, in my experience, being technically strong, business-minded, and proactive are certainly helpful—but none of that matters if you don’t have integrity,” Estrada says. “Integrity is a non-negotiable character trait because how you do business is just as important as what you do. Integrity is not about good or bad; it’s about transparent consistency.”
Through Premier’s technology and services platform, the company helps its member healthcare organizations optimize performance using advanced analytics, consulting services, and workflow solutions—work that requires the company to process massive amounts of highly sensitive data accumulated by its members. This means, of course, that its cybersecurity and compliance department must meet the highest standards.
Estrada began his career with Premier in 2007 as an analyst, where he earned tactical experience and built a thorough understanding of the healthcare industry. He then went on to drive the vision, architecture, development, and delivery of critical flagship client and employee facing collaboration portals, tools, and services.
“With the knowledge I gained over the years, I was able to convert intangible assets into tangible, cost-effective, and profitable outcomes,” Estrada says. “That essentially means turning things that are normally taken for granted into not only efficient and effective tools but also profitable structures.”
We never lose sight of the fact that people’s health is at stake.”Ed Estrada
Estrada’s aptitude for building secure systems did not go unnoticed. He quickly moved up through the ranks at Premier and was instructed to focus his efforts on evolving the company’s information security. Part of his job is to ensure Premier’s information security strategy, infrastructure, systems, solutions, and services are fashioned, maintained, and delivered with the utmost security, quality, innovation, and integrity. He also provides the board of directors with assurances that the operation solutions services would be able to deliver on business objectives without placing the organization into any jeopardy.
“Simply put, I establish, architect, own, and steward a program and framework that monitors Premier’s information security capabilities to ensure that any deviations are managed in a way that does not jeopardize Premier, achieves business goals, and operates in a way that meets laws, regulations, and contractual obligations,” Estrada explains.
Early on in his career, Estrada embraced the fact that security and compliance require an even greater level of responsibility in the healthcare field. “We never lose sight of the fact that people’s health is at stake. We can’t mail it in,” Estrada says. “While our innovative technology, solutions, and services are always leading edge to improve the quality, safety and overall outcomes delivered to patients, we must make sure our systems, environment and everyone’s data are trusted and safe. Our discipline is making sure they are up to the highest standards possible.”
This is where risk management and compliance in healthcare differ from other industries. In such a highly regulated field, the tolerance for shortcomings in discipline and transparency is extremely low.
“Some people, especially new people, may have the perception that compliance is something you do in anticipation of an audit,” Estrada says. “They may think ‘If this thing isn’t going to be audited, then why do I have to put the extra discipline in?’ I would say that is the wrong mindset for this industry. It’s vitally important to establish programs and standards in a way that unobtrusively infuses compliance into the everyday and cultivate partnerships with people who come from a different paradigm to make sure they understand the expectations of the industry that they now inhabit.”
Estrada is a leadership member of Premier’s council on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, which aims to be a community development pillar. The council creates opportunities to address inequities within healthcare, a goal they achieve by using their data to identify and take action against the social determinants of healthcare disparities. They focus on the root causes of those disparities, such as poverty, homelessness, mental health, and education.
Every year the council grants the Monroe E. Trout Premier Cares Award to a nonprofit that supports those who are excluded or underserved by the mainstream healthcare delivery system. The award includes a financial grant to contribute monetarily to the recipient’s efforts. “The award is really something that we are extremely proud of. It’s an opportunity and a call to action, not only for me but for my colleagues and our industry,” Estrada explains. “Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed these issues throughout my whole life, and only recently have I had the opportunity to address them in a way that could actually be impactful.”