CIO Spotlight: Joe Filippoli, Tabula Rasa HealthCare
Human Resources

CIO Spotlight: Joe Filippoli, Tabula Rasa HealthCare

Name: Joe Filippoli, MBA

Company: Tabula Rasa HealthCare          

Job title: CIO

Time in current role: Five years

Location: Moorestown, NJ

Education: I am a bit non-traditional. I joined the United States Navy right out of high school as a Data Processing Technician. The Navy provided specialized data and software education, and in-turn I gave Uncle Sam six years. I liken my education and experience in the Navy to that of undergraduate students. Then, in 2005, I completed my MBA from Drexel University in Philadelphia. I was admitted on a special exemption due to my Navy education and business experience. At the time, I had already moved through the ranks and was in a CTO position with a large company.    


Joe Filippoli, a 30+ year veteran of the IT industry, is currently serving as the Chief Information Officer for Tabula Rasa Healthcare. Prior to TRHC Filippoli served as The Health System Director developing and leading Enterprise Analytics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Filippoli proudly served in the United States Navy in Data Processing from 1984 to 1989 and received his Master’s in Business Administration from Drexel University in 2005.

What was your first job? I have been working continuously since I was fourteen. My first job was doing lawn and garden work after school and on weekends for the ‘guy with the really big house down the street.’ He was a self-made millionaire businessman. I really liked his house and his lifestyle, and he was extremely kind.

Did you always want to work in IT? I am lucky to have known what I wanted to do when I was very young, and I have been doing it ever since. As a freshman and sophomore, I lobbied to have my high school include computer programming in the curriculum, and in my junior and senior years I took Programming I & II, the classes I fought for. I have been in IT ever since, around 35 years.

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. No career detours per se, but certainly a few exciting domain changes. I started in data centers as a “Computer Operator”. From there I went to a horse racing and sports betting computer systems company, then on to casino gaming. In 1999 I made the move to healthcare, where I have stayed and have truly found my calling.

What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organization in the coming year? Tabula Rasa HealthCare is moving quickly toward direct-to-consumer software and expanding our international presence. We will have a lot of work to do to translate our software and systems. We will certainly have challenges understanding how to host our software in non-US-based data centers.    

What are the CEO's top priorities for you in the coming year? How do you plan to support the business with IT? Information security remains top of mind for the business. A close second is keeping ahead of customer demand. I am responsible for all of the traditional IT domains, as well as for Software Development and Product, which is comprised of five separate products. Managing the development resources and carving through the product roadmaps is a key to the business’ success.

Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? Should the role have additional responsibilities it does not currently include? It is not traditional for a CIO to be responsible for Product. It certainly would be easier if I didn’t have that responsibility, but I enjoy it, as it is a key to our success that I can deliver. Also facilities management comes under my direction.  Now, that’s certainly not the most fun part of my job. I am not soliciting any additional responsibilities at this time.

Are you leading a digital transformation? If so, does it emphasize customer experience and revenue growth or operational efficiency? If both, how do you balance the two? Customer growth generally drives revenue, the top line. Operational efficiencies drive the bottom line. Both are in the sights of the CIO. Digital transformation is happening through all of my IT portfolios

Describe the maturity of your digital business. For example, do you have KPIs to quantify the value of IT? We do have KPIs that quantify value throughout most of the IT portfolios. I continue to struggle with managing and measuring software development productivity and value. Point systems help in estimating, but they are not very accurate and there are many distractions to measuring with points. Any help here would be appreciated!

What does good culture fit look like in your organization? How do you cultivate it? We celebrate the TRHC Way. The TRHC Way consist of 32 fundamentals. These aren’t one-word descriptors like perseverance or knowledge, they are more like guidance on the spirit of our culture.  “Do the right thing always,” “Walk in your customers shoes,” “Celebrate success,” and the other fundamentals help to guide one’s thoughts and actions. We start every meeting or gathering with a recitation of the fundamental of the week and someone’s anecdote about what that fundamental means to them or how they have seen it in action. It is a compelling framework!

What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate to be) the most difficult to fill? A great UI/UX designer is hard to find. Blockchain skills are also somewhat scarce. Good, correct platform engineering (Cloud) is getting more and more complicated - platform engineers are also difficult to find.

What's the best career advice you ever received? Lead from the front then get out of the way! I stole this a long time ago and have lived it for many years.

Do you have a succession plan? If so, discuss the importance of and challenges with training up high-performing staff. I have a succession plan, but none of my proposed successors are ready yet. But they’re almost there. A staff member is a product of their education, experience, and aptitude. The only thing I can help with is the education part. The other two are mostly out of my control. I continuously look for opportunities to educate and inform, in order to advance my leadership team.

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? There is a lot of talk around meeting tables. Believe me, your boss wants less talking and more doing.

What has been your greatest career achievement? The career goal I’ve always worked toward is recognition of my accomplishments by my peers and by those who are respected in my industry. While I have achieved a measure of success toward this goal, I continue to strive toward more recognition. I am also very proud that Tabula Rasa HealthCare went public (NASDAQ: TRHC) in September of 2016, and we continue to grow and prosper.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? In at least two of the positions I’ve held, I would have more strongly advocated for more staff. I respect the constant tension between IT and Finance regarding resources, but the demands on IT are forever growing; never lessening. It’s hard to catch up once you have a resource deficit.


What are you reading now?
The Outsiders by Thorndike is next up; it’s about CEOs. The CIO needs to know what the CEO is thinking.

Most people don't know that I… Am a just-above-mediocre drummer. But my philosophy is: the more equipment I have, the better drummer I am.

In my spare time, I like to… Play competitive soccer and fly radio-controlled airplanes and helis.

Ask me to do anything but… Attend a 7:00am meeting!


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