AN INTERVIEW WITH AN INDUSTRY PROFESSIONAL
WHO defined health technology as the application of organized knowledge and skills in the form of devices, medicines, vaccines, procedures, and systems developed to solve a health problem and improve the quality of lives. Now, the role of information technology in the healthcare sector is inevitable. The development of a health care system is best visualized if we compare how we were thirty years ago and how we are today. To learn about this new and promising field, I got an opportunity to interview a few industry professionals. They were from different areas of the medical field that have a strong connection with the technology.
Among the interviewees, I got along in a great way with one of the professional, Nursing Informaticist who works closely with patients as well as information technology. During the interview, she was very interactive. We had a nice sort of conversation instead of strict questions and answers. I gave most attention to their role, the structure of their department, about the major vendor, usage of Project Management in regards of IT projects, their biggest daily challenges, greatest accomplishments, and finally the job outlook for new professionals in the HIT.
The nursing informaticist, Liz has been working at Norwalk Hospital which is a part of Western Connecticut Network Health(WCNH) for the last five years. To start, I asked her about how did she find the interest to come into the informatics field, “burned out of bedside nursing” she laughed and replied. She had been working as a nurse for 30 years and was seeking for a career change. When there was the opening for a field which can use the prior knowledge of nursing and advance the career in a related stream of healthcare technology, she took that opportunity and became an informaticist. She creates special forms for recording patient information such as head to toe physical assessment which help the workflow of nurses.
She works closely with end users(providers) for helping them to clarify their queries and concerns regarding the technology. When I asked about who and all work under her, she replied in a funny way ” nobody works under me. I am the bottom”. She reports directly to the manager. Above the manager, there is three layer of leaders Director, Chief Information Medical Officer and Chief Information Officer who monitor the progress of the work.
Afterward, Ms. Liz gave an overview of WCNH and its strategic plan. WCNH comprised of three hospitals Danbury, New Milford, and Norwalk. She explained the strategic plan of the WCNH; it was to join the three hospitals into one platform. They utilized a BigBang approach to bring these disparate systems to talk to each other. It was an interesting point that their vision went well with financial and clinical systems which use Cerner- the major vendor of WCNH, but not with a few departments such as dispensary system, and payroll system which use other vendors. They have other vendors for the Gastrointestinal department, Case Management, and Cardiology. But these systems are integrated with Cerner. She also added that probably Cener is not the best of breed system.
Later on, Ms. Liz talked about the role of project management in IT. They are the one who monitors the work, decides the timeline and make sure that the employees will complete their work within that time limit. In this way, they standardize and optimize the process which enables the hospital to provide better care for the patients.
Everyday Ms.Liz receive a lot of complaints from the end users. That is her biggest daily challenge she faces. She expressed that her biggest accomplishment as informaticist would be BMDI(Bedside Medical Device Integration) which use in the areas such as the Intensive Care Unit and Emergency Departments for facilitating the automatic upload of clinical data such as vital-signs of the patient into the patient’s medical record. When I asked about what will she suggest to new professionals in HIT; she paused for a second and told: ” Learn all you can, there are plenty of opportunities”. Many medical facilities still use the paper form for keeping the patient information. In the future, they need professionals who have knowledge in the health information technology to convert these documents into a digital one.
The interview with Ms. Liz gave me a new perspective on healthcare and health information technology. The balance of informaticists’ knowledge in both healthcare and technology field can guarantee a successful patient-centered care. Though they face a number of challenges, they work hard to reach their goal, which is better healthcare outcome.