Celebrating National Health IT Week Posted on October 5, 2017 In honor of National Health IT Week, we sat down with a few colleagues from Connecticut Children’s Information Technology team to discuss what’s next for healthcare technology and information security. John Shepard, Chief Information Security Officer John sets the strategic security vision for Connecticut Children’s, including defining the security standards that protect patient information and growing the security culture across the organization. In your opinion, what is the top IT challenge healthcare institutions will face in the coming year? The healthcare industry is an increasing focus of cybercrime. Medical information theft is rising across the globe. Investing in people, process and tools is needed to help keep pace with the security challenges for how to grow the business beyond today. Why did you decide to pursue a career in IT? I’ve always been fascinated by electronic devices, and enjoyed taking things apart to see how they worked even if I couldn’t put them back together quite the same way. A high school teacher had the first computer in the school and I learned how to write programs. This continued as I earned my degree in Computer Science and Engineering. I discovered I could use my computer knowledge within the security profession and have been doing so for the last 25 years. What attracted you to Connecticut Children’s? My son was a patient when he was very little, the caliber of the doctors and nurses left a positive impression on me. When I heard of an opportunity at CCMC, each of the individuals I met before joining the organization emphasized the mission to help children. This is a mission I also support. Kyle Lee, Director, Enterprise Data Warehouse Kyle’s role is to provide Connecticut Children’s with clear, fact-based data that can be utilized to make tactical and strategic decisions for the organization. What attracted you to Connecticut Children’s? The mission – after spending years as the owner of a solutions provider organization and as a leader in fortune 500 financial institutions, I wanted to work for an organization that has a mission that resonates with me personally. What has been the most rewarding IT project you’ve worked on at Connecticut Children’s? Any project that contributes to improved clinical outcome. The most exciting and rewarding projects are always clinical ones. Making a difference in the lives of our patients even if in some small way is and always will be the best part of working here. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the field of IT? IT is such a broad field with so many disciplines. Even within the narrow field of Information Data Warehousing, there are so many skills required to be successful. You frequently have to assume many roles. Sometimes you have to think like I finance person, other times, a clinician, always like a technologist. All the time bridging the gap between the business and clinical world and the world of technology. It is always a challenge and is much more of a creative process than I had thought all those years ago. Matt Reilly, Senior Manager, Systems Engineering Matt leads Connecticut Children’s team of systems engineers, database administrators, interface/integration analysts and web developers who design and support the computing infrastructure for the Medical Center. What attracted you to Connecticut Children’s? Quite simply, the mission. I have worked for large Fortune Global 50 organizations and adult-based non-profit healthcare institutions and none of them have provided the natural boost of energy and satisfaction that comes with working for an organization with this mission. One walk through the Medical Center’s hallways provides tremendous perspective and motivation to my team and I while we provide the necessary support our clinicians and staff need to treat and care for our patients and families. What is one example of a challenge health institutions face when it comes to IT? With the advent of the electronic health record and the ever decreasing cost of disk and database storage, we collect and store massive amounts of data throughout the care coordination process. This is the easy part. The challenging part is organizing, analyzing and providing this data to our clinicians in real-time so we can provide what’s called predictive analytics. That is, being able to provide, with a high degree of certainty, evidence-based care plans and anonymized research data designed to help keep our region’s kids healthy and out of the acute care areas of our Medical Center. We have talented teams doing this work today and it’s an exciting area which will only continue to further enhance the quality of care to our patients. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the field of IT? It’s challenging yet rewarding and requires long, odd hours at times but at the end of the day you have the ability to make a difference in a very broad scale. If an IT career interests you, make sure you enjoy learning (it never ends!) and can embrace and adapt to change quickly as nothing is constant for long. Kitty Walker, RN, BSN, Clinical Analyst, Ambulatory Support Kitty Walker works with clinical staff, such as physicians, nurses, and medical assistants, in the Ambulatory departments to customize and maintain Connecticut Children’s electronic medical record system. What attracted you to Connecticut Children’s? I was an ICU nurse at another hospital and I wanted to care for children so I began working in the PICU at Hartford Hospital in 1987. I transitioned to Connecticut Children’s when the hospital opened in 1996. There were many new career opportunities when the Children’s Hospital opened so I pursued a position in the Pediatric Cardiology department. While in Cardiology, I specialized in care for children undergoing Cardiac Catheterizations and Electrophysiology procedures, and preparation for Cardiac Surgery. This clinical experience included care for children and families in the outpatient setting as well as in the OR/PACU and inpatient areas. Why did you decide to pursue a career in IT? While working in Cardiology, I had a lot of exposure to different computer systems and software applications, both in the Cath lab and in the Cardiology office. I enjoyed learning and working with these systems. When Connecticut Children’s began the [electronic health record] project there was this new opportunity to learn and work with the electronic system. I was excited to be part of the project from the beginning, to learn new computer skills, and to help clinical staff transition to the new electronic health record. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the field of IT? Working in the IT department involves so much more than just working on a computer. It involves working with people, analyzing workflows, managing projects, coordinating and facilitating meetings, problem solving issues, building and testing in the electronic health record system, and more. Our system is very integrated and it allows end users to enter patient data, easily retrieve patient information, and to track patient trends promoting patient health and safety. My goal as an analyst is to make that process easy and efficient for all users as they provide thorough and safe care to our patients and their families. Staci Garbowski, Instructional Systems Designer Staci Garbowski is a nurse and an educator. Having worked at the bedside, she uses her clinical perspective to help clinicians learn how to use the electronic health record in their daily practice. Why did you decide to pursue a career in IT? It actually found me. I was looking for a new challenge, so when I learned about the project to adopt a new electronic health record, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to blend my skills as a nurse and my love of technology. What has been the most rewarding IT project you’ve worked on at Connecticut Children’s? Right now is an exciting time in IT/electronic heath record education. With the 2017 upgrade, we are starting to convert some of our standard classes into online learning. My role on this project is both doing the creative work and acting as a mentor/teacher to other educators. I enjoy being a resource for my peers in IT. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the field of IT? I think some clinicians who may not think they are tech-savvy are hesitant to get involved with IT, but we need clinician engagement to continue to improve the technology. Jason Coleman, Lead Interface Analyst Jason Coleman manages the exchange of clinical and non-clinical data between systems, both internally and externally. His team often refers to themselves as “Data Plumbers.” Why did you decide to pursue a career in IT? I’ve always enjoyed technology and thought it would be a great career path. After working briefly for an ISP I moved into health IT when I got a position at Windham Hospital, where I stayed for 12 years. There really is a difference working in health IT versus other sectors and it provides a constant source of inspiration. What has been the most rewarding IT project you’ve worked on at Connecticut Children’s? Generally, my favorite projects are the ones with direct clinical impact. One which stands out was when we updated the lab interface to send discrete source information for cultures. In turn this allowed the lab system to generate barcode labels for our microbiology tests instead of the printed requisitions we had been using. It sounds like a simple thing but it required a lot of coordination and effort between our team and the lab. The end result was a better workflow for both sides and improved patient safety. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the field of IT? Health IT is still a young industry and is going through some growing pains. We try to keep the focus on outcomes rather than on specific technology. Technology is a means to an end, it should never be the goal itself.