Genetics of Hospital Technology
By Edward Neville Maltass, CIO, El Centro Regional Medical Center
The way it was…
As we all know and remember, not only has the healthcare sector changed immensely, but over the past 30 years the world has gone from being non-technical to everything we touch is now technically connected, or based on technology.
I can recall as a young boy my parents calling our family doctor and the doctor responding by visiting us at home. Patient records were on paper and physicians focused just as much on building a relationship with your family, as they did on treating the patient. In short, there used to be more of a personal relationship with your practitioner. Fast forward and that personal relationship between physician and patient have become more distant, a different kind of professionalism. Treatment of the patient is now based on data analytics and what I’d now call Technical Genetics of a hospital and its patients.
Asking patients to fill out forms, and transferring those forms manually from registration, to lab, to radiology is history. The government has interceded by creating a mandate that medical facilities capture and analyze all patient data, and share that data electronically with other practitioners.
"Technology is meant to remove the road blocks before us, in order to allow our humanity more time to shine onto others"
During the transition over the years from the personal and manual processes, to professional and automated processes – there have been major improvements. Today, more than ever, patient records are easily shared between a private physician’s office, hospital, and patient. Sharing of records and coordination of care ensure patient safety such as identifying drug allergies, which has the potential of saving lives.
El Centro Regional Medical Center believes that adopting technology and embracing the new professionalism doesn’t mean that we abandon the personal customer service that is so important to our patients and our community.
While my AMAZING Information Systems Department and TEAM focuses on migrating data centers, standardizing hardware and software, updating infrastructure and consolidating a best in breed electronic medical record (EMR) mentality to a one patient one record system, our leadership team which is headed by Dr. Adolph Edward, reminds us every day that healthcare is personal and the focus is on the patient.
The focus on the patient and personal customer service started with changing the work culture, and creating a “team or family” minded environment. The change at first was subtle, but progress is seen in every hallway.
The technology that changed the Genetics of how hospital care used to be given is moving into the background and our leadership and employees are moving forward to being who we were all meant to be: human beings caring for each other.
Moving up the ranks, from a technician early on in my career to a Network Administrator, then into a Network Engineering position at United Technologies on the Star Wars Defense Initiative – Network Manager at Motorola Paging, to Technical Ambassador at Tivoli Systems, then as Managing Director of Partner Services at IBM Global Services, CEO of EVI Holdings Inc., COO and CIO at Nexus in Egypt, and CIO at now two hospitals in the USA including El Centro Regional Medical Center – I’ve lived the IT Genetic Dream Career.
Yet, over the years I’ve learned one simple, yet crucial thing throughout this journey.
• Telemedicine allows skilled physicians to virtually reach out to patients in rural and remote locations and provide better care.
• EMR’s like Cerner, EPIC, and others – allow for interoperability and instantaneous data analytics, and data sharing between the patient, hospitals, labs, pharmacies, and physicians.
• Wi-Fi and the Internet have allowed data and research to be moved from desktop devices to smartphones, tablets, laptops, watches and iFit bracelets helping to speed up medical care.
The challenges that El Centro Regional Medical Center and other medical facilities have throughout the country are the following:
• Technology is very expensive
• Technology changes fast, and training is always lagging
• As social networks grow, patient privacy and security becomes more of an issue
• IT Departments have a growing number of devices to manage:
• Voice and Video over IP communications
• Computers, Thin Clients, & Printers to name a few
• Keeping up with proprietary technical certifications
• Balancing between low hardware and software cost, with high-quality assets
The Life of a CIO
A CIO is more of an orchestra director, visionary, and poet.
We focus on creating an environment with our highly skilled and motivated technical employees, that allow for collaboration, cohesive team work, transparency, brain storming strategy sessions, thinking out of the box, playing devil’s advocate all while maintaining one's faith, and building relationships with every department through a technical ambassador mentality.
Similar to how our human genome changes due to our environment; such as with disease, chemicals, and radiation – The Genetics of Technology and our job changes daily and it’s our duty to keep up with the pace of change.
And though so much of a CIO’s life is about technology, we all have lives to live. We have a personal family blog, where we share our life, travels, finance, investing and career tips; all to help guide the next generation.
A Servitude Attitude
In our line of work, our daily duties are always challenging; however, we must always remember that we work in a service industry. Our goal; our mission if you will is to always ask “How Can We Better Serve You”!
We must look forward to improving the quality of care, expanding our reach to those in need, reducing costs, becoming more efficient and never forgetting to interact on a human level with our internal and external customers, and always be compassionate with our patients.