Judy McCarthy is Chief Technology Director for National Jewish Health. She is responsible for the overall design, implementation, operations and support activities for the comprehensive computing infrastructure of the organization. McCarthy has led a development team in the implementation of a patient portal and is responsible for the technology strategy, actively seeking ways to leverage the integration of business processes with emerging technologies to streamline operations.
McCarthy has over 25 years of health IT experience focusing on technology, applications and IT leadership. She is a board member of the Colorado Chapter of HIMSS, and the current chairman of the HIMSS EIS (Enterprise Information System) committee. She holds a master’s degree in computer information systems from Regis University, Denver, Colo. and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Ball State University, Muncie, Ind.
HIMSS: How did you become involved with HIMSS?
McCarthy: I am a registered nurse by trade, and have been involved with health IT for over 20 years. HIMSS is THE organization for those of us interested in supporting health IT initiatives, and my work with the Colorado chapter prompted me to become involved on a national level as well.
HIMSS: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your involvement with HIMSS?
McCarthy: I have thoroughly enjoyed working with leaders from different organizations and with leadership within HIMSS. Working on the EIS committee and chairing it this year has allowed me to interact closely with people within different areas of healthcare, such as ambulatory, acute, vendors, technical and application orientations, and public policy. I have also been given the opportunity to provide guidance on high profile areas, such as meaningful use guidelines (all stages, especially stage 3) and other public policy statements, as well as assisting with the development of the MU Symposium and MU Experience that were a huge part of HIMSS13.
HIMSS: Please describe some of the milestone events in your career.
McCarthy: My health IT career took off once I obtained my master’s degree (MSCIS) and began managing teams working on various clinical applications, and then later, more technical teams. I have had the pleasure of managing development teams that built both the physicians’ and internal web portals, and now, a patient portal for my current institution. My overall goal, and the reason I stayed in healthcare after going into IT from nursing, is to improve the quality of care given to our patients. Providing the technology to assist in this endeavor, be it technical or application based, is the key to our overall success. I also see my tenure as president of the Colorado HIMSS Board and my current experiences as Chairperson of the HIMSS EIS committee as milestones because these roles have allowed me to expand and increase the use of health IT.
HIMSS: What do you hope to accomplish this year as chair of the EIS Committee?
McCarthy: Overall, my goal was to bring our committee together and build meaningful information for our HIMSS members to use in their roles and at their institutions. I believe we have done that by conducting two fantastic webinars aimed at providing overarching and detailed information regarding sharing data with patients, specifically with patient portals. We also had committee members expand on the meaningful use tool built last year to encompass stage 2 and the changes from stage 1 to stage 2, and recently conducted a training webinar on how to utilize the tool within an organization (EP or Hospital). This year, we’ve encouraged discussion in our meetings about real issues facing each of us resulting in a strong and flexible committee, with members taking on additional tasks as needed for HIMSS.
HIMSS: What are the most notable changes you've seen in the field of health IT over the course of your career?
McCarthy: One of the most wonderful changes I’ve seen is the increase in engagement and adoption of health IT and meaningful use applications. I’ve seen leadership get involved and be a part of the governing structure to determine health IT priorities, which is vital to a project’s success. I’ve also seen the scope of roles and jobs change dramatically, promoting use of staff as super users and providing the ability for staff members from all areas, such as nursing, admissions, billing, etc., to play a key role in application development and design as well as assisting in implementation support (and beyond). The other notable change I believe is the increased understanding among leaders as to how the underlying infrastructure affects our ability to deliver quality care to our patients.
HIMSS: What advice would you give professionals just entering the healthcare or IT field?
McCarthy: It is a great place to be right now. There are many variations to job opportunities and an increasing need for new/expanded roles; additionally, there is a shortage of professionals needed to implement health IT for meaningful use. Becoming certified in various applications and tools is a great way to differentiate your skills while searching for a job.