Population and Public Health

Black History Month Member Spotlight: Sean Michaels, DNP, MBA-HCA, MSN, RN, CHCIO, CDH-E, CPHIMS​

We celebrate Black History Month

HIMSS is celebrating Black History Month by spotlighting HIMSS members who are making a difference for underrepresented minority communities. HIMSS has supported its members in initiatives to remedy racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare like the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021, the annual Global Health Equity Week, and celebrating black excellence at the HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition.  

Today, HIMSS is highlighting Sean Michaels, DNP, MBA-HCA, MSN, RN, CHCIO, CDH-E, CPHIMS. Sean is the AVP, IT Project Management, Business Relationship Management, IT Process Optimization, & Technology Business Management at Orlando Health.  

Sean has been a HIMSS member since 2011 and is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS).

What inspired you to pursue a career in health IT, and how has your journey contributed to advancements in the field, particularly for underrepresented communities? 

Growing up in Miami, my mom was single for a good portion of my childhood. Even when she later remarried, we still struggled financially and did not have access to regular healthcare. Our medical visits were typically reserved for urgent/emergent situations in the ER or walk-in clinics. My healthcare journey began in the military. I had the desire to help people and the military provided a vehicle to gain the education to do so along with access to regular healthcare; both of which were transformative experiences.    

Over my career, I have worked as a nurse in a variety of settings but was drawn to health IT because it provided opportunities for a positive impact on a larger scale. I was able to help and care for those who were providing direct care. As I became more involved in health IT, my awareness of these and other opportunities increased. I also experienced how technology was initially contributing to a digital barrier for healthcare access. This was impacting those who not only did not have physical access to healthcare but also those who did not have access to technology. Understanding this, and having experienced healthcare disparities growing up, I have been able to bring a unique and diverse perspective to each initiative that I am a part of to help solutions be designed that take into consideration the whole person and what they may or may not have access to.   

Can you share a specific initiative or project you've been involved in within the industry that has positively impacted addressing health disparities or improving healthcare access for marginalized populations? 

Two initiatives that I have been a part of that come to mind that have helped address disparities in healthcare are the COVID-19 vaccine process and the use of virtual capabilities or telepresence to provide care. With the vaccine process, I was fortunate to be part of a phenomenal team that designed a technology solution that facilitated mobile documentation and delivery of vaccines. This initiative not only made vaccines accessible at no cost, but it also allowed a group of clinicians to go to a community location where residents were not able to physically travel to the hospital. We not only delivered vaccines efficiently, but also ensured that the process was designed with empathy and inclusivity.   

The virtual capability of health IT has allowed care to go where the patient is. I had the privilege of participating with another amazing team that established a hospital-at-home program, enabling care to be delivered in patients' homes without the need for hospitalization and without the need for the patient to have existing access to technology. This same technology, combined with telepresence, has also facilitated virtual consultations and is even being used by some organizations to provide virtual clinics in schools. These initiatives underscore the potential of health IT to bring healthcare to where the patient is, breaking down geographical and accessibility barriers.  By leveraging technology in healthcare delivery, we not only improve access but also enhance the overall holistic patient experience. We ensure that patients receive care in a comfortable and familiar setting, promoting wellness and reducing stress. It's a testament to the transformative power of health IT, and it inspires me to envision a future where technology continues to revolutionize healthcare accessibility.   

How do you envision the future of healthcare technology playing a role in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion within the industry? Are there specific areas where you see opportunities for positive change? 

Technology's role in healthcare is nothing short of visionary. It is revolutionizing healthcare and has the potential to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion on an unprecedented scale. I imagine a future where healthcare technology is not just a tool but an essential and empathetic component of the healthcare journey.   

In this future, healthcare technology recognizes and celebrates the diversity of the holistic human experience. It doesn't just provide care; it uplifts the individuality of each person it serves. Personalization and precision become the norm, and healthcare is tailored to meet people where they are; and how they are. The healthcare landscape transforms into one where disparities are not just addressed but eliminated. Technology becomes a bridge, connecting communities and individuals with the care and resources they need. It doesn't discriminate based on geographical location, condition, or access to technology; it actively works to bridge these and other gaps.   

There are numerous areas where I see opportunities for profound and positive change. Firstly, telemedicine and remote monitoring will continue to play a pivotal role in making healthcare accessible to all. However, we must remain steadfast in ensuring that these technologies are designed to accommodate the diverse needs of our communities.   

Secondly, artificial intelligence and data analytics hold the promise of uncovering and addressing health disparities. These tools have the potential to revolutionize how we identify and mitigate inequalities and needs in healthcare delivery. Cultural competence in technology design will be paramount, ensuring that healthcare solutions respect and adapt to diverse cultural norms and practices. This will be key to providing patient-centered care that resonates with individuals from all walks of life.   

Furthermore, mentorship and education programs, facilitated through technology, will continue to empower underrepresented individuals to enter the health IT field. Diversifying our industry enriches it with fresh perspectives and ensures that healthcare technology truly reflects the diversity of the communities it serves.   

Lastly, addressing biases in algorithms and data collection remains an ethical imperative. We must ensure that healthcare technology doesn't perpetuate or worsen existing disparities. This requires ongoing vigilance and commitment to fairness and justice to ensure that technology serves as a force for positive change in healthcare, leaving no one behind.   

Interested in becoming a HIMSS member like Sean? Learn more about a HIMSS membership

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