My work experience in the healthcare field goes all the way back to high school, when I worked in the cafeteria tray line at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York. After college, I began working for a large nursing home in their procurement and information services departments. At that time, New York State was implementing a program to determine reimbursement rates based on services and treatment required for the patient, called Resource Utilization Groups or RUGS. It was at this point in my career that I was thrust into interoperability or data integration.
The Health System where I was employed agreed to be an alpha site with the State of New York to transfer their RUGS data electronically. The work was fascinating to me! I worked with a developer from the State University of Brockport to create the required files (through a custom software application) that was sent to the State for processing. We sent the files using an encryption key methodology and a 2400-baud modem.
When I made the move from New York to Fort Lauderdale, FL, I started working at Broward Health as a Network Engineer. Over the course of ten years I elevated myself to the role of Vice President and CIO. During this time, I was always heavily involved in the technical requirements of a very large public health system. It was during my tenure at Broward Health that I was introduced to HIMSS. I worked on the South Florida Chapter board for several years and turned over my Presidency when I left to work as a consultant.
Today, I am Vice President for TELUS Health and manage the US consulting team, which includes an integration vertical where the team helps hospitals and HIEs with their integration needs. Throughout my ten years as a consultant, I have sat on several HIMSS Committees, developed whitepapers and environmental scans and am currently the Chair of the HIMSS Interoperability & HIE committee. I spent a significant amount of time in New York City, became involved with the HIMSS Chapter there and eventually served two years as their Chapter President. I am now back in Florida full-time and serve as Treasurer for the Central Florida HIMSS chapter. I really enjoy the work with HIMSS; it provides an excellent source of networking and education and it allows me to give something back to the healthcare community.
My current views on integration and health information exchange were modified a bit when I was diagnosed with AL Amyloidosis, a bone marrow disease treatable at just a few cancer facilities in the US. I had my treatment and stem cell transplant at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Three years later, I am doing quite well. However, having medical records in both New York and Florida makes it difficult to coordinate my care, treatments and laboratory test data. Interoperability has thus become very personal to me. Each system I am involved with is different and often the only documents that can be exchanged between systems are scanned PDF-type documents. I do all of the coordination of these documents myself, making sure my health teams have all of the required medical information needed for my care. I suspect that there are many other examples of this happening to patients across the country and I hope that my work and that of others will continue to improve the seamless flow of data between disparate systems.
About the Author:
Joe is an accomplished information services and healthcare management professional with 25 years of experience in implementing and managing healthcare information systems. Joe leads the professional services practice for TELUS Health in the US and uses his strong provider based experience, coupled with his extensive knowledge of the HIE landscape, to deliver innovative and practical solutions. He was most recently employed with the fifth largest public healthcare system in the United States. His 5 years of experience as the Vice President and CIO of a major Florida hospital district has allowed him to become an expert in the management of a wide variety of complex and demanding projects. Joe is a HIMSS Fellow, Treasurer for the Central Florida HIMSS Chapter and the Committee Chair for the Interoperability & HIE committee.