Finding Your Path to Your “Informaticsville”

All of us have taken a unique path throughout our professional life to get to where we are now. While it all may seem somewhat like aimless wandering, it seems to come together in the long run. My story is no different. Twenty-five years ago, I had not imagined that, at some point in my career, I would be, helping influence and direct the technology strategy of a $1.2 billion integrated healthcare delivery system in Michigan. I started out as a fresh graduate from medical school (All India Institute if Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India) in 1993 and have never stopped learning since. I did a residency in Family Medicine from West Virginia University, completed a Master’s program in Medical Informatics at Northwestern University, taught medical students and residents, established and directed an adult Hospitalist program for 10 years, learnt how to navigate and negotiate with healthcare enterprises and crossed over to the “dark side” as a CMIO about 10 years ago. Now, as a Senior Vice President and CIO for an academic healthcare enterprise with 4 hospitals, 60 plus ambulatory locations and a medical school, I am responsible for a team of more than 250, managing the health care technology experience of more than 9000 employees, 1400 medical staff and a million and a half patient interactions each year (and enjoying “almost” every minute of it).

It all began by my asking too many questions of the wrong kind (why, how and when can we have/not have  …..). I was drafted in to help solve the “concerns” that I was complaining about. The “ah ha!” moment happened when it dawned upon me that I could actually help grow the tech systems and tools to become a powerful ally for understanding and improving the healthcare outcomes of our communities. I decided to jump all in and thus began my journey through informatics. Another critical factor was finding the right mentor to help learn from. It helped me grow my vision and challenge myself and be inspired. The third big lesson that I have tried to carry through is knowing that there is room for a cacophony of opinions and dissent while still moving in the right direction. In a room full of individuals, acknowledging that each one of us have a different perspective and will take a different message home is very important for success. And in the end, what matters the most is that there is a huge opportunity to close the gap between where we are now and what is possible. It is up to all of us to seize the chance and make this happen (or it will be done to us and we may not like the end results) .

About the Contributor

Ashutosh “Ash” Goel, MD, is Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer for Bronson Healthcare. His responsibilities include: overseeing the global IT strategy for the organization, managing effective use of the electronic medical record, facilitating the use of technology to improve and coordinate patient care, and developing and enhancing the use of data analytics throughout the health system to make informed decisions that support better clinical and business outcomes. In addition, he practices medicine as an adult hospitalist on a part-time basis.

He completed his medical education at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi in 1993 and his graduate medical education at West Virginia University - Charleston Division. He is board certified with the American Board of Family Medicine. He also holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill. in medical informatics. In addition, he is a member of the College of Healthcare Information Executives’ Certified Healthcare CIO (CHCIO) program and sits on the HIMSS Physician Advisory Group. He also holds a faculty position at the WMU Homer Stryker MD School of Medicine, Department of Bioinformatics. Dr. Goel is a member of the HIMSS Physician Committee for FY18.