Meet Our Members: Susan Wozniak, MPH, CPHIMS, FHIMS

Susan Wozniak, MPH, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, senior business analyst at Allscripts, is the recipient of the Spirit of HIMSS Award.

Established in 2003, the Spirit of HIMSS award recognizes members who exemplify the mission of HIMSS through their recent volunteer efforts within the Society. The award is given to a member or group of members monthly in recognition of their service to the advancement of the healthcare profession as encompassed by the HIMSS mission. 

Wozniak has experience in various aspects of health IT, including: system selection; implementation project management; systems integration, process improvement, and department management. She has managed implementation projects and system selection including: clinical and revenue cycle systems, laboratory information systems (LIS), picture archiving and communication system (PACS), clinical documentation, clinical data repository, nurse call, and patient tracking systems. In 2009, Wozniak was certified as a lean facilitator after leading a project to improve nurse call response on a medical/surgical unit. The effort resulted in improved response time, decrease in number of calls, improved patient satisfaction, and improved staff satisfaction. Wozniak is currently pursing certification as a professional coach.

She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Technology from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., and her Master of Public Health degree from University of Illinois. Wozniak has been an active HIMSS member since joining HIMSS in 2001, and has served on the Greater Chicago Chapter board for 10 years as treasurer, president (twice), and professional development chair.  She has also served on the HIMSS Chapters Task Force and the Management Engineering-Process Improvement Committee (MEPI). Certified as CPHIMS in 2004, Susan advanced to HIMSS Fellow in 2008. She has served as annual conference reviewer for the past three years. Wozniak has promoted the CPHIMS certification and has taught the CPHIMS review course four times. She is currently serving on the HIMSS Meaningful Use Center of Excellence Task Force.

HIMSS: How did you become involved with HIMSS?

Wozniak: I became involved in 2000 when my new boss encouraged me to join HIMSS. He knew HIMSS has great resources, and that I could learn a lot from other HIMSS members. After attending a local chapter meeting, I became involved in meeting planning for the local chapter. After a year, I was encouraged to run for a Treasurer on the Greater Chicago Chapter board.

As a new board member, I attended a chapter leadership training class. I learned the responsibilities of being a board member, and I also learned how much HIMSS invests in its members so that we can be successful leaders. I then became involved in the Chapter Leadership Training and the Chapters Taskforce to be able to help new board members succeed.

HIMSS: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your involvement with HIMSS?

Wozniak: I have met so many creative and committed health IT professionals from across the country through my involvement with HIMSS. In many cases, I know I would never have met them, if not through a HIMSS conference, local chapter event, or HIMSS volunteer opportunities. This has enriched my personal network and my career.

Another reward of involvement has been the opportunity to teach. I have taught the CPHIMS Review Course four times. In accepting HIMSS’ invitation to try something new, I was able to improve my speaking skills and develop the confidence to search out new opportunities.

HIMSS: Please describe some of the milestone events in your career.

Wozniak: I am proud to have served on the Greater Chicago Chapter HIMSS board during a period of significant growth in the chapter. We have consistently improved and expanded our educational and networking offerings for the benefit of our members. We have reached out to the provider, vendor and student communities. Our student members are some of the most active in the chapter, and they are the leaders of tomorrow.

I was privileged to lead a high-performing team to implement an EHR system at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital in 2000-2001. Our team implemented registration, clinical and patient registration, and billing applications in a big bang approach. I was later recognized as the Manager of the Year due to the success of the project and our great team effort.

In 2009 I facilitated a LEAN-Six Sigma project to improve the nurse call response process on a medical-surgical unit. The result was a reduction in the number of calls by more than 10 percent, decreased cycle time to respond to patient requests, and improved patient and staff satisfaction. It was a win-win for patients, providers and process.

HIMSS: How did you demonstrate leadership to earn this award?

Wozniak: My colleagues on the Greater Chicago Chapter board could probably tell you better than I can. I am organized and keep good records. I have a long memory for what happened in the past and a passion and curiosity for doing things differently and better. I plan projects, and then, I work with the team to drive the plan to a successful result. I work to find a way for everyone to win and I always try to be fair. I continue to be active in the chapter as ‘historian’ and participate in the scholarship committee.

HIMSS: What are the most notable changes you’ve seen in the field of health IT over the course of your career?

Wozniak: Over my career, health IT has moved from interfacing to integrating to interoperability. I started my career in the late 1970’s as a medical technologist at a hospital laboratory that had an early LIS. I think it was the start of my move toward health IT to be part of that transition from paper requisitions with hand-written results to interfaced lab equipment and printed results. This represented an improvement in efficiency, safety and quality. Later, that lab system was interfaced to a clinical information system and a reference lab. Today, interoperability is an essential aspect of transforming healthcare.

Our systems must be interoperable, not just because it is the right thing to do to improve patient health outcomes and reduce the cost of care, but because it reflects the fact that providing care is a collaborative partnership. We have to work together. Our systems have to work together, and we have to break down barriers between people and systems.

Mobility and user experience are other notable changes. There was no digital “mobility” at the start of my career. Then, there were wireless networks and computers on wheels. Now, cell phones and tablets are transforming how systems are accessed. The focus on improving the experience for the user is making great strides toward more efficient and safer systems. If you thrive on change, health IT is the right place to be.

HIMSS: What advice would you give professionals just entering the healthcare or IT field?

Wozniak: I have had the opportunity to talk with new members and people who are looking to get into healthcare and health IT. I tell them to join HIMSS. Check out the HIMSS website. Pick a topic: meaningful use, mobile health, business intelligence, nursing informatics, process improvement, advocacy…it’s all there. The Health IT Body of Knowledge is a great place to start.

Other advice: Get involved. Go to a local chapter meeting, attend a webinar, volunteer on a task force related to your interest and profession.

Follow your passion and be creative in matching your skills and interests to the work you choose to do. Build a network with people within your field and outside. Look at every challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow. Never stop learning.