A: Previously, you held senior leadership positions at some major tech companies. What inspired you to move to the healthcare sector?
NM: I began my career with AT&T and started as a COBOL programmer for billing systems. I later ended up working for Dell, and after working in a couple other verticals, I was placed on a healthcare account in Texas. That’s how I first got introduced to healthcare IT. Healthcare is a unique vertical in that, even as part of IT, you feel connected to the mission of caring and healing. At Dell, Lucent and AT&T, I was able to develop great technical skills, but now I truly feel that the projects I work on are making a difference in people’s lives.
A: In your experience, how do the technology challenges facing the healthcare industry differ from those that other industries face?
NM: Research shows that healthcare lags behind other industries in digital transformation. Part of the issue is it’s a heavily regulated environment. You can’t just pivot, make a change and move on. Many health systems previously bought best of breed solutions, but they find that systems aren’t interconnected. This creates data challenges if you can’t connect information from disparate systems to get to insights needed for decision making. Older legacy systems are harder to adapt and the standards for interoperability between proprietary and disparate vendor systems aren’t there.
We have many biomedical devices with data that aren’t connected to systems. And like every organization, we have security challenges. For us in healthcare, these security challenges are life impacting.
A: How is Orlando Health using new technology, such as analytics and AI, to improve services to members and patients?
NM: To make the shift to AI and analytics, you need a solid EHR and data and analytics core in place. Right now, we are replacing our disparate EMRs and other technologies with a core foundational system. This will allow us to evolve our maturity and have the right set of tools to better take advantage of data and analytics. We’ve also recently hired a chief data officer. I have people dedicated to maintaining legacy systems, growing and transforming our applications portfolio to a more products-based business capability enablement offering, and I have a team that works on transforming through innovations. For example, as we work on a major project to implement the comprehensive health record, we also work with the business to identify needs, and in an agile manner build an app or put a veneer on an existing solution to help get providers better ways to connect with consumers and patients.
A: Can you tell us more about recent initiatives or innovations that you are excited about?
NM: Absolutely. For one, we created a newborn lab screening app to help with triage and screening for 54 potential medical disorders among newborns. If they meet certain criteria, we determine whether they need further diagnostics and develop a care plan quickly. Another innovation that comes to mind is our screening for traumatic brain injuries. Some sub concussive injuries often show no symptoms, but they are very damaging over time. We worked with the ED and Nursing Research on a tool that can identify high risk TBI patients, some of whom may have had concussions but are not receiving sufficient care for a full recovery. If a patient screens positive, the TBI team will receive an e-mail or page alert, and a consultation for concussion care will be generated automatically.
A: What do you enjoy most about your job?
NM: I’ve been here about two years and I love every day of my job. I’m a people person and problem solver. I can do all of that in my job. Of course, some days are challenging, but I am very fulfilled by understanding and addressing people’s needs. I’m fearless and tireless in my job.
A: You are originally from Jamaica. What do you miss most about home?
NM: Like every kid who leaves their home, I miss it. I grew up in a small town in the middle of the island. I’m a country girl. My roots are deep and the community from which I came is small and literally the village that wrapped its arms around you. I miss my family, but I am close enough to go back two to three times per year.
A: What do you like to do outside of work?
NM: I enjoy spending time with my grandchildren—they are 8 and 5. Their parents drop them off with me for a week sometimes. We have such a great time. I was excited to learn the recent news that I have another grandbaby on the way. It has been hard not seeing everyone during the COVID pandemic. I look forward to that changing soon.