This Week Health


September 15: Today on TownHall Reid Stephan, VP and CIO at St. Lukes interviews Andrea Daugherty, Interim CIO & Director of IT Security and Infrastructure at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin. What was her unconventional journey to her current CIO role at Dell Medical? What initiatives has she led to help build optimization and collaboration within the organization? What is she most excited about looking into the future of her position?

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Today on This Week Health.

There's so much discussion and buzz around innovation and how are we gonna be, an innovative institution and leapfrog our competition.

But I think what people fail to realize, or sometimes just simply overlook. is If you don't have a very strong foundation, none of that matters, right? It's all throwaway work.

Welcome to This Week Health Community. This is TownHall a show hosted by leaders on the front lines with interviews of people making things happen in healthcare with technology. My name is Bill Russell, the creator of This Week Health, a set of channels designed to amplify great thinking to propel healthcare forward. We want to thank our show sponsors Olive, Rubrik, Trellix, Medigate and F5 in partnership with Sirius Healthcare for investing in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders. Now onto our show.

Welcome to this week, health community town hall conversation. I'm Reed, Stephan VP and CIO at St. Luke's health system in Boise, Idaho. And I'm joined today by Andrea darty, the chief information officer at Dell medical school at the university of Texas in Austin.

Andrea, welcome and thanks for making the.

Thank you for having me.

You got it. Hey, I'd love for you to start. Just share a bit about your background, your education path, your career journey that's led to this role you have today. I think it's a great way for folks to get to know you. And then also there's great learnings in people's career journeys.

Yeah, absolutely. I have somewhat of an unconventional path. I feel like to where I'm at today. So I started out right outta high school. I knew I wanted to be in healthcare and I was actually pursuing the pharmacy track. I thought I wanted to be a pharmacist, went to school at St. Louis college of pharmacy one year in, and I realized that this was not what I wanted to do with my life.

But I still knew that I wanted to be. In healthcare and I wanted to figure out a way to make it work. So I ended up transferring back to university of Missouri in Kansas city, my hometown go cheese. That's where I'm from. And I had an opportunity. I was working as a pharmacy technician at the time and they were actually upgrading their it system.

And so. I took an interest in that. And that was very early on and I had no idea how I would make it work. I'd switch majors from, pharmacy to biology and then double majored in business as well. And I just knew it would come together at some point. Well, as most people know, Kansas city is the home of Cerner.

And so when I graduated, of course, naturally you know, I was recruited. and my first role at Cerner was actually a learning consultant. And so I specifically focused on physician education. So not only was I creating, but I was also facilitating physician education. So this was in the area of CPOE.

We have everybody's going live with physician order entry. And I really took an interest in just being able to work side by side with physicians and not only training them, but learning how, their workflows from the past. And in doing that, I somehow became inspired. I, actually know how I'll save that story for another time, but I met this physician who was.

89 years old. And so he, wow. Only ever documented, still practicing and, very sharp. He'd only ever document it on paper. And he said, this computer system is gonna cause me to retire. And I said, well, you know, at that point, it was like, I'm committed to helping him learn that it's not that difficult.

Yeah. . And so we did some one-on-one training and, at the elbow support and he became a super user over the course of like three months. But during that, that three month span where he and I worked really closely together, we started talking about the actual practice of medicine and kind of my background.

And he said, maybe you should think about med school. I thought he was crazy but I actually went on to study for the MCAT I scored really well. I actually applied to five medical schools, got accepted to four of the five, and then unfortunately my father passed away unexpectedly. And so in that moment I made a decision to just kind of pursue the healthcare technology track as opposed to the actual practice of medicine.

And I'm glad I did. I mean, I spent almost five years at Cerner, went on to work for a provider really as a consultant. They were a legacy Cerner lab legacy client, the last one, actually , to migrate over to. Path net and Cerner millennium. It had been paused for some time.

I came on, I revived the project. We went live in 11 months from five separate instances to a single enterprise lab solution. Built a team, did that for a couple of years. And then I just really got kind of burned out on the application side of things and really wanted to focus more inward I wanted to learn the infrastructure.

Cybersecurity was something that was a growing concern. And so at the time I approached my then manager and said, Hey, I have a crazy idea, but would you be willing to create a position for me in cybersecurity? If I go obtain my C I S S P certification and create a strategic roadmap for this team that I wanna build, we're a 3.4 billion organization, five hospitals.

Over 300 ambulatory sites at the time were sites of care at the time, just because we were in acquisition mode and he kind of looked at me and smiled and he's like, yeah, I mean, it's gonna take you a while, but okay. So three months got my C I S S P came back, wrote the job description for this new role.

He took it to my CIO at the time, and. Yeah, absolutely. Right. We do need a cybersecurity program. And if Andrea's willing to lead it, let's give it a shot. And so I led that program. So we went from not having now mind you, I had no experience in cybersecurity outside of doing my own education.

But you know, I mean, it was very interesting to me and I had. A lot of respect within the organization. So I was able to build a team of 12. We had some managed services as well. We implemented a SIM endpoint management, all of these really cool things that are really fundamental now. And I led that team until I decided to come to Texas.

you know, I came here to do the same thing, build a cybersecurity program for the med school or a healthcare vertical. And within three months of being here, I inherit. oversight for infrastructure networking and my responsibilities continue to grow until last year when I was appointed to the CIO role.

So it's been, it's been a crazy ride, but a fun one for sure.

Yeah. And you mentioned it's kind of an Orthodox, but I don't know anyone whose career path isn't to some degree, a bit on Orthodox. Right. And I, as I talk to people, there's these common threads that I've observed in everyone's career journey when they have a successful career, one is they have a belief in themselves.

They're not afraid to change their mind or try new things too. There's typically a mentor or some leader that identifies something in them. They maybe have seen or perceived on their own. And third is that they are, they're just lifelong learners. Like they're willing to continue to learn and invest in themselves going forward.

Absolutely. And that's kind of the secret sauce. Yeah. I love what you described though about this, you were a consultant learner or a learner consultant. and you worked a lot with providers, and I think that that is a great foundational component of your career. I've noticed certainly for those that come into healthcare, physicians kind of have this mystique, right.

And people don't quite know maybe how to talk to them or , they think they've gotta like walk on eggshells. And sometimes that impairs the ability to collaborate and to effectively serve them and to figure out how to work together. So it seems to me that you don't have any of that trepidation at all, because it's just such a common experience and you see them like you should as colleagues and people and people that collaborate and want to do the very best work they can.

Yeah, absolutely. I think it was a very, I was very fortunate to have that experience early on in my career. Because it just, as you said, right, it gave me an opportunity to really get to understand them. And I worked with, Specialties across the spectrum. Right? So surgeons, neurosurgeons, neurologists, I mean, yeah.

And it really, it gave me a different perspective of how to approach, the gap between the actual delivery of care and technology mm-hmm . And so I feel very fortunate to have started my career in that capacity because I've met. Colleagues and peers along the way where they've kind of worked backwards.

And so it's always very interesting, but for me, I feel like that was a very important part of my foundation. And it also gave me, I'll say it gave me a lot of confidence to continue to kind of push forward and yeah. Maybe explore the unknown.

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Yeah, I think that's great. Okay. You brought up the chiefs and today is the kickoff of the NFL season.

Yes. And so if I can just, if you'll just humor me a football analogy of blocking and tackling. And so I think about that from an it lens. I don't care like how gifted the CIO is, like how visionary, how maybe steep they are in early startup investing and these kind of cutting edge things they want to do.

If there's not basic blocking and tackling in place. it Just doesn't matter, just like on an NFL team, if Patrick Mahomes doesn't have an offensive line, I don't care how gifted he is it's going to be a problem. So let's just talk for a minute kind of sharing your role at Dell. Some of the things that you've had to focus on from a blocking and tackling perspective that maybe don't get coverage or the attention they deserve, but are just foundational to any world class it shop.

Yeah, absolutely. We call this the not sexy work, right? I think. There's been so much, especially lately. And I think the pandemic really shined a lot of light on this, but there's so much discussion and buzz around innovation and how are we gonna be, an innovative institution and leapfrog our competition.

But I think what people fail to realize, or sometimes just simply overlook. is If you don't have a very strong foundation, none of that matters, right? It's all throwaway work. Yes. And so, that was a huge opportunity, I think, for me to come in and make a significant impact in this role was really addressing those fundamental things.

Dell Med Was founded seven years ago. And we really pride ourselves and brand ourselves as being this really innovative institution. That's not only changing how people get and stay healthy, but how the physicians of the future are educated. Right. So you gotta have something to back that up and while we've done an excellent job of being kind of innovative and on the forefront, right.

I think there has been a lot of opportunity for us to continue to optimize our foundation and. Project management has been one of the things that I kind of dived head first in, and it was really, something that we recognized we needed to do. But nobody wanted to take ownership of, and in two parts to be fair.

that. We stood up our PMO in:tives that we had launched in:

And so I saw that as an opportunity to kind of come in, right. With some momentum there's some change in, leadership and it's an opportunity for me to come in and say, okay, here's a quick win. So I started with it governance. Right. It's bringing everybody to the table and kind of airing everything out right

here's the organizational demand. Here's the capacity of it based on what services we offer today. Like how do we collectively as a leadership team, . Kind of synergize and determine what is the best value brings the best value to the entire organization? And I was met with some opposition initially, I think people were like, why are we talking about this?

It's obvious, well, what's important to one pillar may not be important to the other pillar. And so, yeah. It was very important for me to get all of these really brilliant minds at the same table and just have some open dialogue. And you know, it's been great, right. We've had some bumps in the road, but we've made tremendous Leaps and bounds in terms of maturing our PMO or optimizing it, if you will.

, it's truly been a transformation over this last year. You know, I have a leadership team who previously, they were just kind of living in this siloed realm in which they didn't necessarily interact with other leaders throughout the organization if they didn't need to. But now there's this mindset of.

Well, I need to bring this individual to the table, or I need to bring this individual to the table so we can collectively make a decision as opposed to kind of making it unilaterally. So, there's some culture change that happened in there as well, but it's been really amazing to be a part of that.

And lead that effort at our organization. And I think the other part of it too, is just the value that we're giving back to our customers. Right? So now it's not this ABIs that, their, it requests come into this abyss. We don't know when, what's gonna happen to them, but now there's structure in place.

There's reporting in place, there's meeting people understand that there has to be some onus on them, right. They have to take ownership of what they're asking for. But then also. Work partner with it to achieve what it is that they're asking for. So it's, been great.

So that's project management. I think the other aspect of it too, is some of our, rationalization application rationalization, right? Yeah. If you've ever anybody that's ever been in a startup, I think there's a lot of excitement in the beginning and it's like, let's buy this, let's buy this.

And sometimes. The strategy doesn't overlap, right? And so we end up with a lot of very siloed or independent applications or technology and it doesn't really lend to the future strategy of the organization. So, again, really using those relationships that I've built, it's coming together, bringing them all together and say, Hey, okay, what are we doing with this?

Does it make sense for us to keep paying X dollars? For this solution. And what's our ROI, have we got anything back on that any return on our investment. And it's really eye-opening, especially to those leaders who, maybe don't necessarily think of things in kind of that business acumen and it sheds light.

And so then they start thinking about it and asking questions that maybe they wouldn't have otherwise. So, yeah, I mean, it's not glamorous um, Sometimes you make enemies, but more often than not, you build some really strong relationships and you create opportunity for people to get involved in ways that they hadn't previously.

Yeah, I think that's so well said. And it, builds credibility as you were talking. I just, it struck me like, we need a campaign to , make being brilliant at the basics. Cool. Again, to let that be, what's like a headline on Becker's. Right. Instead of, I love that innovative brand new. Yeah.

Cause it's. It's a rising tide that benefits everybody. I also think what I've observed in our team is it's really healthy for your it department because you have those folks who that's their, the majority of their job are these basic blocking and tackling functions. And if they always feel like it's kind of.

In the back corner and dismissed and not as valuable or important as this new shiny object that can be kind of demoralizing. So as we've tried to shine a light on this work, that just because it's, been around for a while and it's well understood doesn't mean that it's any less important or valuable than this other work we're doing.

That might be newer and not quite as underst. I think you articulated that really, really well. Last question. So as you look to the future in your role there at Dell medical, what are you most excited about?

Oh, that's always, I always love this question because there's so many things. I mean, I kind of going back to kind of my journey, right?

I've always been interested in healthcare and the reason for that is the impact to drive change be it with providers, be it with patients, there's an ability to have an impact that I feel like is far beyond any other industry. And so that's, what's kept me in healthcare. So with that said, I mean, I think as we look towards the future and some of the technologies that are coming available I'm really excited about kind of continuing to focus on that patient experience.

Right? How do we make. Receiving care as seamless as possible for our patients. Right. I went through, I had a pretty significant health event earlier this year. And I'm the one, now granted I'm thankful that I have my experience and so I know how to coordinate things, but it was.

When you're trying to recover from something significant, the last thing that you wanna do is try and coordinate care, right? So I'm between two different health systems. And of course the integration's not there. So they're not able to send images and records. So I'm requesting images from an inpatient stay here to be sent to an outpatient provider here.

as a patient. All I wanna do is recover. I want my clinicians to be able to coordinate my care and I just wanna be on the receiving end of it. Do I wanna have some say so input in it? Absolutely. But I don't wanna feel so overwhelmed with trying to recover after experiencing a significant health event that I just kind of, I withdraw myself right now.

Granted, I didn't do that, but there's a lot of patients that do. Have that experience, right? It becomes so overwhelming for them that, maybe they don't follow up with the specialist that they needed to, or, they missed lab draws that were imperative to a diagnosis or a medication administration.

So I think really being able to, improve not only interoperability, but also the coordination of care and meet patients where they're at. I think there's some really amazing technologies out there that can help us get.


Yeah, agree completely. That's kind of my, as I look to the future, that's the area that just really kind of rises to the top is how do we just distill the effort outta the whole experience, whether it's the patient, a family member, the care team, there's just, there's too much effort required at too many stops along the way that absolutely that make it harder for everybody.

And it is at the end of the day, it's about the experience. So amen. and with that Andrea, thank you for taking the time today. Delightful to visit with you and appreciate the thought you've shared. Yeah.

Thanks. Re

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