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Transforming Data into Healthcare

A New Opportunity to Make a Difference

Monica Puga didn’t begin her Memorial career working in Information Technology. In fact, Monica started her career as an RN in the Radiology department nearly 18 years ago at Memorial Hospital West. After spending 8 years on the clinical side of the healthcare equation, she decided to make the leap into the world of IT. “I decided to make the jump and move into IT eleven years ago when meaningful use was becoming a requirement, and our offices needed to transition from paper to electronic health records. So I came into IT to support our new service line and deploy electronic health records to all of our ambulatory physician offices,” she explains. Now over a decade later, Monica is the Vice President of Population Health at Memorial Healthcare System. Her career journey has afforded a front-row seat to the evolving nature of modern healthcare.

“I’m always grateful for the opportunity to have been a clinical leader and given the opportunity to move into IT. It was one of the best professional decisions I’ve made. But my expertise allows me to bridge the gap between clinical workflows and technology while focusing on our strategic imperatives,” says Monica.” At that time, I knew very little about technology, but I embraced it and believed we needed more of it.” While her role doesn’t call for extensive technical prowess, Monica can leverage her clinical expertise, leadership abilities, and her overall understanding of how to put patients first, ensuring their safety and the safety of their families and caregivers. By aligning her IT team, she can make sure the best decisions are made for our patients and for the healthcare system.

Monica also works closely with Memorial’s IT teams to ensure they’re educated on Value-Based Care and the program’s initiatives. She states, “Technology enablement is of strategic importance to this organization. It’s a core foundation of everything we do here. Fortunately, I work with the best and brightest in South Florida.” Our team doesn’t only hire people in the technical field; we’re a dynamic group made up of professionals from various areas of health care, including nurses, clinicians, pharmacists and physical therapists. Monica says, “I feel like it’s a blessing and a privilege to be able to understand the technology side and be able to lead a program like value-based care.”

With the pace at which technology is changing the industry, it is challenging to find curious, qualified and self-motivated people to keep up with our organization’s growing demands. Monica exclaims, “What I look for in a candidate is personality. Someone who is positive, upbeat and caring. I ask them questions about how they learn because no one knows everything. I ask if they’re inquisitive. Do they ask questions? Can they research? Are they analytical? The people who answer yes to those questions or show those traits are the kind of people I look for.” As we grow as a healthcare system and adopt new technologies, these roles and others will become increasingly important, as will the select few who can do them.

Learn more about #teamMHSflorida’s Population Health Department and what career opportunities await you.

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The IT Revolution

Data as a Tool

Healthcare and technology have always been intertwined. And this interconnection has lead to the tools we use to diagnose and treat patients evolving to further enhance the practice of patient care. Now with the ability to harness data like never before, information technology is at the center of the new healthcare revolution. Oscar Perez, Vice President of Information Technology at Memorial Healthcare System stated “Not only can we better treat our patients, but we can begin looking at ways to prevent the need for treatment in the first place with the use of technology.” His team is always on the move, strategizing and understanding the organization’s technology needs in order to translate that technology to continually improve patient care.

As the VP of Population Health, Monica Puga has built a team of experts whose job is to improve the outcomes for an entire population, and prevention is a key to accomplishing that goal. Monica’s team is comprised of some of the best and brightest people in all of South Florida, and not just in the technical field either. There are clinicians, nurses, therapists and others who seamlessly blend their clinical knowledge with their technical expertise — allowing Monica and her team to make the best decisions for our organization, our patients and their families. By tapping into the data, they can genuinely help patients own their health in a way that just wasn’t possible even a few years ago.

That’s where Ana Rodriguez, the VP of IT and Clinical Informatics, and her team come in. The system they’ve built has fundamentally changed how our doctors and nurses diagnose, treat and care for patients. It allows doctors and nurses to share valuable information that literally saves lives while significantly reducing medical errors. Making for safer, more efficient treatments and drastically improving patient outcomes. Rest assured, that whatever new, technological advancements come along, Memorial Healthcare System will remain a place where technology and medicine coalesce.

As our capabilities grow, so does our need for intelligent, curious and passionate people to join our team. The culture at Memorial is second to none, and so are our opportunities for career growth. It’s no wonder why so many of our team members make us their home. From our CEO on down, we understand the importance technology will play in the future of medicine. As an organization, we’re committed to becoming the most technologically advanced healthcare system in South Florida and beyond.

Being a part of Memorial Healthcare System’s IT team allows you to make an impact on patients and their families. Discover how you can help #teamMHSflorida use technology to improve patient outcomes using data by visiting our careers page.

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Modernizing Healthcare

Tapping Into Clinical Knowledge

Over the past few decades alone, the healthcare industry has undergone rapid growth and change thanks to new emerging technologies. But few have had as great of an impact on clinical outcomes as our ability to harness data and use it to our patients’ advantage. No one understands this better than Ana Rodriguez, Vice President of IT and Clinical Informatics for Memorial Healthcare System.

For nearly 30 years, Ana has been a part of the Memorial family. Beginning her career as a Pharmacist, she eventually joined our IT team, where she could put her clinical knowledge and skills to use implementing an IT system that would reshape the future of health care at Memorial. But Ana isn’t the only one who shares this unique perspective on IT; her team does as well. “We have a large group of clinicians who are a part of our Clinical Informatics IT team, such as pharmacists, nurses, therapists and doctors who really understand workflow and how to best design our systems,” she says. But their work doesn’t end there, “We also do all of the clinical systems training for clinical areas, for new modules that are implemented and for new employees being on-boarded, our team provides the user training.” This hands-on approach ensures new employees can efficiently utilize our clinical systems to maximize their safety benefits.

We believe that one of the best ways to improve our patient outcomes is by investing in our staff’s development. As Ana says, “We develop our own talent and not just from a technical perspective, but from a professional developmental and leadership perspective. We have one of the best leadership development programs. It has helped retain most of our staff here for many years.” Our focus on internal development provides our staff with a means to advance their career, while providing enhanced value to our organization and our customers.


Learning the Language

Many challenges await anyone trying to break into an IT Clinical Informatics role, especially if they’re new to the System. As Ana puts it, “The hardest part is to learn the language; to learn the technical background. What is an interface? What is a server? What are the various operating systems? You have to be the translator between the vendors and technical folk who speak one language, and the clinical folk who speak the other.” This bridging of “languages” is what allows our IT Clinical Informatics team to work so effectively and create systems that enhance our clinicians’ capabilities.

While it may seem like a tall order, the rewards for achieving that level of proficiency are worth the effort. “You have the opportunity to exercise your creativity. As a clinician you can utilize your background and clinical workflow knowledge to look for solutions to some of our toughest challenges,” says Ana. One such solution was the addition of bar codes when we first introduced our electronic health records. Memorial was one of the first hospitals in South Florida to utilize this technology. Since its implementation, we’ve almost completely eliminated medication errors for our patients. But safety isn’t our only goal; we’re also looking to increase efficiency. By implementing technologies like Smart-ID Pumps, we’ve lightened the load for our nurses. They no longer have to program the pumps themselves as it’s all seamlessly tied into our medical records, and any changes are automatically updated. This has the added benefit of minimizing errors and improving the already exceptional care our patients and their families’ experience.


What’s Next? 

At Memorial, advancing technology has always been a strategic priority. And as precision medicine, artificial intelligence (AI), and other digital health advances evolve into a reality, you can rest assured that we will be on the cutting-edge of healthcare technology. Technologies like AI will allow us to better manage patient populations in ways that are just not possible right now. “Historically, medicine has focused on treating problems as they’ve arisen, but that’s changing. Now, we’re looking to predict and prevent things from happening so we can keep people healthy,” Ana replies. “We’re really looking to help people own their health. And we’re seeing a shift with Telehealth, remote patient monitoring and wearable biometric devices. Things that didn’t exist when we first started implementing electronic health records and are going to have a huge impact on how we treat patients in the future.”

Learn more and explore what’s in store for your future as a member of our IT Clinical Informatics team.