Healthcare and medical technology: a chance to make a difference
“We help bring miracles of medicine to market sooner, which can save more lives.” – Hmong Vang, Covance
Big changes and new trends are spurring healthcare advancements. Healthcare pros say the field is a great one if you want to impact lives
By Laurel A. McKee Ranger
Geoffrey Brown is chief information officer and vice president of Inova Health System (Falls Church, VA), a nonprofit healthcare system that serves more than two million people each year. His long experience in the healthcare industry gives him a unique perspective on current trends in the area of healthcare-related information technology.
Brown sees two major trends in the healthcare field at this point. The first is a focus on “medical home,” a team-based healthcare delivery model that emphasizes comprehensive and continuous medical care, and uses a combination of technology and services.
The strategy is associated with newly targeted preventive care plans and a drive to lower readmission rates, which figure prominently in the payment reforms associated with the Affordable Care Act.
Big data analytics
The second trend is new attention to research and analytics. “The new buzz word is ‘big data.’ In the past we have done our analyses retrospectively, looking at past patterns,” Brown says. But today data analysis focuses on real-time trending and even prediction, with the goal of early intervention and prevention. Current analy-tics mean that “changes in protocol can happen daily or even hourly, based on core measures,” he explains.
The biggest change that Brown has seen in the past five years is the move from paper healthcare workflows to digital. That has created a need to push the envelope on interoperability, the exchange of data and logic between systems and devices. True interoperability “allows data to be presented in a useful way to consumers,” he stresses.
Diversity in management
Brown is also seeing greater participation of minorities and women in senior-level IT management and technical positions like analytics, informatics, system analysis, database administration and more. “Is it where I’d like to see it? No, but progress is obvious even though there is more work to be done,” he adds.
Workers with special skills needed
Catherine Kapferer is human resources director of diversity and inclusion and director of university relations at Covance (Princeton, NJ), a drug development service company. She says careers in the life sciences and healthcare industries are popular. She points out that the industry does not have a shortage of applicants, but does have a shortage of workers with diversified skills and ready-now knowledge.
The industry is changing fast, says Kapferer. “It is critical that jobseekers understand the global marketplace and industrial trends, and then discover what skills they will need to support the role they seek. For example, information technologies and the sciences are converging, and organizations require the expertise to work across these complex disciplines. Companies will need workers who can embrace scientific and technological processes and solutions that drive business efficacy and efficiency in healthcare. It will be critical for employees to invest in themselves by exploring, practicing and mastering their unique skill sets,” she says.
Inova’s Geoffrey Brown: improving healthcare by streamlining IT
As CIO of Inova, Geoffrey Brown supports the development and implementation of strategic plans that complement company goals. “A lot of my work is around aligning various technologies to provide Inova with ways to improve the business and the way we operate.”
The Inova healthcare system includes five hospitals with 200 to 300 staff physicians, and more than 3,300 additional physicians who refer patients into the system. “We have a close working relationship with the community and a safety net for uninsured patients. We do $200 million a year in uncompensated care. We are the largest healthcare provider in northern Virginia,” he says.
Brown has seven direct reports as well as a staff of approximately 300 IT professionals. He also works with consultants who are subject matter experts.
His own role within Inova is extensive, particularly in the area of interoperability. In 2009, he was responsible for implementing advanced clinical systems and financial systems. He sets the strategy for adopting new technology, looking at disparate technologies and ensuring they interoperate effectively. He sets the standards for new systems and helps eliminate waste.
He is also involved at the state level, working with the IT standards committee. “We’ve been making sure that within the healthcare community, patients are consistently identified. No matter where in the healthcare system you show up, your records should be available seamlessly to the healthcare providers,” he says.
Building his foundation
Although he was born in Oxford, England and grew up overseas as an Army brat, Brown spent his formative years in the Midwest and in Georgia.
Before receiving a 1990 BS in business administration from Kennedy Western University (Agoura Hills, CA), Brown earned his wings as a programmer in the banking industry, working at CNS Bank in Atlanta, GA, and then with a telecom as a data center manager. It was a volunteer job with a home hospice organization that set Brown on a path into the healthcare world.
“I developed a program for them that went over well. A year and a half later an opportunity came up with a hospital, and I’ve been in the healthcare space ever since. It was the first time I felt my work was really making a difference for others,” he says.
In 1990, Brown started working at Grady Hospital (Dekalb, GA) as director of IT under an outsourcing contract with HBOC, a medical information systems firm. In 1994, Brown joined Tenet Health System (Dallas, TX) in Atlanta as director of the technology team, and in 1997 he became CIO there, supporting the strategy for its network. In 2002, Brown became associate hospital administrator for two hospitals within the system.
“In December 2003, I got a call from the administrator at Grady Hospital who wanted me to establish the clinical informatics program there. I stayed with Grady until I joined Inova as CIO in 2005,” says Brown.
Drawing from diverse experience
Brown credits his background as a longtime senior leader in IT and his reputation for providing good customer service, being technically proficient and establishing informatics programs with helping him secure the position at Inova.
Although he has faced barriers and challenges along his career path as an African American, he says, “If you are able to effectively leverage technology, it becomes less of a barrier.” Today, Brown is a Fellow with the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME).
A diverse career background can translate into effective solutions. Brown found that his experience with early ATM technology back when he was working in the banking industry is useful today. “Initially there were no standards for interoperability. Customers had to use their own bank’s ATM and the information wasn’t shared between banks. You couldn’t get your money after hours. Now you can travel anywhere in the world and log onto different networks to access your bank account.”
In 2013, Brown received a national award from CHIME for his state advocacy and work educating legislators on healthcare reform. “The initial reforms were begun under the Bush administration and the work has continued under President Obama. We are working to increase integration and efficiency, which means changes for patients, families and organizations,” he explains.
Brown is on the board of directors for the local Virginia Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS).
Recruitment and retention at Highmark
Sara Oliver-Carter is vice president of diversity and inclusion at Highmark Inc (Pittsburgh, PA), a nonprofit healthcare company with businesses in health and dental insurance, vision care and information technology. Highmark is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
“A diverse workforce is critical to our success. The marketplace is constantly changing and diversity sparks innovation. Leveraging the diversity within our organization will help us meet the needs of our consumers,” says Oliver-Carter.
Oliver-Carter says that Highmark has relationships with historically black colleges and universities and historically Hispanic colleges and universities. It also works to include veterans and people with disabilities.
“We have outreach activities in the community, looking for top talent and building the Highmark brand on campuses. I am also building partnerships with community-based organizations that have connections to top diverse talent,” she says.
Highmark has an ongoing relationship with the National Black MBA Association local and national chapters and is building relationships with the National Society of Hispanic MBAs and diversity-focused organizations in the financial and actuary areas. The company has a relationship with the Black Data Processing Associates that supports its growing needs for IT professionals.
“Our IT organization has a two-year IT rotational program for college recruits that gives new IT pros the opportunity to build skill sets and offers a lot of opportunity for development and growth,” she says.
Diverse business resource groups at Highmark support women, African Americans, Hispanics, people with disabilities, and LGBT employees. There’s also a group that focuses on intergenerational communication, and a veterans’ group is in the works. “The goal of these groups is to integrate diversity into the everyday functions of business, so Highmark succeeds in serving our diverse consumer base. Participation is open to all employees,” Oliver-Carter says.
Highmark’s Louise F. Stutler: from keypunch cards to real-time operations
As director of the claims business platform at Highmark, Louise F. Stutler supports claims processing for nearly four million members. She also directs, supports and drives a division of about 120 geographically dispersed fulltime and contract technical business analysts.
“We adjudicate and pay based on the members’ policies. That includes claims from doctors’ offices, hospitals and pharmacies. We process close to a million claims a day. It’s definitely interesting. One of our biggest issues is keeping up with government mandates, new guidelines and changes in benefits,” Stutler says.
The IT business teams at Highmark also handle claims from other BCBS affiliates, and are in the process of bringing Independence Blue Cross, which covers the Philadelphia area, onto the Highmark platform. “We’re extending our reach,” says Stutler.
Building a wealth of experience
Stutler grew up in Clarksburg, WV. She got a diploma in the applied business program from the School of Computer Technology in Pittsburgh, PA (1977) and is a certified Information Technology International Library (ITIL) foundations service manager.
She has thirty-six years of experience in information systems, much of it in the healthcare industry. In 1977 she started as a computer operator with a glass manufacturer in Clarksburg. Over the years she has seen epic changes in technology and industry. “When I first started as a computer operator, I worked on machines whose programs were loaded from cards decks, and there were no terminals. I eventually became a supervisor of key punchers, then a junior programmer,” she says.
In 1982, Stutler moved to Pittsburgh and began working as a contractor for the Computer Task Group (Buffalo, NY) doing development in banking, finance and other areas. In 1987, she moved to California and worked in IT for a hospital there. Two years later she moved back to Pittsburgh and found a job with Allegheny General Hospital, supporting patient registration, medical records and billing systems. She left in 1997 to become a healthcare consultant for Elumen Solutions (Overland, KS), a company that provided IT business solutions for hospitals across the U.S. In 2000, she became a contractor at Highmark and then was hired full time as a senior application developer in 2004, supporting membership and enrollment systems. She moved into the claims area in 2006.
Technological and social progress
Through her years in the industry, Stutler has seen major changes not only in technology, but also in the social and workplace climate. As vice president of the Delta Foundation, a nonprofit LGBT organization that supports Pittsburgh’s LGBT community, Stutler was instrumental in getting Highmark to become a corporate sponsor of Pittsburgh Pride in 2009. “I was able to make the business case to senior leadership, using Harris Poll data. The LGBT community has brand loyalty and will pay more for products if they know a company supports LGBT employees. Highmark was our first corporate sponsor in 2009, and in 2013 we had twenty-eight corporate sponsors.
“In 2009 we also started the LGBT business resource group at Highmark. We help the company market to the LGBT community and make sure everyone is treated fairly. We’ve come a long way. Sara Oliver-Carter and her organization have been very active in making Highmark an inclusive place to work,” she reflects.
“I’ve seen Highmark change a lot since I first came here. In 2006 Highmark introduced same-sex spousal benefits for employees, and in 2007 they added domestic partner benefits for straight and LGBT employees who weren’t married. Sara’s organization reviews all Highmark’s communications, policies and benefits to ensure that the language is inclusive of the LGBT workforce. My wife and I have been together for twenty-five years and were legally married in 2006.”
Carestream Health: an eye on global recruitment and development
“Diversity plays a critical role in our overall recruiting strategy. We look to identify, recruit and hire the best talent around the world. At Carestream, we know that our greatest single asset is our people, and we strive to foster a culture where our employees are excited about what they do and want to continue to take on greater, more rewarding challenges,” says Mark Heinlein, global director of talent management and internal communications at Carestream Health (Rochester, NY), a medical imaging consumables, software and equipment manufacturer.
As a global company, Carestream looks around the world for talent. “We value diversity at all levels and pride ourselves on an inclusive culture that promotes innovation, creativity and collaboration,” he says.
Carestream’s development programs are also global. They include job rotation programs, leadership development programs, employee development programs and mentorship programs. “In addition, we have a comprehensive talent development strategy that provides tools and processes to enable employee career growth,” says Heinlein.
The company partners with a number of colleges and universities to provide employees with development opportunities. This list includes Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern and Villanova University. A tuition reimbursement program lets employees add credentials and grow their careers.
“There continues to be a high demand for top talent in the medical imaging field,” Heinlein notes. “As we continue to add innovative products, we look for talent to help us grow and lead the industry.”
Kanika Fay Wright: Carestream equipment manufacturing leader
Kanika Fay Wright is an equipment manufacturing manager at Carestream Health. She manages the safety, quality, cost and delivery of the computed radiography, digital radiograph and intensified screens and cassettes operations at the company’s Rochester manufacturing facility.
Wright leads four flow/transition managers and has more than 100 indirect reports. Her responsibilities cover six product lines across three major businesses. “I make sure we meet delivery and quality objectives. Anything to do with lean manufacturing at the facility comes under me. I get involved in quality improvement in everything from assembly to sourcing of materials,” Wright says.
Wright, who grew up in Buffalo, NY, received a BS in industrial and manufacturing engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT, NY) in 2001 and an MS in strategic leadership from Roberts Wesleyan College (Rochester) in 2009. During school she co-oped for General Motors in Buffalo and at Eastman Kodak in Rochester, and was a member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, NSBE, and SWE. Wright served on the board of NSBE while she was at RIT.
After getting her BS, Wright worked at Kodak’s consumer products division as a lean manufacturing facilitator, and then as a project excellence engineer and Kodak operating system lean champion in the healthcare division. The division was spun off as Carestream in 2005. Wright became manufacturing flow manager with twenty-eight direct reports and responsibility for medical equipment and accessories in the medical equipment division. Between 2007 and 2010, Wright was purchasing manager. She took on her current role in late 2011. Wright is a certified Six Sigma black belt.
Rewards and challenges of healthcare
Although Wright did not actually seek out work in the healthcare industry, once the opportunity presented itself, she found the work rewarding. “I like knowing that my products go to hospitals to help people,” she says.
Because medical equipment is regulated by the FDA, the work can be very challenging. “You’re trying to manufacture quality products, manage cost and do things efficiently and quickly. That can be challenging when you are also tasked with meeting regulations and providing extensive documentation,” she admits.
Wright has received several awards. She’s been named a United Way leadership development program graduate, a member of Rochester Business Journal’s “forty under forty,” and one of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle’s top twenty African American leaders.
She volunteers for a number of nonprofit organizations and serves on the boards of several.
Sayeed Shariff directs tech solutions at Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA, Chicago, IL) is a national federation of thirty-seven independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies that collectively provide healthcare insurance for nearly 100 million members. Sayeed Shariff is technical solutions director for enterprise IT at the association and oversees all the development and delivery of informatics applications.
“I have responsibility for our national data warehouse (NDW) and interplan data solutions (IPDS) application, plus our business intelligence practice area. There are six fulltime professionals in the informatics group, including me, and twelve consultants. I have five fulltime direct reports,” says Shariff.
Shariff oversees many projects and releases, ensuring that applications are delivered on time and within budget. He also works with business and other internal stakeholders, such as the infrastructure and architecture teams, to guarantee that projects follow the correct methodology.
The NDW receives medical and pharmaceutical claims from member companies, and with over 100 terabytes of data, is the world’s largest medical claims data warehouse. “We ship the data to Blue Health Intelligence (Chicago, IL). Blue Health performs analytics and does a variety of studies on the data,” Shariff says.
Shariff received a BSCS in 2003 and an MS in information systems in 2005 from DePaul University (Chicago). In 2003, he began his career as an associate programmer analyst with CVS Caremark in Lincolnshire, IL. He worked for Accenture (Chicago) for a year as an IT consultant. In 2005 he was hired by Solucient, a healthcare information company, as an integration lead, and then in 2007 by credit union TransUnion (Chicago) as a technical lead.
He came to BCBSA in 2008 as a senior development lead. He is a current member of the Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI).
His job at Caremark gave him an introduction to the healthcare world. “I got to see how analytics are informing decisions nationally and globally. When I saw an opportunity to get involved with BCBSA, whose members serve one in three Americans, that was appealing. I was also intrigued by the huge volumes of data. It’s unheard of in other industries. This is very exciting from a technical point of view,” Shariff says.
Shariff grew up in Chicago, but his parents, who are Muslim, came from India forty years ago. He enjoys the diverse atmosphere at the company. “Different groups put together events throughout the year. Last fall, the Indian community put together something on Diwali and the Muslim community put together a lunch to mark the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting, in August.
“There are so many different ethnicities and nationalities here that there is great acceptance. There are many women and people of diverse nationalities in leadership positions, which shows that you are judged by your knowledge and skills,” Shariff says.
BCBS Massachusetts focuses on diversity and development
“Diversity impacts every aspect of our business. We want to make sure our workforce resembles the population of Massachusetts, and we want to encourage diversity of thought. Project management, for example, is a critical skill set here. In that role, you have to work cross-functionally and interface with a variety of business groups, so being able to work with diverse individuals is a key soft skill,” says Carolyn Mustin, director for talent acquisition at Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts (BCBSMA, Boston).
The company works with community-based partners such as the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting, which has a healthcare focus, to identify potential candidates, says Mustin.
She adds that recruiters also work with colleges and universities in the Boston area to identify candidates.
BCBSMA has recently developed a variety of rotational programs designed to develop future leaders, along with general skill building. In 2013, BCBSMA introduced Blue Express, a version of the skill-building program, in which employees can spend up to 30 percent of their at-work time working on a specific cross-functional project outside their own divisions. Managers can use the program to offer stretch assignments without moving employees out of their current roles.
BCBSMA is launching three employee resource groups in 2018: a women’s group, a black/African American group, and an LGBT group. “The ERGs will help reach business goals and strengthen the company’s existing talent development networks,” Mustin says.
BCBSMA has a tuition reimbursement program that offers $6,000 per year for undergraduate degrees and $10,000 for graduate-level degrees, as well as an extensive e-learning suite available to all associates. “This underscores the value the company places on developing associates’ skills. It’s a priority here,” Mustin reports.
Joydeep Mukherjee at BCBSMA
As director of business intelligence and technical integration at BCBSMA, Joydeep Mukherjee makes sure the company has the information to make important decisions. He also oversees testing of IT tools and makes sure that solutions are sustainable. He’s responsible for ten direct reports and twenty-six additional employees, plus ten contractors.
Mukherjee grew up in Darjeeling, India in the foothills of the Himalayas. He received a 1995 BS in computer engineering from Manipal Institute of Technology (Manipal, India), and an MBA in finance from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell in 2002.
He came to the U.S. in 1998 to work for HR company Kenexa (Wayne, PA) and then Raymond Carson Associates (Wayne, PA), a consulting firm. In 2000, he joined Tessera Enterprise Systems (Wakefield, MA), which specialized in building data warehouses, where he worked as a senior developer. In 2001, Mukherjee took a position with BCBSMA as a senior developer. Within a few years, he was promoted to architect and then director of the technical development team for the data warehouse. The scope of his job expanded, and in May 2013, he became senior director.
Drawn to data
Mukherjee was initially drawn to the health insurance industry by the challenge of working with data. He says that once he started and saw how complex the challenge was, he liked it even more. “There is a tremendous amount of data, and every day things change. The Affordable Care Act and the ICD10 classification initiative are creating a huge technological challenge,” he says enthusiastically.
But it is not just the technical challenges that keep Mukherjee at BCBSMA. “The people I work with are amazing. My boss, my core team, the whole BCBS team is very good. Twenty percent of our work involves innovation. We’ve come up with a lot of creative solutions; it keeps us engaged,” he says.
Mukherjee is an active participant in conferences, and he has volunteered with Blue Crew, an organization at BCBSMA that works with volunteer service organizations across the greater Boston area. In 2010, Mukherjee and his team won a Best Practice award from TDWI.
Marchette Brumsey at Medtronic Spinal
Marchette Brumsey is an IT manager with Medtronic Spinal (Memphis, TN). She manages a team of four program managers and oversees the IT project portfolio for the spinal business sector. The portfolio includes custom and enterprise projects leveraging SAP, CRM systems, and cloud computing. “It’s a very diverse portfolio. We work with different cross-functional teams in all areas of the business. Right now we have 110 active IT projects going on,” she says.
Brumsey works with diverse teams around the globe. “It’s invigorating,” she says. “But working across different time zones can be a challenge. It takes careful planning.”
Brumsey has a 1999 BS in applied science and electrical engineering from Washington University (St. Louis, MO) and a 2011 MBA from Christian Brothers University (Memphis). In school she was a member of NSBE, and now belongs to SWE and the Zeta Phi Beta service sorority. She is a certified business analyst, Six Sigma green belt and scrum master, and has an ITIL foundation certification.
After graduating in 1999, Brumsey took a position as a systems engineer at Audio International (Little Rock, AR), then worked as an independent contractor on aircraft cabin systems. In 2002, she was a network coordinator with the Institute of Community Services (Holly Springs, MS). There she managed technology for thirteen Head Start facilities in northern Mississippi.
In 2006, Brumsey was hired as a technical user support analyst at Medtronic, and the next year she became an IT business systems analyst. Between 2008 and 2010, she was a senior IT business systems analyst, then moved up to principal project manager at the company.
By May 2012, Brumsey was managing a $17 million IT project portfolio for Medtronic Spinal as a senior program manager and project portfolio manager. Today, as Medtronic Spinal IT manager, her responsibilities include a $24 million project portfolio.
Math by necessity
Brumsey, who grew up in northern Mississippi, says she always loved math and attributes her technical turn of mind to her home environment. “I always fixed things at home. There wasn’t a lot of disposable income so we had to make things last. You become creative and innovative and learn to do more with less,” she says.
She was drawn to Medtronic by the company’s mission and its values. “I love adding value and I can do that every day here. Seeing what we do for patients – extending life and alleviating pain – is very rewarding. We have a friend who is a firefighter. He was injured on the job and has one of our devices in his neck today. I’m proud that we were able to help him go back to the work he loves,” she says.
One of the challenges of working in medical technology is the swiftly changing landscape. “It’s our job to implement systems and applications before they are outdated. We do a lot of tactical work to determine if solutions are practical, scalable and sustainable.”
Brumsey feels that exposing young girls to engineering, math and science is critical. She mentors a high school student in Memphis and hopes she will consider engineering. She also has a thirteen-year-old son who wants to work for the FBI.
Covance is helping improve skill sets
“For Covance, diversity and inclusion are critical to business growth and performance,” says Catherine Kapferer, director of D&I; and university relations. “Diversity and university relations are an integral part of our talent pipeline strategy. By investing in and partnering with organizations and universities, we help to influence changes in industry and the occupational needs of the future.”
Covance is expanding its university relations program to focus on STEM disciplines. It works with colleges and universities to offer support and advice in areas such as curriculum design so students can learn the specific skills they will need to succeed at companies like Covance.
“People from different backgrounds and cultures bring different points of view to a company and can influence innovation and change. Our commitment goes beyond just hiring. We strive to help larger pools of talent develop the skills they need early in their careers,” Kapferer says.
Hmong Vang at Covance
As director of information security at Covance, Hmong Vang leads the company’s global information security program. He sees to it that information is protected and that it supports business systems and applications. “In a business all about capturing and interpreting data for our clients, this is a crucial job.”
Vang defines and maintains the vision and strategic roadmap for the security program and reports directly to the CIO. He has four direct reports.
He got a BS in computer engineering technology from Southern Polytechnic State University (Marietta, GA) in 2002 and is certified in risk and information systems control. He belongs to a national executive network of chief information security officers. Prior to starting with Covance in 2012, Vang worked for five years at consumer credit reporting agency Equifax (Atlanta, GA) as a senior director of global security compliance. Before that, he was with accounting firm KPMG in Atlanta as a senior associate of risk advisory services.
The fascinating world of healthcare
Vang finds the world of healthcare fascinating. “This is an exciting, growing field right now, especially working for Covance. We help our clients bring miracles of medicine to market sooner, which can save more lives. Add in all the emerging technologies, and you can really make a difference and help shorten the drug development process.”
For Vang, the biggest challenge lies in integrating emerging technologies such as cloud computing and mobility into the existing practices of medical care while maintaining compliance. “Our clients are expecting these capabilities, but technology is changing rapidly and there is a critical need to protect all that data while making it more accessible to the people who need to use it,” he says.
GE Healthcare values and celebrates diversity
Laura Reyes, diversity and engagement leader for GE Healthcare (Waukesha, WI), a diagnostic imaging technology company, says, “At GE Healthcare, we believe that as a global company, our talent should reflect the faces of our patients, our customers, and our communities.
“We value and celebrate diversity because we know diverse teams lead to unique ideas that drive the innovation necessary for success in a global market place. Our leadership team is committed to diversity and understands that in order to be the most innovative healthcare company, we need to continue to attract, retain and develop the best diverse and global talent available, and become their employer of choice.”
Program manager Marcia Di Marco works in ultrasound engineering at GE Healthcare
Marcia Di Marco is an engineering program manager with the global ultrasound general imaging business at GE Healthcare. She works in new product introduction.
She was a leader in the release of the company’s Logiq E9 imaging system in 2008. “That was an exciting product involving a complete redesign of hardware and software. We worked with global teams in Japan and Norway. I work a lot with global teams but the primary design ownership is here in Wisconsin. I have to do some travel, but we accomplish a lot through teleconferences and video conferences,” she says.
Di Marco and her program integration, verification and documentation teams ensure that new products meet the needs of the market and are manufacturable and serviceable. As a result, she works with sourcing, manufacturing, service, marketing and regulatory groups. She has eight direct reports and one indirect report.
Di Marco grew up in suburban Cleveland, OH. She has a 1995 BSEE from Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN) and a 2000 MSEE from Marquette University (Milwaukee, WI).
Impacting lives through imaging
She joined GE Healthcare through the two-year Edison Engineering Development Program (EEDP) in 1995. Di Marco knew the area she wanted to work in after she took a course on image processing her senior year. ”I felt I could have an impact on people’s lives working in medical imaging. So GE Healthcare seemed a natural fit.”
Ultrasound was one of her EEDP rotations, and she felt it was a growing area. “I also really enjoyed the talented people who worked in this group. We all help each other out.”
Di Marco received an award for women in technology at GE in 2008 for being a role model and succeeding in a technical career. She has led the technology branch of the GE women’s network and mentors women in technology within the company.
Her husband also works in the company’s ultrasound business as business manager for Latin America. “We’re an ultrasound family. We understand each other. It has worked out pretty nicely. He has always supported my career choices.
“We also have a three-year old. It’s been helpful that GE offers flexibility, so I can work at home if I have to,” she says.
Senior engineer Kiera Julius ensures product workability at Bayer HealthCare
Bayer HealthCare is a global pharmaceutical and medical products company; two of its divisions are headquartered in Whippany, NJ. Kiera Julius works as a verification and validation engineer in the radiology and interventional business unit within the medical care division. The radiology and interventional unit develops and manufactures contrast agents used in x-ray, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and also makes injection systems for diagnostic and therapeutic medical procedures used in the treatment of cardiovascular and peripheral vascular disease. It is Julius’s job to make sure that Bayer’s CT and MRI devices meet all product requirements.
“When our products undergo a design change, I make sure that the change doesn’t affect the product function, and when the change is implemented, the product still meets all the design requirements,” Julius says.
Julius, who grew up in Butler, PA, received a 2007 BSME from Pennsylvania State University (Erie) and began working at Medrad in Indianola, PA as a design engineer in the sterile disposables group.
Julius enjoyed working in the healthcare industry but left Medrad when her husband was transferred to Texas. There she worked as a biomedical engineer and NASA contractor with Wyle (Houston, TX) in NASA’s mission control center for the International Space Station.
Return to her rewarding place
When her family moved back to Pittsburgh in 2012, she networked with old co-workers at Medrad, which had become a subsidiary of Bayer, and qualified for a position. “With a degree in mechanical engineering, I had the opportunity to work in many different industries. However, having a job where the work you do every day is directly helping improve someone’s life is something you can’t find with just any job,” Julius says.
As for being a woman in what has often been seen as a man’s field, Julius says, “There have been a few times when I felt I had to prove myself to some people. But even then I think it may have been more because I was new, rather than because I was a woman,” she says.
The rewards of working in the healthcare industry became even more apparent to Julius a few years back when her younger sister was having some medical issues. “She needed a CT scan using contrast, and our contrast injector was used. It seems like everyone who works here has a story like that. Knowing that your loved ones are being cared for using products you work on every day – that’s rewarding.”
Julius is a three-time recipient of the company’s Operations All-Star award, and while she worked at NASA, she received four group achievement awards.
Wallace George: staff engineer at Life Technologies/Applied Biosystems
Wallace George is a staff engineer at Life Technologies/Applied Biosystems (Carlsbad, CA), a life sciences company that produces laboratory equipment and reagents. George creates a variety of algorithms for quantitative polymerase chain reactions and for classification of patients according to treatment response.
“Medicine is moving toward a more personalized approach based on genomics. Eventually, physicians will want to know the probability of a patient responding to a particular drug based on biomarkers. I work on algorithms to meet the challenge of identifying that probability,” he says.
Working on causes dear to the heart
George works on a variety of projects. He’s particularly interested in this type of work because it touches so many people. “My work is all-consuming and a joy. My wife recently passed away following a long battle with breast cancer, and I got very involved in that. This type of work is important to the battle against cancer. Having an opportunity to do something like this is very compelling, and I want to do as much as I can,” he says.
George received a 1990 BSME and 1991 dual masters in ME and management engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY). In 1999, he received a PhD in acoustics from Pennsylvania State University (University Park).
Between 1990 and 2002, he worked for oilfield services company Schlumberger (Houston, TX). This brought him to Houston and Fuchinobe, Japan where he worked as a staff engineer, project leader and acoustician, then to Ridgefield, CT where he was a senior research scientist and next-generation instrument developer. In 2002 he took a job as a financial and algorithm consultant and then solutions architect with Engineered Intelligence (Menlo Park, CA). In 2005, he was hired by the Money Management Group/CRG Partners (Walnut Creek, CA) where he worked until taking a position as a senior algorithm consultant and developer at Life Technologies in 2008.
Science and music: a family affair
George, who came to the U.S. at seventeen, grew up in Georgetown, Guyana. His father had immigrated to the U.S. and sent him some science books when he was nine years old. “I started reading and I was hooked. After that I just moved in a technical direction, although I was also very good at music, and that is still an avocation of mine. I still jam with friends.
“My son, though, has become a musician. He plays jazz and composes. He will be completing his masters at the New England Conservatory,” he says. He has a daughter who is at Stanford getting an MBA.
Although he clearly loves his job, George says staying on top of things can be a considerable challenge. “There are so many waves and tides to deal with. Information is coming at you at a tremendous speed, and change is particularly rapid in the area of genetics,” he says.
Tandra Wiley directs hospital tech needs at McKesson
Tandra Wiley is the director of customer support for managed services at McKesson (San Francisco, CA). McKesson Managed Services offers technology, services and support options that help healthcare organizations utilize their IT resources and improve operational performance.
“We help hospitals manage their IT needs. We can do anything from a helpdesk to IT outsourcing,” says Wiley.
Her team provides the network connectivity, secure lines and technical support that hospitals need around the clock, and proactively monitors servers. She has seven direct reports and seventy indirect reports.
Wiley comes from Dayton, OH. She received a 1988 BS in marketing from Miami University (Oxford, OH) and is a Six Sigma green belt. She is a member of Women in Technology (WIT) and OWN IT Georgia (Outstanding Women Networking, Inspiring and Taking Charge). Before joining McKesson, she had a twenty-year career in telecommunications, working in management positions for Sprint/Nextel (Atlanta, GA) and Earthlink (Atlanta).
Healthcare is the future
Wiley was hired by McKesson in 2008 and feels that the healthcare field is the future. With rapid changes coming, she is glad to be part of all the challenges and rewards. “Being in this space at this time is phenomenal,” she says. “The new Affordable Care Act impacts hospitals and we will be a part of that.”
Wiley has received numerous awards, including the Circle of Excellence award for outstanding performance at Nextel Communications for four years, and the Inner Circle of Excellence award for outstanding performance one year. This year she was a nominee for WIT Woman of the Year.
DIVERSITY-MINDED COMPANIES SEEKING HEALTHCARE
AND MEDICAL TECH PROFESSIONALS
Check website for current listings.
|Company and location
|Baxter International, Inc. (Deerfield, IL)
|Biotechnology, medical devices and specialty pharmaceuticals
|Bayer Healthcare (Leverkusen, Germany;
U.S. divisions: Whippany, NJ) www.healthcare.bayer.com
||Healthcare and medical products
|Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
(Chicago, IL) www.bcbs.com
|Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts
|Carestream Health (Rochester, NY)
|Drug development services
|GE Healthcare (Waukesha, WI)
|Diagnostic imaging technology
|Highmark (Pittsburgh, PA)
|Inova Health System (Falls Church, VA)
|Life Technologies/Applied Biosystems
|Life sciences company, lab equipment and reagents
|McKesson (San Francisco, CA)
|Medical device technologies and therapies
|Philips (Andover, MA)
|Diversified products for health and well being
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