by Nancy Ryerson
, Staff Writer | May 23, 2013
From the June 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
Dennis Minsent runs the award-winning health IT program at OHSU. Recently, he shared with DOTmed Business News the rewards of building a robust HIT program and how to advance technology without leaving anyone behind.
DMBN: Tell me a little about your background. How did you get to where you are today?
My health care technology career began in 1976 as an Air Force BMET at Sheppard AFB, Texas. In 1983 I was commissioned as an Air Force Medical Service Corps Officer and served as a Health Services Administrator until my retirement in 1992 as the Chief, USAF Biomedical Equipment Support. I then worked for SunHealth and Premier as a technology manager, area manager, and as a consultant in their Technology Assessment group. In 2003, I accepted a position as a risk manager/patient safety officer for Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, Wash. This was a real eye-opening experience for me and has really reshaped how I view my role in health care. [I] joined Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in 2004 as the director of Clinical Technology Services program. We have over 35,000 devices we provide support for as well as for developing the OHSU’s Strategic Technology Replacement Plan with a staff of 24.
DMBN: What are the biggest challenges in making health IT work?
Standardization, simplicity [and] human factors engineering. I can recall one conversation I had with a nurse while I was making rounds on a unit. She [said], “We just updated our electronic medical record, the network has a scheduled downtime, our IV pump safety software just downloaded a new release, and we just added vital signs monitors in every room integrated with the EMR. If I wanted to be an engineer, I would have been an engineer. I really want to focus my time on my patients and making them better. Can you help me?” Looking at her and her patient, the light came on in my head. We do updates, upgrades, work flow changes, adding more and more technology thinking we’re doing this for the nurse, not realizing what we’re doing to the nurse. We need to be closer to our customers to better understand their true needs and wants, not what we think they should want.
The world of technology we as Biomedical Engineers or Information Technology professionals live in grows and expands by leaps and bound seemingly each day. That’s what gets us up and going every morning. For those who don’t have that passion, it can be a bit overwhelming. I think we tend to forget that as we plan that next big upgrade that moves familiar boxes and buttons around in the name of progress and advancement. We need to be closer to our customers to better understand their true needs and wants, not what we think they should want.