There’s a seismic shift happening within healthcare, and it’s completely changing the patient-provider dynamic. Once passive, patients are now becoming empowered, informed healthcare consumers. They are shopping for care just like they would any other good or service. And what they’re looking for is value, quality care and a seat at the table when it comes to important decisions about their health.
These new healthcare consumers are also looking for easier, more efficient ways to receive care. Fueled by the pandemic and other factors, people have become accustomed to living in a digital world.
Many now work remotely and can manage many aspects of their daily lives with the simple push of a button. As such, in-person is out as society becomes more digitally transformed.
This has healthcare providers scrambling as they work to meet the demands of an on-demand world.
Introducing Brightwork Health IT
“Patients now expect convenience,” said Shannan Epps, President and CEO of Brightwork Health IT. “They want things to happen on their own time and from wherever they happen to be. And because of this, the healthcare industry is entering a new era of digital innovation.”
Launched in 2017, Brightwork Health IT is a Seattle-based IT consultancy that helps healthcare organizations with large IT implementations, digital transformation initiatives and technical resources. With an eye on optimizing technologies, modernizing workflows, and transforming infrastructure, the firm ensures organizations are ready for the here and now, and all that comes next. Brightwork’scustomers include Kaiser Permanente, Summa Health, Pacific Medical Centers, Multicare, and SE Alaska Regional Health Consortium.
Organizations like Brightwork are playing a critical role as healthcare organizations retrofit their operations and infrastructure to meet patients’ on-demand healthcare needs. By aligning deep domain expertise with a robust partner ecosystem, Brightwork has successfully managed some of the healthcare industry’s most complex IT implementations. This is no small task, especially when you consider how big healthcare in America truly is. It’s massive!
Navigating the Complex Healthcare Industry
To put things into perspective, healthcare spending comprises nearly 20% of the US gross domestic product (GDP). And healthcare IT in 2021 alone was valued at close to $50 billion. So when you’re dealing with systems and budgets that size, you need a trusted resource that knows the playing field inside and out.
“Not only is the healthcare industry big, it’s also extremely complex,” said Epps. “If not done well, changes within ahealthcare system’s IT infrastructure can have huge repercussions. Missteps can impact patient records, hospital or clinic revenue, medical equipment, and even patient care. A simple mistake can sometimes be the difference between life and death.”
Fortunately for Brightwork’s customers, Epps and her team have decades of experience and understand all the nuances involved in transformation initiatives. Whether related to electronic health records (EHR), revenue cycle management (RCM), document management, 3rd party applications, security, interoperability, data warehousing and more, the team can do it all. And that experience is critical for keeping clients from getting bogged down, making mistakes, missing deadlines and exceeding budgets.
To get to where she is today, Epps has had an interesting career path. Not only is she one of the few women IT leaders in healthcare, but she also got her start in the defense industry.
From Missile Defense to Health IT
“In 1993, I graduated from college with a degree in computer science,” she said. “My first job was as a coder for missile defense systems. I specialized in Unix, Linux and Beowulf clusters, which run a Unix-like operating system. I was young and it was an amazing experience.”
Missile defense programmer to health IT expert might seem like night and day, but for Epps the transition was natural. When she turned 27, Epps became a mom, which took her out of the workforce for a few years. But as her children got older, she decided it was time to go back to work. That’s when she landed her first job in health IT.
“I went to work for Physician Micro Systems, where I was in charge of electronic data interchange (EDI),” said Epps. “The company had a product called Practice Partner, one of the earliest electronic health records (EHR) systems on the market.”
The company’s president, Dr. Andrew Ury, had a son who battled diabetes. And according to Epps, he believed EHR was the key to solving chronic illness.
“That resonated with me because my father had died from AIDS in 1986, so I could relate to Dr. Ury’s mission,” explained Epps. “It was then that I decided to dedicate my career to health IT, working with systems that have the potential to improve people’s lives.”
A few years later, Epps went to work for Providence Health, where she managed Epic electronic health records. Epic has been the foundation of her career ever since.
Promoting Positive Change Within Healthcare IT
When asked about what she would like to change within the IT industry, Epps shared that she wants to help enable more women, people of color and other underrepresented individuals to pursue careers in her field.
“There is a lot of history that needs to be undone for us to have a more inclusive, representative and equitable society,” said Epps. “We must transform systems, social constructs, ideologies, laws, beliefs and other barriers. And a great place to start is within healthcare and IT, where more people from historically marginalized communities have opportunities to join the workforce and serve in leadership positions. The more blended and balanced we become, the more equality we will have.”
Brightwork is a Women’s Business Enterprise and is also LGBTQ certified. The firm participates in the Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA), which advocates for diversity in the technology sector. The team is also active in several other organizations and initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion.
To learn more about Brightwork or connect with Epps, visit BrightworkConsulting.net.
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