Career Story: System Designer For A Pair Of City Hospitals

System Designer For A Pair Of City Hospitals

Job Title: System Designer

Type of Company: I work for a corporation formed by two prominent local hospitals that allows their organizations and affiliated institutions to leverage shared resources for IT and other infrastructure functions.

Education: BS, Business Administration & Management, Salem State College (Salem, MA)

Previous Experience: I worked various customer service jobs at Blue Cross Blue Shield that led me to doing tech support for electronic billing. I then networked a position as a support engineer at IDX Systems (now GE Healthcare) and went on to work at Partners Healthcare supporting Dana Farber's IDX system. I now work in production support in the Longitudinal Medical Record Team.

Job Tasks: My job primarily is to do programming support for a web-based medical records application. Problems with the application are reported to my team and we work to resolve them, either by fixing them ourselves or working with another programmer. For instance, if a doctor or nurse is entering information, like a note, into a patient's record and finds he cannot file it, we'd investigate what failed. (Was the system unavailable? Was incorrect data being entered? Or was something else at work?)

We also do project work, programming new features into the application: creating new reports, allowing users to upload attached images into a record, etc. The job requires us to be able to read and change code on web pages using Javascript, XML, HTML, AJAX and other programming languages and also to do database programming using Intersystem's Cache, a database language used by many hospitals and financial institutions. Our goal is to keep the application running smoothly so our users have a good experience with it.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is having an opportunity to learn to use existing programming skills and learn new programming techniques and new ways to create solutions to problems our users encounter. Our application has a very high profile; not only is it used for electronic medical records, many other applications within our environment use it to share and provide patient data in a secure way. We have many opportunities to help shape how the application works.

The worst part of the job is that, thanks to the complexity of the application, it is often hard to figure out why a particular feature was coded to work a certain way. So deciding if a user complaint is truly a bug or simply a design choice can be tough.

Job Tips:
1. You can build on job experience even if it's not directly related to healthcare. I came out of a retail career and used my customer service experience to get a job providing customer service in health insurance. Gaining experience in health insurance concepts this way allowed me to use that understanding when I started supporting billing software at Blue Cross and Support/Programming at IDX.

2. Network with friends, especially if they are already in the industry, and be ready to return the favor when they are looking. They can give you tips and relate experiences that really help prepare you for interviews and give you an understanding of the industry.

3. Read trade magazines and always look for educational opportunities in your field. Keeping abreast of this information can really help if you need to make a job change or need to improve skills in a particular area to stay employable.

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