Fauquier Health team making the most of an 'exciting time'

New developments mean challenges, but also rewards
By Eric Wicklund
11:03 PM
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Fauquier Health

At Fauquier Health, IT personnel are hired based on their "attitude and aptitude," says Chief Information Officer Donna Staton. In other words, simply being a tech geek doesn't cut it.

Healthcare is a demanding job, and not only for the doctors and nurses out front dealing with patients. Those keeping the Virginia health system's IT network up and running face the same urgency and immediacy as the clinicians, who are relying on them to keep the whole network running smoothly and efficiently.

They're like a highway: People expect the road to be good and to get you where you need to be, but they don't pay attention to how it's done and they only notice when there's a pothole or roadwork.

It's a stressful job, says Staton, so supervisors need to make sure they've found the right people for the job – and then give them the support they need to thrive.

"There's a work-life balance involved," she says. Team-building events, celebrating birthdays and flexible scheduling, to name a few, go a long way toward making sure IT staff are at the top of their game and appreciated for what they do.

Staton says the role of IT in healthcare has increased dramatically in recent years, thanks in part to consumerism and disruptive technologies like mHealth. IT staff are expected to be up on and validate the latest mobile devices, whether it's a new smartphone for a doctor, a tablet for a nurse or a portal that allows a patient to check in and schedule appointments at any time.

They're also expected to make sure all those devices are safe, and that sometimes means playing sheriff and locking down some of the toys.

But that's also what makes it so rewarding, she says, when a new secure texting service enables doctors to communicate instantly and share images, or when the network speeds up a patient's discharge from the hospital and instantly alerts his or her primary care provider for follow-up care.

"It's a very exciting time," says Staton, whose one big wish is that she had more time and resources to train her staff on all the new technologies. "They're engineers at heart. They want to build something, develop something, create something that is 110 percent of requirements. When you see that work, it's exciting."

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