Valley Children's IT team puts predictive analytics, telehealth to work for kids

An innovative spirit and a sharp focus on what children need is what makes this system a winner.
By Jessica Davis
06:53 AM
Best Hospital IT Department 2017

When it comes to running a successful and effective children’s hospital, the key is to ensure every aspect is focused on serving children, says Mike Gengozian. And for Valley Children’s Hospital that includes caring for patients – regardless of whether they are able to pay.

“What makes our hospital great? We’re focused 100 percent on children," said Gengozian, Valley Children’s Director of IT Applications and Programming. "And by that I mean, every key decision we make here has the health and wellbeing of the children of our valley in mind."

Valley Children’s serves a 45,000-square-mile region in central California, and about 80 percent of its patients use Medicaid. For CIO Kevin Shimamoto, it’s that outreach that drives the atmosphere and decision making in every department.

"There’s no differentiating in care between whether you can pay or not," said Shimamoto. “We’re making a difference here, whether it’s IT-wise or a person performing surgery, it’s about the kids."

For its IT team, that means an infrastructure designed to support those who directly take care of patients, he added. 

Gengozian said Valley Children's is leveraging predictive analytics for its clinical team, to try and detect some conditions early. By programming certain indicators, the team will be able to identify those conditions the moment the patient walks through the door.

Security is also top of mind, as Shimamoto said the hospital has invested into its program to make sure it can effectively keep the data as secure as possible. Education is also a focus – and that includes phishing campaigns to work on staff awareness.

"We’re upping our dollars spent on security programs," he said. "The hospital does numerous assessments and brings in a security vendor for an evaluation once a year, while also performing its own evaluation.

“We can also manage potential vulnerabilities to find trends," he added. "We may never get hit with ransomware, but if we do we have a whole playbook to go by."

Valley Children’s is currently updating its cellular system as part of a major endeavor to ensure the entire facility is covered. And the hospital is expanding with two new medical office buildings – one in Modesto and another in Bakersfield – to provide pediatric specialties in areas not currently served.

To continue expanding its reach, the hospital is also bolstering its telemedicine program. Shimamoto said it is trying to reach an area of 30 minutes or 30 miles to examine a child. Valley Children’s will leverage its community partnerships to provide a quick response for critically ill patients.

Ultimately, it’s the staff and leadership that makes Valley Children’s so successful.

"You need to display your passion because that will trickle down," said Gengozian. "When you establish that culture of high accountability and passion to do your job to the best of your ability because our children are counting on it – that to me is the biggest tool in your toolbox."

Shimamoto added that the word “best” is used in a lot of the work Valley Children’s undertakes. 

"And that trickles down to the individual,” Shimamoto said. “We’ve made believers out of doubters."

Best hospital IT departments: 2017

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Twitter: @JessieFDavis
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