Antelope Valley Healthcare: Humberto Quintanar, Chief Information Officer

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With increasing demands on hospitals to go paperless, the information systems departments are becoming integral to hospital operations. Antelope Valley Healthcare District, a 420-bed acute care hospital in Lancaster, California, has made drastic strides in the past few years to implement technology throughout the hospital.

New management played a part in making change, and incorporating information systems into planning and decision making has helped the hospital find success.

“When I started as CIO, the hospital was obsolete when it came to technology,” said Humberto Quintanar, chief information officer. “With the help of a new chief operating officer, we were able to do major upgrades to infrastructure and applications in the hospital.”

During the past five years, the hospital has gone completely wireless, virtualized 190 servers, revamped its data center, and improved its infrastructure.

“We are in the process of automating as much as we can,” Quintanar said. “Our goal is to go paperless, and we’re going to get there.”

As with many hospitals, Antelope Valley is implementing an electronic medical record. Patient accounting and some nursing orders are already in place, and the hospital is in phase 2, which includes clinical documentation and electronic med administration; phase 3 includes CPOE. In conjunction with the medical record, the hospital has installed a new pharmacy system to revamp the distribution of drugs.

That’s just the beginning of the hospital’s plans for technology.

Incorporating information systems in corporate planning

Antelope Valley’s Chief Executive Officer Edward Mirzabegian began in this role in 2007, and served as COO for two years prior. He took an interest in improving the hospital’s technology and brought Quintanar to the table during executive planning meetings.

“My role has evolved from dealing with vendors and managing contracts to sitting at the table with the CEO,” said Quintanar. “Almost nothing happens in this hospital where information systems is not involved. I am involved in everything that goes on from marketing, to the copy center, to changes in the operating or emergency rooms. We are trying to come up with solutions that will make our patients’ experience much better.”

Quintanar spends time observing care providers to see their needs, what instruments they are using, how they use the technology systems, what educational software they use or need, etc. He also is involved in creating processes that allow the hospital to track information reported to the Joint Commission.

Information systems is an integral role in hospital operations, which has helped with the success of implementing various systems and initiatives. Quintanar is sensitive to the needs of the end users and works with them to provide technology in a way that benefits their day to day work.

“As a CIO today, I have to speak many languages, from engineering to physicians to nursing to administrators,” he said. “I have many stakeholders, including payers and private practice physicians, who want access to patient records. We are also in the planning stages of building a new cancer center. I have to make sure buildings are built in a way that supports how information technology will be used in the facility.”

Quintanar and Antelope Valley are exceptionally supportive of the desires of physicians and staff to have patient information at their fingertips. In addition to implementing an EMR, revamping the PACS system, and implementing many other systems, Quintanar is evaluating mobile devices, carts, specialized arms in patient rooms with a computer screen and wireless keyboard, tablets, and even iPads.

“Currently, we have one of the most secure data systems,” Quintanar said. “We are having to balance security with the desire of physicians to have patient information on their mobile devices. Our biggest strain right now is getting people to the point where they’re taking care of patients with something small in their hand that they can use to chart, place orders or dictate and move on.”

Quintanar said Mirzabegian is a high-energy CEO, who encourages the development of these technologies and to do it quickly. He said much of the hospital is excited about the increased technology, particularly with regard to the EMR implementation. Antelope Valley’s information systems department has a busy year ahead.

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