A Crisis in Costs, Day 2: Business analyst helps site adapt to new technology

From the Salem Statesman Journal, May 24, 2010

The job duties of Joy O'Hearn focus on bringing new business practices and modern technology to Salem's Oregon State Hospital.

The job duties of Joy O'Hearn focus on bringing new business practices and modern technology to Salem's Oregon State Hospital.

Business analyst Joy O’Hearn wanted to make a fresh start, so she walked away from her career at a private-sector outsourcing company to help bring new technology to the outdated institution in Salem.

O’Hearn previously worked in the Portland office of Automatic Data Processing, one of the world’s largest providers of business outsourcing.

“Cutting jobs and migrating things off shore, and that sort of thing,” she said, describing her former job duties.

She came to OSH to forge a fresh start in her career.

“Where I came from, there wasn’t a lot of low-hanging fruit; in other words, not a lot of opportunities to do things that were really impactful, and that left you feeling like you really contributed to the bottom line.”

O’Hearn started working at OSH on Nov. 30. Her duties center on bringing new business practices and modern technology to the old hospital.

O’Hearn admitted to having preconceived notions about the facility, expecting to find an “old-school mind-set.”

“I sort of went in with the expectation that there was going to be more rigidity,” she said. “I’ve been pretty surprised. It’s just not been oppressive. It’s been a good experience, so far.

“This is sort of a bastion of opportunity in terms of looking at technology in a new way for them. There’s still some of the hard core, old-school-mind set. But I think for the most part everybody has been really receptive to change and this whole brave new world that they’re facing.”

Technology improvements coming to the hospital include replacing the existing paper-dominated medical records system with a new $25 million computerized records system.

Plans call for a state-of-the-art computer software system to be phased in, coinciding with staggered construction of the new hospital.

“Our group will take over the electronic medical records project after its implementation, and help grow it,” O’Hearn said.

The technology management section of OSH also is seeking to ease problems caused by persistent staffing shortages at the 24/7 facility.

O’Hearn said she sympathizes with the plight of front-line staffers who are frustrated by mandated double shifts.

“We’ve done a lot of interviewing of staff and gathered information,” she said. “From what I can tell so far, the staff are working some really crazy hours just to plug the gaps.”

Related articles and documents from the Salem Statesman Journal.

Oregon State Hospital and SEIU Fact Finding Report
Calvin Patterson Outrage E-mails
Oregon State Hospital Salaries and Vacancies Database
A Crisis in Costs, Day 2: State hospital jobs prove challenging
Interactive Oregon State Hospital Timeline
A Crisis in Costs, Day 2: Stress, long hours are ‘almost not worth it’
A Crisis in Costs, Day 2: OSH chief medical officer proud to be leading change
A Crisis in Costs, Day 2: For psychiatrist, mending broken lives is a motivation
A Crisis in Costs, Day 2: Business analyst helps site adapt to new technology
Crisis of Cost, Day 1: Mandated misery at Oregon State Hospital
Crisis of Cost, Day 1: State hospital’s mandatory overtime soars in past year
Crisis of Cost, Day 1: Worries about state hospital persist for Senate president
All items for this series are archived at Rebuilding an Institution: Oregon State Hospital