Imagine, just for a moment, the technological infrastructure needed for a system of 277 physicians across 10 office locations: thousands of patient files and emails pinging back and forth; tracking billing information; lab results being uploaded and downloaded; patients renewing prescriptions and scheduling appointments. Now, imagine being tasked with making sure that infrastructure is sound and humming along, all without a second thought. As executive vice president and chief information officer for WESTMED Medical Group and WESTMED Practice Partners, that’s what Mohegan Lake resident Merin Joseph does every day.
But she doesn’t only worry about today—she’s always one step ahead. “Change is constant here,” Joseph says. “A lot of what we do is innovative, so what I work on today will be different than what I worked on yesterday.” To that end, she collaborates with WESTMED’s software and technology vendors on designing the next generation of the products they’re currently using, to ensure the medical group will always be technologically advanced.
And that’s no surprise—Joseph (and WESTMED, for that matter) has always been forward-thinking. Originally a nursing major, Joseph switched to health and information systems. While she quips, “I don’t think I was that good with patient care,” the change was prompted by her foresight into technology’s impending impact on the medical field. “In the late ’90s, hospital records were still in paper, and there were talks about electronic medical records,” she says. “I immediately figured out that that was going to happen soon.” WESTMED couldn’t have been a better fit for Joseph. When she started at the organization in 2002, the medical group had just begun to switch over to electronic medical records, and Joseph, as one half of the two-person IT department, was tasked with not only installing the records, but training all of WESTMED’S physicians to use the system.
Her work led to three promotions in the last decade, leading Joseph to her current position, where she oversees the 50-person IT department. Perhaps summing it up best is one of Joseph’s direct reports: “In the typically male-dominated field of IT, she has conquered.”