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Healthcare IT Interoperability







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Healthcare Information Technology Pioneer

Like nearly everything else today, your medical records — from hospital stays and doctor visits to prescriptions and lab results is being converting to electronic records and stored in Electronic Health Record systems (EHRs) which let healthcare providers have access to your records in order to provide better care. But what happens when the system used by one provider is different than another or when a Heart Attack at hospital A is called a myocardial infarction, while at hospital B it is called a Cardiac Arrest? The computers do not know they are the same thing. It’s an issue that J P Systems' company has been tackling for nearly a decade. “When two providers can’t exchange information effectively it could cause patient safety issues” says Mulrooney, the long-time president (and founder) of J P Systems, a Clifton, VA based healthcare Information Technology firm. “The interoperability of systems is a problem not just nationally, but worldwide.” Since 1998, when her husband Galen joined her firm, the company has focused on electronic patient records, health care standards and data architecture for Healthcare IT. Together they oversee everything from sales and marketing and management to Human Resources.

In September 2015, J P Systems was awarded a five year US Department of Veterans Affairs contract with a $100 million ceiling, to support terminology standardization efforts. It’s the largest contract to date which the Mulrooney’s business has received. “It is for Healthcare IT data standards, which is our company’s niche. That’s the biggest problem in health care today. The incompatibilities exist on a very low level of the information. Over the last 35 years, medical concepts have been assigned different codes in different systems. These codes exist in the data files and their meanings do not. That is why electronic data exchange is so very difficult. There are other issues with EHRs, too. “If organizations have different missions, they’ll collect and store slightly different types of data at different levels of specificity” she said. “A cancer center will collect and store different details about a patient than a General Practitioner at a local clinic. The goal is to get them to map to one international standard so that patient data can be exchanged in an accurate way. You can’t make good clinical decisions without accurate, up-to-date, and complete information.” The path has been steadily upward for Mulrooney, who attended Colgate because it was a small university that offered both a computer science major and a women’s varsity tennis team. She was one of the few women then studying computer science at Colgate. Mulrooney ended up with a pre-med, computer science and chemistry triple major, which built the foundation for what she does today.

The ambitious Mulrooney worked full time during her junior year, programming for Wilson Greatbatch Ltd., the company that made cardiac pacemaker batteries. With a year of programming under her belt, Mulrooney found plenty of database design work in Washington, D.C., post-graduation. After four years, she began J P Systems, in 1983. The bulk of her time involved defense logistics she said. When asked about the number of women working in IT today, “I expected more progress by now,” said Mulrooney. According to an American Association of University Women study, the number of female computing professionals has actually fallen, from 35 percent in 1990 to 26 percent in 2013, and women that year made up just 18 percent of U.S. computer science graduates. “It can still be a battle to do business in the area I compete in.” She credits much of her success to mental attitude, and has a library of books on success principles that she revisits. “You have to believe you can succeed,” said Mulrooney. “Your belief in yourself is a large percent of success in business.” Anne Stein

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We are #HealthcareIT interoperability architects for large enterprises, UML data modelers, use case developers, business logic analysts and #HL7 messaging standards developers.