Olga Strachna is a 2014 graduate of the Master of Science in Health Informatics at Weill Cornell Medicine. She also completed a certificate in health information technology. Olga earned her bachelor's degree in biological sciences with a concentration in molecular biology from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

What do you currently do for work?

I am the Analytics Lead for the New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC), a non-profit located in downtown New York City. Through innovative implementation of health information technology (HIT), NYeC works towards a world where all New Yorkers can live healthier than before. I am tasked with creating quality metrics, collecting and integrating data, creating data visualizations, and designing quantitative dashboards for our researchers.

How did you come to join NYeC?

Back in 2012, Weill Cornell sent me to the Digital Health Conference — an annual event with multiple panels and sessions where hundreds of healthcare professionals can network and learn more about the industry. While there, I met quite a few members of NYeC and learned how healthcare is being completely redefined through the role of technology. I immediately saw the passion they had for the industry and the organization, and how my degree at Weill Cornell directly linked to the work I wanted to be doing.

Why did you choose Weill Cornell?

After graduating from Carnegie Mellon, I took a job with the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City as a research assistant, and a year later I was promoted to research coordinator.

One of the many great things about New York City is how close things are to each other. New York is truly the epicenter of healthcare in the United States, and it is an incredible networking experience to see the close affiliations between Weill Cornell Medical College, the HSS, New York-Presbyterian, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, The Rockefeller University, and other nearby institutions.

One day while I was working at the HSS, I attended a seminar led by Dr. Rainu Kaushal — chair of the Department of Healthcare Policy & Research — at Weill Cornell Medicine. I was captivated by Dr. Kaushal's talk, and while speaking with her afterwards she urged me to consider applying for the master's in health informatics program. At that time it was a new degree program that was in the final stages of being developed, so I enrolled in the health information technology certificate program. After completing the certificate, the master's program was launched and I enrolled.

And I am so glad I did.

The health informatics program has a great mix of healthcare services research and data analysis, and I truly saw my potential to make a big impact in the healthcare field. It is such an innovative program, and its huge focus on healthcare quality and policy research directly aligned with my beliefs of the industry. Ultimately, that's what I want to do: make user experience better for both patients and physicians by studying the effects of health information technology implementation and its interplay with healthcare policy development.

What did you like most about your program in the Department of Healthcare Policy & Research?

There were so many aspects I liked: it's hard to choose! One thing I really enjoyed was the fact that I got to work with multiple professors on a single project. I was able to apply what I learned from multiple mentors and professors into actual policy analysis. I also loved that my research included shadowing physicians to identify how they used electronic medical systems and how we in the health information technology field can study to make them better and more efficient.

What skills did you learn in the health informatics program that you use in your career today?

Quite a few: some of the big ones definitely include data analysis, ethnographic research, focus group interviewing, qualitative and quantitative analysis, relational databases, HIT evaluation, health services research, and public policy implications.

What were some of your biggest accomplishments and projects in the program?

One of my biggest accomplishments was conducting a comprehensive review and summary of evidence about the effects of health information exchange on quality and cost-effectiveness of primary care. I am also very proud to have contributed to an ethnographic multi-user evaluation of emergency department Eagle admit discharge transfer (ADT) and Eclipsys electronic medical records (EMR) systems.

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