Women in Tech: Featuring Crystal Johnson, University of Utah Healthcare

Crystal Johnson, Data Systems Analyst at University of Utah Healthcare Systems, not only sees and predicts what the future of technology will bring, but she has an amazing sense of technology in the present. Here she shares her career journey in technology, her ideas on the role of technology, and her advice for young women entering the workforce.

Official and unofficial roles

My official title is "Data Systems Analyst." Basically, I make sure our CBORD programs all function well and that we are using them as efficiently as possible. In doing that, I play lots of roles: Data Entry, Tech Support, Security Administration, Problem Solving, Project Management and even a little Web Development & Graphic Design here and there!

Her journey to nutrition technology

To be honest, I was not what you would call "career-oriented!" It was not something I planned to do. My story is more a series of events and choices that led me here to a job that I love and challenges me almost every day!

I started by working part-time in the Nutrition Care Services department of this very hospital, right out of high school. I started out serving food to the patients, but because my managers knew I was good with computers (having grown up with them, thanks to my Dad!), they asked if I would help create a new PM Diet Clerk position when we were switching from the old DOS system to the "Diet Office" GUI system. That was my first taste of nutrition technology.

After that, I bounced around between full-time jobs and raising babies. Then my husband purchased a lawn care company, and my old employers at Nutrition Care were kind enough to give me part-time work to help cover my husband's lack of work in the winter. Again, because they knew my abilities with computers, they started training me on the then-current CBORD systems and gradually gave me more and more responsibility, leading to the position I hold today.

On the role of technology in healthcare and nutrition

I think that, in both healthcare & nutrition, the role of technology is helping streamline processes and allowing information to be accessible "at our fingertips". Thanks to smartphones and the Internet, everyone is already used to having information always at their fingertips. Things like electronic medical records allow information to easily get to those that need it in order to better help the patient.

Healthcare has many facets, and those facets are so interconnected that easy access to information can only help it. Nutrition is a similar thing. Thanks to technology, we can more easily find nutrient info on certain foods and then provide that info in a concise way to our patients and their families.

Supporting the mission of patient care

One of the biggest concerns of patients is the apparent lack of control they have over their care/life while they are in the hospital. That lack leads to anxiety and all sorts of other feelings that are detrimental to a patient's ability to heal as quickly as possible. Also, as we all know, food is especially necessary for healing. Nutrition technology makes a huge difference in both of these areas. Programs that give patients options when ordering their meals help them feel more in control of their care.

These programs also give practical information to the patients about the foods they are ordering, such as allergens and nutrient information, which helps them feel safer because they know what is in the foods they are ordering. That, in turn, ultimately gives them more options, because no guessing is needed, and they are more likely to actually eat what they are served, which then leads to better/quicker healing.

Advice for young women and girls entering the technology workspace

Don't be afraid of going into technology because you are a girl! If you love the tech field and have found you have a knack for it, there is nothing to be afraid of. Just work hard and show off what you can do. Be proud of what you can do, and no one will doubt you.