Women in Tech: Featuring Candy Collins, Texas Health Resources
Candy Collins is a System Administrator III for Texas Health Resources, a non-profit organization operating a network of hospitals across North Texas. It was 27 years ago that she began a journey that eventually led to her becoming a CBORD expert. After she worked in a hospital nutrition department and was asked to learn the then-new CBORD applications, her scope broadened, along with her knowledge of all things CBORD.
On her journey to tech
I started working with the nutrition applications, CBORD's in particular, in 1989, in the DOS version of Diet Office, MICROS® 3700, and Odyssey back when it was called OmniAccess™. Those three applications are where I "cut my teeth" as it were; back in the DOS days.
In 1989, I was actually the Clinical Nutrition Manager at a large teaching hospital when these applications were purchased and installed for the nutrition department. It was announced that someone had to learn to support and work with them. Guess what! I was tasked with learning them all. Compared to 1989 technology, it's pretty phenomenal what I am dealing with now, with the handheld devices, ordering at the bedside, and all of the mobile technology.
On her shift to an IT role
It was one of those things where over time, new applications or different modules of applications were deployed and implemented, so it just got pulled into my job description. When I changed jobs in 2005 and moved to Texas Health Resources, I left the direct patient care nutrition area as a department nutrition employee and became an information technology employee in my current position in the department of Ancillary Application Support. I do not do direct patient care anymore, yet I do miss patient care sometimes.
On the future of foodservice technology
Right now I am not particularly focusing on what technology will offer in software or hardware for patient care five to ten years from now. For me it is really about what recent applications I have deployed, and how I can get the employees to use the web applications and mobile devices in their workflow to really impact workflow processes, accuracy, and patient satisfaction. That is where I focus most of my time—not how to deploy more technology to employees who are already overwhelmed, but how to better use what we have to make things work better. I am not saying it is bad not to keep your ears and eyes open for new trends in the technology world, but if employees are not using current technology, well, they probably will find a way not to work with new technology any better.
On advice for someone in a similar role
You have got to know the food/nutrition world before you can be a good administrator of any nutrition application in a hospital setting. You have to know what really is going on in the kitchen, serving lines, or in the store room. It's amazing sometimes when you look over the shoulder of an employee on what they are actually doing, and short cuts they set up for themselves that have a ripple effect on what is going on with data in the applications.
On advice for women in technology
If you are a dietitian or a dietetic technician and you are looking to move into the information technology part of healthcare, your clinical skills give you good leverage to secure a support or administrator position for ancillary applications. Clinical skills such as assessing, diagnosing, planning, and implementing plans are similar skills to what is needed in supporting nutrition applications. Dietitians and nutrition technicians also have an eye for detail which is extremely important in any information technology position. Leveraging your existing skill set to move into an information technology position, whether it's a company like CBORD, or in the technology department of a major hospital system, will help you get your foot in the IT door.