Alumni Profile: Andrew Tran University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Andrew Tran (MS '17)


Systems Analyst at OhioHealth, Revenue Cycle IS

SHRS Program Attended:

Health Information Systems

Q: Why did you choose Health Information Systems?

Andrew: I knew that I wanted to be in health care but I fell out of love with being a clinician . In my undergrad, I did an internship in Kansas and I lived with a cardiothoracic surgeon and got to see what was done in both a hospital setting and an outpatient setting. I discovered that I didn’t want to be a clinician!

I wandered for a year or so. I worked in IT at Ohio State. During that time, I realized my natural affinity with technology could serve me well in a career. Understanding and working with technology has always come easy to me but it took a small role for me to realize that if I could just leverage my ability with my passion for health care that I was at the beginning of a career. Because of that I wanted to blend technology and health care together, and found Health Information Management (HIM) does this.

Q: What does your typical work day look like?

Andrew: My official role is systems analyst. Specifically, I'm a clinical applications builder for OhioHealth's electronic health record and some of our other integrated systems. Right now I am the lead system administrator for one of our document imaging systems. I make sure that a series of our integrated systems for bringing in paper documentation is up and running. I facilitate that whole process as well as any new departments that go live. But that is just one facet of what I do.

In HIM, because our department is so broad, we handle all sorts of different worlds for OhioHealth. We handle hospital coding, transcription, documentation scanning, deficiency tracking. There’s a whole host of systems that we work with. That’s a huge selling point of HIM because it serves as a springboard where you can tailor whatever kind of career you want and make it work for you – you’re not tied down into any one career track. You can make your career fit you. I think that’s a very attractive option for prospective students who are considering HIM.

Q: How did Pitt’s HIS program prepare you for the work you do today?

Andrew: I was very fortunate to have some really excellent professors in my master's program. Patti Firouzan was extremely helpful in establishing a firm base of knowledge to take into my industry here. Now when certain items come to us, I understand their need, I can understand where we're going with it, and understand the direction that my project managers and my senior directors are taking.

Suzanne Paone’s instruction in our Electronic Health Records class was incredibly impactful. She taught us about the electronic health record and its continued implementation and its increasing popularity. It’s really amazing to see it. I understand how things should get done, and it's allowed me to be more assertive in my day-to-day work … to say that “we need to account for this. Though you might not realize it, that is why you need to bring us in the loop on that project.” That disconnect between our operations and our senior directors and their goals of what they want to achieve with their patient care has to be tempered with any technical limitations associations. Ms. Paone was extremely influential in bridging that gap in her instruction during our class. That's been really helpful and I’ve even been able to see what’s on the horizon before I’ve been officially told about what’s coming up.

Q: How do you spend your time outside of work?

Andrew: I am an assistant coach for water polo at my old high school. I specialize in coaching goaltenders and some of the newer players and refining some of the playing styles of more veteran players. I've actually integrated some of the things I learned from SHRS into my coaching. I had a database teacher who taught us Structured Query Language (SQL) at SHRS. I'm calling upon that knowledge to develop a database system here for my water polo players, so we can better track their stats and have a data-driven analysis of their play so that we can perform better at the end of the year.

HIM is all about collecting data and using a data-driven approach. You can apply those same concepts to anything in life, really. Between our statistics class and the database classes that we were given in the HIM program, that's all been helpful for me in establishing that.

Q: HIM is not as well known as other health care professions. What do you want people to know about HIM?

Andrew: I know that when people think of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, everybody immediately starts thinking of occupational therapy, physical therapy - the direct care provider roles. I realized that even in the world of HIM, what I have done is very atypical; it's very non-traditional. Most folks from the HIM program will tell you that they tend to go into a vendor role. It's very rare that somebody goes through that training then goes into the IT section of that world. So, I'm on the opposite end of the operational spectrum. The role that I fulfill is to basically be the gears and the grease that make everything turn for the operational folks.

A lot of people think HIM is incredibly technical, it's very IT driven. But I would counter that by saying that you do not have to be a technical person to be in HIM. Health care has never been more accessible to a wider audience than before because of HIM and because of things that we have done. I would strongly encourage people to look at it – consider the full aspect of it. I think that the experiences I've gotten from SHRS and from HIM have given me such a broad base that I could really do anything and make something of it.

It was a very nice contrast from my undergrad degree in biology. After undergrad, I felt like I didn't really have a whole lot of avenues, I didn't know what to do. When I left SHRS I found so many avenues, I couldn't decide which one to pick! Because there were so many different things that I could have done and so many different sectors that I could have entered, it was hard to choose. That’s a nice problem to have.

"HIM is a wonderful field. It is extremely flexible. And I'll leave you with this: when I was being recruited, when I first learned about the program through Ohio State’s undergraduate program director, I was told, “the sky's the limit in HIM.” And it's true. It's absolutely true. The sky is absolutely the limit here, and I think that a master's degree, or even a bachelor's degree in HIM sets you on a path where moving upward has tons of potential and opportunities."

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Photos provided by Andrew Tran

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