A student testimonial from the eye of the storm


Rav Goodison explains what it’s like to work full-time in health informatics during a pandemic while completing a PhD online, designing and applying urgent solutions to frontline workers.

As a full-time contract project manager working across BC’s burgeoning Vancouver - Lower Mainland region, Rav Goodison is also completing her PhD online at the School of Health Information Science with a focus on improving project delivery. To do this is challenging; to do this during a pandemic even more so.  

“There’s great value in our role as health informatics professionals,” says Goodison. “We support front line workers in providing technology that improves their workflows. Together, we improve service delivery which adds immeasurable value to the provider and to the patient experience.”

For most of us, that value of quality in tech solutions, infrastructure and safety in data management is not readily visible to most yet brings our health system the biggest benefits. Tracking data is where the answers lie in just about every question you can ask about care services and delivery. As a result, careers in health informatics are soaring, offering competitive salaries and cutting-edge opportunities.

“That’s because health informatics, the field that integrates health and technology, is rapidly evolving on a global scale,” says school director Andre Kushniruk.

“Especially now, our graduate students are needed at all levels in health care from BA to Masters to PhD,” he says. “Our alum have proven to help speed access to treatment and improve healthcare. In fact, we teach them how to improve clinical decision-making, to design and deploy technologies that empower clinicians, staff and patients.”

Goodison says that’s the key; being able to apply her learning to her practice throughout her studies, enabling her to deliver complex projects with greater speed and efficiency.

For example, she recently completed projects supporting the virtual health platform at one of BC’s largest health authorities.

“We enabled remote video capabilities so health care providers could communicate with patients and deliver care safely. I led the team that coordinated the process of identifying and fulfilling these new technical needs.”

Goodison also helped set up surgery pre-admission clinics across the health region using a virtual platform that streamlined information gathering. 

“My team and I supported assessments and analyzed information flow across multiple systems to support virtual patient pre-assessments,” she explains. “This required careful coordination with clinic managers to ensure ours was an effective, informed process.”

“Typically, rolling out technical solutions takes a long time. Now, with COVID 19, we are working at an extraordinary pace and have established a momentum that is efficient and effective.”

Trying to out-run this virus requires orchestration at all levels, says Goodison. “We keep pace with clinicians to address patient needs and to avoid cumulative exposure to the virus at the same time.” 

Which is of the essence to keep clinicians and patients safe while avoiding spread and contamination. “For me,” says Goodison, “it feels natural to function at this pace,” recalling her first career at home in the UK.  

Born and raised in Hitchin, England, Goodison studied engineering at the University of Hertfordshire and international management at the University of Reading. Serving as a corporate crisis consultant in her 20s, Goodison traveled frequently across the UK and Europe.

“I’d assess, plan and implement changes to keep projects on track. It was high-paced work. Lots of adrenalin.” Seeking change, Goodison came to Canada and set her sights on a more fulfilling career where she could help make life better for others.

“I’ve used every component of my education to make the transition from to Canada. From engineering management and crisis management to culture management,” she laughs. “English people are quite direct which can offend people here in Canada. No sugar coating.”

Sweet satisfaction comes from pursuing her PhD at UVic, she says, noting that she has never seen learning come alive as she has with this Health Information Science program.

“This learning has changed my practice,” she says. “I now know the terminology, the capability, and the foundation upon which this science was built. This has helped me so much in my work.”

Building on her background in project management, Goodison now specializes in integrating technical solutions across many complex components within our evolving health system. From health information exchange to electronic health record data management and virtual collaboration tools, to routinely refining system functionality.

This is a recurring theme for Goodison and the cornerstone of her thesis: she wants to know what it takes to inform physicians and clinicians to better enable their work.

In sessions with PhD supervisor, Dr. Elizabeth Borycki, Health Information Science professor, as well as a nurse and prolific researcher, Goodison was encouraged to narrow the focus of her research to better understand why some technical projects fail in health care.

“I realized I needed to focus on clinician needs in my study,” she says. “Now, as part of my practice, I interview clinicians and gather details on what problems they are trying solve. The whole usability structure of how a clinician interacts with technology now feeds into that solution. I have created an observation period, too, where I watch clinicians use the technology. I can see how ten seconds of frustration can cause some to abandon a technical solution. This has informed my practice around usability engineering.”

Goodison loves knowing this work can help deliver quality faster. “COVID-19 has required us to do things we have never dreamed of and at record speed,” she says. “I think that’s the way forward, to be innovative, to be timely as well as safe and thorough, and to deliver better results.”

That, she says, is truly fulfilling work.