John Orosco is the CTO of Minneapolis-based Sansoro Health, makers of the Emissary platform for exchanging real-time health care data between digital health applications and electronic medical records.
How long have you been working in tech for and what is your technical background?
When I started my college career, I wanted to be an accountant until I started taking accounting classes and quickly realized that was not the path for me. I then turned my attention to business management and computer science.
I enjoyed the programming classes a great deal and completed my degree in Management Information Systems at Iowa State in 1998. I joined Cerner Corporation as a software engineer after graduation which is where my professional career began. I have been in healthcare information technology ever since.
What are you focused on right now?
As the co-founder and CTO of Sansoro Health, we are focused on developing a middleware, REST services platform that offers real-time access to data in electronic medical records systems. The goal of the platform is to offer an elegant way for third-party solutions to seamlessly integrate with EHR systems instead of the legacy integration methods available today like flat-file extracts and batch interface processing.
What are the some of the technologies within your company and IT environment?
The technologies within our company include cloud hosting like Microsoft Azure and AWS of our REST services platform. We developed our platform using .NET and moving to support container deployments so our platform can run on any application server technology. The EHR systems we connect to run the gamut of technology stacks including MUMPS, Java, .NET Oracle, SQL, Cache and others. It’s a hodgepodge really, but they all support mechanisms for building on top of them a web services layer.
How do you ensure that IT plans, projects and objectives are aligned with business outcomes?
Product management sits at the heart of our organization and its their job to define product roadmaps and strategies that align to our overall business objectives. As you can imagine, we get requests for new development from many places, e.g. prospects, customers, sales, internal staff, outside parties, etc. Deciphering those requests and getting us as a company to skate to where the puck is headed instead of where the puck is today is vital to our ongoing success as an organization.
What is the size of your department (headcount) and how is it organized/managed?
We have 14 people right now on our development team and are organized by different aspects including our software engineers, support engineers, quality assurance and infrastructure administrators. We recently moved product management out from under the technology group as we anticipate a significant amount of growth in our department over the next 12-18 months.
How does your company approach recruiting and retention for technical positions?
We recruit like many other companies through a combination of job boards, recruiting firms, personal networks as well as a number of folks reaching out to us who are familiar with our business and excited about the problems we’re solving in health IT. We place an emphasis on our team culture at Sansoro Health and our development team is a healthy environment where everyone is free to share their thoughts and insights. Quarterly, we bring the entire development team together for 2-3 days of what we call our “Development Summit,” which is an opportunity for the entire group to tackle large, strategic challenges in a roundtable format, discuss ways to improve our current processes, share ideas for tools that would help them do their job more efficiently and other topics. We share revised visions of the technology goals at this event and encourage an open and transparent dialogue.
How do you personally keep up with the ever changing technology landscape?
Like many others, I subscribe to a number of different publications, social media experts and scour the interwebs for information that pertains to our industry and more specifically the space we’re in which is solving health IT integration & interoperability. Much of this research is also dispelling or validating the many ‘buzzy’ concepts that seems to crop up almost constantly.
What excites you about where technology is heading?
I’m excited by the fact that health care is becoming more receptive to the concept of API technology as a way of solving integration challenges. This may seem odd to some that read this since other digital economies have been successfully using API technology for many years, but health care, in general, is a laggard when it comes to adopting technology solutions. We seem to be at a point in time where we’re no longer educating the industry about API technology, but instead, are having real conversations about how API technology can help improve clinical workflows and patient outcomes and actually implementing those solutions.
What concerns you about where technology is heading?
I tend to see a lot of time and resources spent on cutting edge technological concepts when we still haven’t figured out some of the rudimentary problems. For example, blockchain is all the rage these days. There are countless groups and conferences that focus on how blockchain is going to solve many of the health care challenges that exist today, yet healthcare is the one industry that is, more than any other, keeping fax technology alive. There are literally millions of faxes sent each year so how about solving the fax problem first instead of jumping immediately to something like blockchain? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of blockchain and its potential, but if health care isn’t ready to rid itself of faxing, it’s hardly ready to adopt blockchain .
What is your opinion of Minnesota’s tech industry – how could it be better?
The Minnesota technology scene is vibrant and impressive. I think most folks imagine the coasts when they talk about technology leaders, but the midwest is a hotbed of technology talent. Cities like Minneapolis, Des Moines, Madison, Chicago and Kansas City make up what is affectionately known as ‘Silicon Prairie,’ and for good reason.
What are you into outside of technology?
I enjoy spending time with my wife and two girls (ages 11 and 15); we usually find a new destination to travel to a couple of times a year. I’m a sports junkie so I’m constantly watching or attending games, especially when traveling to new cities. I recently bought a Jeep wrangler, so I’ll probably spend way too much time and money on that new toy!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’m grateful everyday to do the work that I do. Our mission, more than any other, is to help solve the most challenging problem in health care which is to allow disparate systems to connect in a way that allows other software companies that are solving real problems to solve them without fear of how they can access patient records in a safe and secure way.