Health Care Heroes: Madhu Gottumukkala, Technology Solutions

Leader of software engineers wants to improve entire health care industry

A family of four poses outdoors for a selfie

Madhu Gottumukkala came to lead engineering teams at Sanford Health’s Technology Solutions department two years ago with a lofty goal: Transform the technology of the health care industry.

Gottumukkala had already been part of the evolution in telecommunications. He was involved in developing 3G, 4G and LTE technologies, among many others.

“Working at Motorola, Verizon, Samsung and Polycom, I have seen and had firsthand experience of how much technology has changed and impacted the lives of billions of people in those 15 years,” said Gottumukkala. The native of India originally came to the U.S. to get his master’s degree in computer science and engineering.

“When I was looking for my next adventure, health care excited me as it reminded me of the days of the early ’90s and 2000s in the telecom field,” he said. “There are several disruptive and market forces in health care today that will shape how health care will evolve.”

Technology touches nearly every part of health care, for employees and patients. Gottumukkala oversees teams that work with web and mobile products, senior care services, Imagenetics and electronic medical records (EMR).

His teams also help administer and maintain all the interfaces between EMR and medical systems like medical devices, lab instruments and imaging. They support business operations for Sanford Health and Sanford Health Plan, including internal apps and communications. They develop and test new software at Sanford Health, as well as integrating vendor products.

Since Gottumukkala arrived at Sanford Health to take on a new role as senior director of technology and lead more than 60 people, he has worked to build high-performance software development teams. They can design, test and implement high-quality software products in short bursts of time to solve a health care problem or need.

Tackling the big problems

One pilot project Gottumukkala has overseen could have implications for other health care systems, too.

His department has proven it’s possible to make two different EMR systems, at Sanford Health and the Good Samaritan Society, interoperable. In other words, they can talk to each other. Interoperability adds automation to make patient transfers smoother and less error-prone. One town that contains both a Sanford Health and Good Samaritan facility will be the first live test.

“The long-term goal is that that’s a problem that we solved that all of health care has,” said Josh Robinson, chief information officer for Sanford Health and Gottumukkala’s supervisor.

He said Sanford Health’s system has the potential to be commercialized for use by other systems.

“It’s going to be a lot of those types of really big thinking challenges that some people are trying to tackle in health care,” Robinson said. “Many people recognize that they’re even too big, and they don’t want to tackle them. That’s what we’ve charged Madhu with. What are we not thinking about that’s too big, that other people just don’t want to tackle, that we should be doing?”

Gottumukkala, a continuous learner who’s also pursuing a Ph.D. in information systems, is up for the task.

“We are making transformational strides that will create a sound framework for Sanford for years to come,” he said.

Robinson considers Gottumukkala not just a valuable asset with unlimited potential for elevating Sanford Health’s technological developments. He’s also a great friend to Robinson and his family. Gottumukkala even brings Robinson’s children — who are infatuated with his accent — birthday presents.

“I don’t think that’s unique just to me. … I see him making those really personal connections with a lot of people on the team, which is really special,” Robinson said. “Both in and outside of the office, he’s just a fantastic person.”

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Posted In Health Care Heroes, Innovations

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