INTERVIEW SERIES: Ellen Wuennenberg | Prominence
INTERVIEW SERIES: Ellen Wuennenberg08/31/2016
AnalyticsCultureData GovernanceDeploymentEpic ServicesEventsRevenue Cycle All posts

We’re sitting down with Ellen today, as we continue our interview series. Ellen is just transitioning projects after working with Johns Hopkins for several years, so we found a little time to conduct our interview.

Ellen, let’s start with some of your background. Who are you, and what brought you to Prominence?
Who am I? That’s a loaded question! I am a driven, positive, hard-working, athletic, energetic daughter, sister, aunt, fiancée…
I came to Prominence looking for a place to use my talents and desire to make a difference in the healthcare industry in an effective way.  After a long courting period, I realized I had an opportunity to work with a bunch of people who had the same drive and same goals and came on board.


Tell us more about your passion for working in healthcare. What interests you about working in this sector?

Before working at Epic and, subsequently, Prominence, I was working as a Market Research Consultant. I was putting in a lot of long hours, but I wasn’t passionate about the end product. If I was going to be spending that kind of time and energy, I wanted to do something I found more meaningful.  I love working in healthcare IT because at the end of the day what we do has an impact on the amazing people who provide care to really sick people every day, and, ultimately, have the ability to impact patient experience and quality of care.

That said, I also see where there is room to improve. I remember being appalled by the lack of data that was available in Healthcare IT, as compared to the FMCG (fast-moving consumer good) market I came from.  We know more about consumer buying habits of pencils than we do about how the care we receive impacts our health outcomes.  With the expansion of IT in healthcare we have a responsibility to better utilize the data at our fingertips.  One of the amazing things about Prominence is we are actually helping change the way organizations leverage health data through our analytics branch of the business.  It’s incredible to be a part of that movement!


You bring a lot of passion and a broad background to your work at Prominence. How have your previous experiences best prepared you for the work you do today?

Well, from age 5 until 18 I was a gymnast.  I believe that experience made me disciplined, hard-working and fearless!

During college I worked in catering/event management and as a Production Assistant.  These experiences taught me to be calm and positive, even in the face of chaos. They also helped me realize how critical multi-tasking and being organized can be to the success of an event, and how critical teamwork is when you are working to achieve a common goal.

My first few jobs after I finished my master’s degree taught me humility and patience to balance out my ambition, and they reinforced the rewards of hard work and creative problem solving. I learned how to present research, data and recommendations to C-level clients as well as how to pull together a team that is separated by culture differences, language barriers, and miles to pull that data together. The lightbulb went on when I moved into the healthcare sector, bringing all these skills together. I love knowing that when I am working with my team and with my operational stakeholders, they feel supported and able to complete their work and get more done.

Tell us about how you make your day effective. What’s one non-technical skill has made you more productive?

Ha, I believe most of my skills are ‘non-technical’. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned throughout my career is to trust my gut. If my gut is telling me something, don’t ignore it, explore it. I also make sure that I wrap some boundaries around my emotional investment in my work. At the end of the day, while my emotional engagement is a foundational part of the passion I bring to my work, decisions need to be made with facts, not emotion, in order to be most impactful and effective.

It sounds like you face varied challenges every day. What was a recent challenge you solved as part of your job?
How do I pick?! Solving challenges is my job! A big challenge we encountered a few weeks ago was the realization that we needed to upgrade a downstream system to support a chemotherapy workflow, and, as a result, we had to re-run all the interface testing we’d completed a year ago.  This required me to pull together operational leadership and SMEs, multiple teams on the Epic/Interface team, and people from the downstream system. I also had to convince project leadership that we must do this for go-live, even at the late date the upgrade was announced.

Ok, switching it up a bit. You travel weekly, so tell us what you usually eat for breakfast.
If I’m onsite, I have a salad of veggies and beans from the nearby Whole Foods and black tea. If I’m at home, I have a veggie frittata and a latte. If I’m really running late, I have a protein bar.

Our last question – If you could tell your 14-year-old self something, what would it be?
Oh, so many things! The main thing is to not worry and doubt myself so much. Trusting myself is always a good decision. That, and enjoy eating as much pizza, pasta and dessert as I can before my metabolism slows down.

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